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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.

Vincenz Raimund Grüner 1809

Transformation cards designed and engraved by Vincenz Raimund Grüner, Vienna, 1809

Vienna, 1809, artist-illustrator Vincenz Raimund Grüner (1771–1832) published Kartenalmanach auf Jahr 1810 containing 52 drawings fashioned into a pack of playing cards. The court cards are highly skilled miniature paintings and the hand-colouring exceptionally well done. The transformation of the pip cards is elegant and sensitive. The artist’s monogram, “V.G.R.” appears on the 7 of Spades with the notice “inv.et fecit” showing that he both designed the cards and executed the etchings.

detail from Transformation cards designed and etched by Vincenz Raimund Grüner, Vienna, 1809
Transformation cards designed and etched by Vincenz Raimund Grüner, Vienna, 1809

Above: Transformation cards designed and etched by Vincenz Raimund Grüner, Vienna, 1809. Images courtesy Barney Townshend.

Book illustration by Vincenz Raimund Grüner (1771–1832)
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By Barney Townshend

Member since October 06, 2015

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Retired Airline Pilot, interested in: Transformation Playing Cards, Karl Gerich and Elaine Lewis. Secretary of the EPCS. Treasurer of the IPCS.

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