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Playing cards have been with us since the 14th century, when they first entered popular culture. Over the centuries packs of cards, in all shapes and sizes, have been used for games, gambling, education, conjuring, advertising, fortune telling, political messages or the portrayal of national or ethnic identity. All over the world, whatever language is spoken, their significance is universal. Their popularity is also due to the imaginative artwork and graphic design which is sometimes overlooked, and the “then & now” of how things have changed.

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transformation

51 Articles

Hand-drawing ‘Transformation’ playing cards was a popular pastime 200 years ago

Transformation Cards for Christmas

Hand-drawn Transformation cards, c.1870.

Transformation Cards for Christmas

Bosch Puzzle Playing Cards

Bosch Puzzle Playing Cards by Sunish Chabba, 2020.

Bosch Puzzle Playing Cards

Eroticartes

Eroticartes with drawings by Pino Zac, 1983.

Eroticartes

Curator

The Curator Deck with designs by Emmanuel José with suit symbols cleverly transformed into artistic designs.

Curator

Vanity Fair

Vanity Fair No.41 Playing Cards by the United States Playing Card Co, 1895. All the number cards have been imaginatively transformed.

Vanity Fair

On The Cards

A Motley Pack - transformation playing cards & ‘On The Cards’ book facsimile published by Sunish Chabba, 2019.

On The Cards

Palladin

Palladin Parlour & Playing Cards by Laura Sutherland, published by Palladin Paperworks, Santa Cruz CA., 1983.

Palladin

John Nixon Scrapbook, 1803

Transformation proofs from the John Nixon Scrapbook.

John Nixon Scrapbook, 1803

Thackeray Transformation Cards, 1876

Transformation playing cards by William Makepeace Thackeray, 1876.

Thackeray Transformation Cards, 1876

Cartes à Rire

Transformed playing cards featuring satirical caricatures of political figures then in the ascendant, Paris, c.1819.

Cartes à Rire

Teddy Bear Pack

The Teddy Bear pack of playing cards created by Peter Wood, 1994

Teddy Bear Pack

Cartes Comiques du Colonel Atthalin

“Jeu de cartes comiques” transformation cards designed by Louis Atthalin (1784-1856) and published in 1817.

Cartes Comiques du Colonel Atthalin

Cartes Recréatives

Cartes Recréatives is a set of Transformed playing cards designed by Armand-Gustave Houbigant (1790-1863) and first published by Terquem et May, Metz, in 1819.

Cartes Recréatives

Thomas Walters Transformation

Hand-drawn transformation pack dated 1874 with the name Thomas Walters on the ace of spades.

Thomas Walters Transformation

A Motley Pack

A book titled “On The Cards” or “A Motley Pack” by Garnet Walch (1843-1913) was published in Melbourne (Australia) and illustrated by George Gordon McCrae in 1875.

A Motley Pack

A Pair of Transformation Packs

Two similar but fascinatingly different hand-drawn transformation decks by the same artist, c.1875

A Pair of Transformation Packs

Teddy Bear

Teddy Bear playing cards designed by Peter Wood for Lyons Quickbrew Tea.

Teddy Bear

Transformation c.1880

Transformation playing cards hand-drawn on a pack manufactured by Hunt’s Playing Card Manufacturing Co Ltd c.1880

Transformation c.1880

Carl Arnold Transformation

Transformation playing cards designed by Carl Johann Arnold (1829-1916), the court artist for King Friedrich Wilhem IV of Prussia

Carl Arnold Transformation

Bartlett Ackermann Transformation

Pictorial playing cards published by C. Bartlett, New York, 1833.

Bartlett Ackermann Transformation

Cotta Transformation playing cards

In 1804, J.C. Cotta, a publisher and bookseller in Tübingen, Germany, produced the first set of transformation cards that was published as an actual deck of playing cards.

Cotta Transformation playing cards

Charles Hodges

Charles Hodges produced engraved geographical and astronomical decks, London, c.1827-30.

Charles Hodges

Crowquill Transformation

Transformation playing cards designed by the illustrator, comic artist and stage designer ‘Alfred Crowquill’ (Alfred Henry Forrester, 1804-72), printed by Reynolds & Sons, c.1850.

Crowquill Transformation

Ye Witches

Ye Witches Fortune Telling Cards published by the United States Playing Card Co., 1896. 52 cards + Joker + extra card in box.

Ye Witches

Hustling Joe

Hustling Joe himself appears on the Ace of Spaces dressed in red.

Hustling Joe

Inky-Dinky Playing Cards

A series of four decks designed by John Littleboy.

Inky-Dinky Playing Cards

Kitten Club

From Empresses to King Cats and One-Eyed Jacks, every game is a pageant of unforgettable cats, each with a story to tell...

Kitten Club

Pack of Dogs

Pack of Dogs. Every card tells a story...

Pack of Dogs

Mermaid Queen

Mermaid Queen playing cards, from a series of four decks designed by John Littleboy, 2008

Mermaid Queen

Metastasis Transformation Playing Cards, 1811

First published by S & J Fuller, Rathbone Place, London, September 1st 1811. This Nixon-Fuller deck was the first English deck now commonly known as transformation playing cards - the first use of the term "transformation".

Metastasis Transformation Playing Cards, 1811

Zoo Comics

ZOO COMICS animated playing cards made by Litografía Ferri, Valencia (Spain), first published in 1968.

Zoo Comics

El Barco

El Barco playing cards designed by E. Pastor, Valencia, Spain, c.1895

El Barco

Hidden Mickeys

“HiddenMickeys” by Peter Wood

Hidden Mickeys

Renaissance Playing Cards

Renaissance Playing Cards by Maxim Hurwicz, showing 54 different drawings spanning the years 1066 to 1400.

Renaissance Playing Cards

Wild! by Peter Wood

Wild! by Peter Wood.

Wild! by Peter Wood

Transformation Playing Cards, 1811

Transformation playing cards, first published in 1811, in which each card bears a picture in which the suit marks are concealed within the design. This artistic exercise began as an 18th century parlour game and pastime.

Transformation Playing Cards, 1811

South German Engraver

Conforming to an archaic format of 52 cards with banner 10s, female 'Sotas', horsemen and kings, the pack is of interest on account of a number of other packs with similar characteristics surviving elsewhere, suggesting an archaic variant of the Spanish-suited pack.

South German Engraver