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Transformation Playing Cards

Transformation of Playing Cards

The best-known fantasies with playing cards are the ‘Transformation’ cards. Hand-drawing ‘transformations’ onto a pack of ordinary playing cards, with the suit symbols forming part of the overall composition, became a popular pastime 200 years ago and a test of skill in drawing. A great deal of ingenuity is required in their design. The earliest printed sets were published at the start of the 19th century, often published in the form of an almanac or sometimes known as ‘metastasis’, and these became a fashionable and entertaining novelty.

In the strict sense of the word ‘Transformation’ the pips should be in their standard positions and form part of, or fit into, the overll image portrayed on the card.

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Litografías Industrias Madriguera 1896

Litografías Industrias Madriguera

Pictorial trade cards were becoming popular throughout Europe so that tea, tobacco, chocolate or even beef extract were the commodities most associated with beautifully lithographed insert cards.

Marlow playing cards 2023

Marlow playing cards

Visitor attractions and businesses to be found in Marlow, Buckinghamshire.

Master of the Banderoles 1470

Master of the Banderoles

Playing Cards by the Master of the Banderoles, one of the earliest professional printmakers, c.1470.

Mermaid Queen 2008

Mermaid Queen

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

Metastasis Transformation Playing Cards, 1811

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".

Murphy Varnish pack 2019

Murphy Varnish pack

Reproduction of the 1883 Murphy Varnish transformation pack, USA, 2019

Nine art-nouveau transformation playing cards 1900
On The Cards 2019

On The Cards

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

Pack of Dogs 2006

Pack of Dogs

Pack of Dogs playing cards designed by John Littleboy. Every card tells a story...

Palladin 1983


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

Pips in Pictures 2001

Pips in Pictures

‘Pips in Pictures’ imaginatively transformed playing cards by Jennifer Gaudion, 2001.

Pips in Proverbs 2009

Pips in Proverbs

Wonderful ‘Pips in Proverbs’ playing cards created by Jennifer Gaudion, United Kingdom, 2009.

Renaissance Playing Cards

Renaissance Playing Cards

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

Schwarze Katze (or Gioco del Gatto Nero) 1984

Schwarze Katze (or Gioco del Gatto Nero)

Reproduction of a 40-card transformation pack with designs by “WS”, adapted for the game of Black Cat.

South German Engraver 1496

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.

Teddy Bear

Teddy Bear

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

Teddy Bear Pack 1994

Teddy Bear Pack

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

Thackeray Transformation Cards 1876

Thackeray Transformation Cards

Transformation playing cards by William Makepeace Thackeray, 1876.

The Cartoonists' Pack 1980

The Cartoonists' Pack

Semi-transformation pack created by four famous British cartoonists.

The Deck 1983

The Deck

The Deck semi-transformation playing cards, USA, 1983.