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Published January 14, 2016 Updated May 04, 2023

The Key to the Kingdom

“The Key to the Kingdom”, an enchanted deck of illuminated playing cards designed by Tony Meeuwissen based around traditional rhymes and verses.

1992 United Kingdom Pavilion Books Ltd Tony Meeuwissen Illuminated Transformation Add to Collection

Tony Meeuwissen’s “The Key to the Kingdom” - an enchanted deck - is a magnificent set of illuminated and transformed playing cards published by Pavilion Books Ltd in 1992. Demonstrating an extraordinary level of craftsmanship, without the aid of digital technology, the illustrations are inspired by traditional rhymes or verses and can be used for a guessing game to correctly identify each verse from the cards. It is not strictly a true transformation deck because the pips are not in their conventional positions, nevertheless we can marvel at the beauty and ingenuity of the artist’s creativity, incorporating the playing card pips into the images. Tony Meeuwissen’s award winning artwork has also appeared on postage stamps, book and record covers and in leading magazines   see more

The 12 Court Cards

“The Key to the Kingdom” - an enchanted deck -  illuminated playing cards designed by Tony Meeuwissen, 1992. © Pavilion Books Company Limited

Above: cards from “The Key to the Kingdom” illuminated playing cards designed by Tony Meeuwissen, © Pavilion Books Ltd  Images courtesy Rex Pitts.

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By Rex Pitts (1940-2021)

Member since January 30, 2009

Rex's main interest was in card games, because, he said, they were cheap and easy to get hold of in his early days of collecting. He is well known for his extensive knowledge of Pepys games and his book is on the bookshelves of many.

His other interest was non-standard playing cards. He also had collections of sheet music, music CDs, models of London buses, London Transport timetables and maps and other objects that intrigued him.

Rex had a chequered career at school. He was expelled twice, on one occasion for smoking! Despite this he trained as a radio engineer and worked for the BBC in the World Service.

Later he moved into sales and worked for a firm that made all kinds of packaging, a job he enjoyed until his retirement. He became an expert on boxes and would always investigate those that held his cards. He could always recognize a box made for Pepys, which were the same as those of Alf Cooke’s Universal Playing Card Company, who printed the card games. This interest changed into an ability to make and mend boxes, which he did with great dexterity. He loved this kind of handicraft work.

His dexterity of hand and eye soon led to his making card games of his own design. He spent hours and hours carefully cutting them out and colouring them by hand.


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