The World of Playing Cards Logo
Published October 07, 2015 Updated April 05, 2019

Hand-Painted Transformation, c.1800-20

An early 19th century set of hand-painted transformation playing cards depicting contemporary scenes from Georgian society

United Kingdom Antique transformation

The cards are hand-painted and coloured, some on standard printed cards, artfully incorporating the suit symbols into the images depicting contemporary scenes in late Georgian society. We see folks snoozing by the fireside, smoking pipes, enjoying a musical ensemble, playing card games and a variety of other everyday scenes. In short, a candid documentary glimpse of bourgeois domestic life and manners without pomposity. There is a fascinating range of facial expressions and other details to be enjoyed in these very early cards.

Some of the drawings are executed in landscape format (above) and the rest are portrait (below). Only numeral cards are present and one of them (four of hearts) has the inscription “MES 1819”. The ace of diamonds is from the same artist.

An early 19th century set of hand-painted transformation playing cards

Some of the images are copied from English printed packs but most are original, which supports the theory that drawing transformations on playing cards was originally a Georgian parlour game. Several images also appear to have inspired later transformation packs.

An early 19th century set of hand-painted transformation playing cards An early 19th century set of hand-painted transformation playing cards

Above: 34 assorted early 19th century hand-painted transformation playing cards, formerly in the Sylvia Mann collection. The cards come from more than one pack and are amongst the earliest hand-painted transformation cards known. The backs are all plain; various measurements. Images courtesy Barney Townshend.

REFERENCES

Mann, Sylvia: All Cards on the Table, Jonas Verlag/Deutsches Spielkarten-Museum, Leinfelden-Echterdingen, 1990

avatar

By Barney Townshend

Member since October 06, 2015

View Articles

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


Leave a Reply

Recommended

1970 Grand Slam

Grand Slam

Limited edition gift set issued to mark the American Bicentennial, 1776-1976, produced by John Waddington Ltd and the Bristol Pottery for the British American Bicentenary Group, 1970.

1975 Waddingtons Nursery Rhymes

Waddingtons Nursery Rhymes

Nursery rhyme playing cards by Waddingtons, Leeds, UK, 1975.

2001 South Park Playing Cards

South Park Playing Cards

South Park characters and famous one-liners, by Carta Mundi for Hasbro Int. Inc., 2001.

1980 Pentacards

Pentacards

A five-suited set of playing cards published by Fleet and Case Games Ltd., Rainham, Kent, UK, c.1980.

1960 Souvenir Views of Scotland Playing Cards

Souvenir Views of Scotland Playing Cards

52 selected views of Scotland by De La Rue (Waddingtons) for GlenAlan Ltd, Glasgow, Scotland, c.1960s.

1911 The Jovial Cards

The Jovial Cards

Publicity items for a group of entertainers, Southend-on-Sea, Essex, UK, 1911.

1930 Waddington’s “Silkette” Playing Cards

Waddington’s “Silkette” Playing Cards

Cards made by John Waddington Ltd. for the Madras Club, Chennai (formerly Madras), India, c.1930.

2002 Highland Hospice

Highland Hospice

54 different personalities from the city of Inverness published by the Highland Hospice.

2017 Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Edinburgh Festival Fringe programme covers from 1956 to 2016 published by Winning Moves UK Ltd.

2010 Cape Wrath

Cape Wrath

Images from the Ministry of Defence Cape Wrath Training Centre, Sutherland, Scotland. Published 2010.

2014 Vesalius Anatomy Card Game

Vesalius Anatomy Card Game

Celebrating the work of Andreas Vesalius in the quincentenary year of his birth.

2005 Team GB

Team GB

Great Britains’s Olympic gold medallists from 1964 to 2004 published by the British Olympic Association.

2015 David Kindersley Centenary

David Kindersley Centenary

Celebration of the work of David Kindersley, stone letter-carver and typeface designer. Published by the Cardozo Kindersley Workshop, Cambridge, UK, 2015.

2003 Official England Rugby Playing Cards

Official England Rugby Playing Cards

Pack celebrating the rugby world champions of 2003. Produced by MMcardz.

1808 The Kiss, 1808

The Kiss, 1808

‘Aphorisms on the Kiss’ published by C. A. Solbrig, Leipzig, 1808.

1705 Royal Cards Reign of Queen Anne

Royal Cards Reign of Queen Anne

“Royal Cards Reign of Queen Anne” cover historical events, both honourable and treacherous, during the period 1702 to 1704.

Hall & Son

Hall & Son

Hall & Son

1850 Fortune-Telling Cards

Fortune-Telling Cards

Comic Fortune-Telling Cards published by Reynolds & Sons, c.1850.

1850 Comic Question & Answer cards

Comic Question & Answer cards

Comic Question & Answer cards by Josh. Reynolds & Sons, circa 1850.

1824 Myriorama

Myriorama

Myriorama of Italian scenery, 1824.

1870 Transformation Cards for Christmas

Transformation Cards for Christmas

Hand-drawn Transformation cards, c.1870.

Playing Cards: A Secret History

Playing Cards: A Secret History

Playing Cards: A Secret History

2020 Bosch Puzzle Playing Cards

Bosch Puzzle Playing Cards

Bosch Puzzle Playing Cards by Sunish Chabba, 2020.

Sergeant-Major

Sergeant-Major

Sergeant-Major card game devised by W.G.Smith

Rex Pitts (1940-2021)

Rex Pitts (1940-2021)

We are deeply saddened by news of the passing of Anthony Rex Pitts (1940-2021).

Pepys Games

Pepys Games

The Story of Pepys Games by Rex Pitts

J. W. Spear and Sons

J. W. Spear and Sons

Jacob Wolfe Spear founded his company manufacturing fancy goods in 1879 near Nuremberg in Bavaria, Germany

Chad Valley Co. Ltd

Chad Valley Co. Ltd

Chad Valley Co. Ltd (incorporating Johnson Brothers (Harborne) Ltd, the long-established UK brand bought by Woolworths in 1988 and now sold at Argos.

Multum in Parvo Co., Ltd

Multum in Parvo Co., Ltd

Multum in Parvo published a range of indoor games during the period from 1884-1927.

1954 Ariel Productions Ltd

Ariel Productions Ltd

The founder of Ariel Productions, Philip Marx, was a prolific publisher of children’s books and comics towards the end of and just after the Second World War.

Kum-Bak Sports, Toys & Games

Kum-Bak Sports, Toys & Games

Kum-Bak Sports, Toys & Games MFG Co., Ltd, London S.E.11

1950 Crazy People

Crazy People

Crazy People children’s card game illustrated by caricaturist and graphic artist Walter Trier, c.1950.

1912 Panko

Panko

Panko (Votes for Women) suffragette card game published by Peter Gurney Ltd, c.1912.

Snap

Snap

Anonymous Snap game, 1930s.

Panto People

Panto People

Panto People published by E. S. & A. Robinson, c.1930s.

Hats-Off!

Hats-Off!

Hats-Off! miniature card game published by E. S. & A. Robinson, c.1930s.

1930 Zoo-Boots

Zoo-Boots

Zoo-Boots published by E. S. & A. Robinson, c.1930s.

1875 XIXth Century

XIXth Century

The XIXth Century published by John Jaques & Son, c.1875.