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Published October 19, 2015 Updated June 04, 2022

A Motley Pack

A book titled “On The Cards” or “A Motley Pack” by Garnet Walch (1843-1913) was published in Melbourne (Australia) and illustrated by George Gordon McCrae in 1875.

1875 Australia George Gordon McCrae Transformation Add to Collection

A Christmas Annual titled “On The Cards” or “A Motley Pack” by the Australian writer, dramatist and publisher Garnet Walch (1843-1913, see biography) was published in Melbourne in 1875. The book contains 71 pages with 40 transformed playing cards illustrated by the Scottish born poet and man of letters George Gordon McCrae (1833-1927, see biography) which are relevant to the story in the book. McCrae’s drawing style could be described as “lively and competent sketches in pen and ink which aptly illustrate the scenes being described.” George McCrae also wrote novels, stories, poetry, travel sketches and illustrated books. Some of his sketches may have been inspired by his travels to Mauritius and the Seychelles, as well as by Aboriginal people.

Above: Unfortunately the ink of the pips has on some pages ‘bled’ through the paper, which can be seen in several images. There are actually no cards, just illustrations in the book. The designs were never made into a separate pack of cards. Images courtesy Barney Townshend.

Title page from book.

Title page from book

Above: the order of the cards and suits in the book is totally random, following no specific order, just appearing as needed by the text. There are no court cards. There are a fair number of poems that mention the card on the same page, that are also part of the general story being told. There is never more than one card per page.

See also: Biography of Garnet Walch

George Gordon McCrae b. 29 May 1833

Facsimile edition of book and cards available from Guru Playing Card Company

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131 Articles

By Barney Townshend

Member since October 06, 2015

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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