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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.

On The Cards

A Motley Pack - transformation playing cards & ‘On The Cards’ book facsimile published by Sunish Chabba, 2019.

Sunish Chabba’s superb re-print of “On The Cards” or “A Motley Pack” by the Australian writer Garnet Walch (originally published in Melbourne in 1875) in the form of a Christmas Annual features 40 transformed playing cards illustrated by Australian poet George Gordon McCrae. This lavish production is a gem for any collector.

McCrae’s cards are now produced for the first time as a separate deck, whilst the accompanying book contains Garnet Walch’s original text with a coloured version of McCrae’s cards. The facsimile edition is produced with grateful thanks to the State Library Melbourne. The set comes in two versions, Royal Edition & Heritage Edition. Available here

Royal Edition

“A Motley Pack” Royal edition

Above: Royal Edition facsimile of transformed playing cards from “A Motley Pack” illustrated by George Gordon McCrae, published in full colour with corner indices by Sunish Chabba & Ishan Trivedi, 52 cards + 2 jokers + 2 extra cards in box, 2019. The cards are accompanied by a re-print of “On The Cards”, a book by the Australian writer Garnet Walch, originally published in Melbourne in 1875. The 40 cards are completely redrawn from the original book & we have taken liberty by adding the 14 cards which were missing in the book so as to make the complete deck of playing cards. Printed by United States Playing Card Company (USPCC). An augmented reality app is also available for both iOS & Android devices that works with book and the deck of cards.

Heritage Edition

“A Motley Pack” Heritage edition

Above: Heritage Edition facsimile of transformed playing cards from “A Motley Pack” illustrated by George Gordon McCrae, published by Sunish Chabba & Ishan Trivedi, 52 cards + 2 jokers + 2 extra cards with gilded edges in box, 2019. The Heritage gilded deck is hand-numbered on the tuckbox and printed by WJPC. The cards are accompanied by a re-print of “On The Cards”, a book by the Australian writer Garnet Walch, originally published in Melbourne in 1875.

The Book

Above: pages from the re-print of “On The Cards” or “A Motley Pack”, originally published in Melbourne in 1875, presented in colour by Sunish Chabba & Ishan Trivedi, Guru Playing Card Company, Australia, 2019. 160pp. The books are published in a numbered edition of 600 copies & the last pages contain the advertisements from the original book.

A summary of the book in pdf format is available for readers of WoPC here

re-print of “On The Cards” or “A Motley Pack” presented in colour by Guru Playing Card Company, Australia, 2019

FURTHER REFERENCES

Book and cards available from Guru Playing Card Company

More details on Kickstarter: A Motley Pack -Transformation Playing Cards & Book

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By Simon Wintle

Member since February 01, 1996

View Articles

Curator and editor of the World of Playing Cards since 1996.

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