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Published November 04, 2022 Updated November 04, 2022

Baron Louis Atthalin’s Transformation Playing Cards, 1817

Baron Louis Atthalin (1784-1856) designed these cards whilst on a sea crossing from Palermo to Marseilles in 1814.

1817 France Louis Athalin Fantasy Transformation Add to Collection

Above: The Jack of Clubs showing Atthalin designing the playing cards and his son examining the cards.

This is the first French Transformation Playing Cards – somewhat unique as it has contemporary manuscript annotations on the reverse to describe the scene depicted by each card.

It is recorded that Baron Atthalin (1784-1856) designed these cards whilst on a sea crossing from Palermo to Marseilles in 1814.

Above: The Jack of Clubs showing Atthalin designing the playing cards and his son examining the cards.

Above: Detail from the Jack of Clubs showing a self portrait of the artist Baron Louis Atthalin, the name 'Louis Atthalin' appears in the shield.

Elsewhere this pack is described as issued in 1815 and 1832 but the BNF records the correct date as 1817 – see here.

The cards have plain backs and court cards depict historical figures. The cards are finely etched “showing a high level of artistic ability… with considerable detail". [ Albert Field ] and when you examine the cards closely you have to agree with that comment.

The Jack of Clubs is really interesting as it is a self portrait with Atthalin designing playing cards and his son [?] examining the cards. The name 'Louis Atthalin' appears in the shield on the legendary knight – Lancelot.

I love some of the transformed images, many of which appear in much later editions of Transformed Playing Cards – the originality is to be admired.

I have detailed all 52 cards and the reverses with the French notations so that they can be viewed by all – they will remain on site whether they sell or not. All cards, front and reverse, are available to buy at Games Et Al.

For more information, also see Rex Pitt's review a reproduction of this pack

Complete deck of 1817 Baron Louis Atthalin’s Transformation playing cards
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By Ann and John Sings

Member since December 22, 2021

Articles and contributions by Ann & John Sings. Visit Games et al


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