Carl Arnold Transformation

Transformation playing cards designed by Carl Johann Arnold (1829-1916)

Albert Field in his book on transformation playing cards writes: “In 1856 Carl Arnold of Kassel, the court artist for Friedrich Wilhem IV, King of Prussia, was commissioned to create a pack for the Queen. However, she took offence at the 5 of Hearts, and withdrew her patronage. The scenes are rather dark but well drawn, and none of the three known copies have face cards. It seems likely that none were made. The Ace of Clubs in the Field collection version has ‘Carl Arnold inv & fec’ written at the top in pencil. The deck in the Nuremberg Museum does not, nor does the one in a private collection.”

Right: cards from the collection of Barney Townshend →

The Nuremberg museum version does however have a number of alternate cards, so it is probable that this version is a previously unknown fourth version. The cards are all hand drawn, with a hazy misty feel, and were never published. However a number of years later many of the designs were simplified and used in a deck marked “WS ’87” on the 8 of hearts, and “WS” on the 5 of hearts. This pack was in turn reprinted slightly smaller as a limited edition facsimile of 800 by Vito Arienti in 1983.

inscription on Ace of Hearts


Field, Albert: Transformation cards, Stamford CT (USA), 1987.

Last Updated April 05, 2019 at 04:25pm


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