The World of Playing Cards Logo
Published November 21, 2019 Updated June 06, 2022

Vanity Fair

Vanity Fair No.41 Playing Cards by the United States Playing Card Co, 1895. All the number cards have been imaginatively transformed.

1895 USA Heraclio Fournier PlayingCardDecks.com United States Playing Card Co. Azured Ox Transformation Add to Collection
U.S. Playing  Card Company letterhead, image courtesy Dean Canter

“Vanity Fair” Transformation Playing Cards published by the United States Playing Card Company, 1895, 53 cards in box. All the number cards have been imaginatively transformed and the double-ended court cards have been modified into comical images. The king of spades smokes a pipe, the queen holds a spoon, and the jack holds a shovel. The ace of spades depicts Uncle Sam and Miss Liberty in full colour and reads "Vanity Fair No. 41, copyrighted 1895 by The United States Playing Card Company, Cincinnati, U.S.A." The Joker is a winged devil with a pitchfork. The back design is a centre medallion with four Asian faces wearing caps, all within a snowflake pattern, and comical faces appear in the four corners, printed in green.

Vanity Fair Transformation Playing Cards, 1890

Above: “Vanity Fair” Transformation Playing Cards published by the United States Playing Card Company, 1895. Several different backs and box designs are known - click image to see more.

Reproduction by Fournier in 1998

The Vanity Fair deck was reproduced by Fournier in 1998. It is exactly the same as the original except that it is bridge size. The original deck is poker size. At the time, USPC owned a controlling interest in Fournier.

Reproduction Vanity Fair Transformation Playing Cards Reproduction Vanity Fair Transformation Playing Cards

Above: front and back of double boxed set of reproduction Vanity Fair Transformation cards published by Naipes Fourner, 1998. Even though the cards are bridge size, the pictures are still the same size as the originals. I would think that the original plates were used to produce this repro. Image courtesy Rod Starling.

Reproduction by Playingcarddecks.com, 2019

Reviewed by Matt Probert.

Vanity No 41 Playing Cards (reproduction based on the "Vanity Fair No 41" transformation deck by US Playing Card Co., 1895), produced by Will Roya, illustrated by Azured Ox, printed by USPCC in two colours: red and green, limited edition of 2000 packs each colour.

Like the 19th century originals, the reproduction pack is cut to poker width. In addition, the reproduction packs includes an additional joker where the devil is wearing green, but otherwise identical to the other joker; a double-back card and an alternative nine-of-diamonds to further expand the scope for use by card magicians.

Vanity No 41 Transformation Playing Cards manufactured by USPCC, 2019 Vanity No 41 Transformation Playing Cards manufactured by USPCC, 2019

Above: Vanity No 41 Transformation Playing Cards produced by card magician Will Roya, illustrated by Azured Ox, manufactured by USPCC, 2019 in two colours: red and green (each with a different back design copied from originals) in a limited edition of 2000 packs of each colour. The red pack has the hobgoblin design as used in the 1998 reproduction pack published by Fournier, only printed in brown; while the green pack is printed with the "clown" back.

The designs themselves have been reproduced from originals, though some minor differences occur. Most obviously in the nine-of-clubs where the original card design has the legs trimmed off the boy in the top left corner of the card, the reproduction pack depicts the whole boy. To my mind a better image than the original pack. Less obviously, the spacing in the top left corner of the six-of-hearts between the index and the toad is clearer in the reproduction pack. The original is rather cramped, with the heart suit indicator almost touching the toad’s arm. The reproduction pack has the main image better located within a more centralised position. Other cards show slight variations to the original images, but in no way detract from the comic nature or general essence of the originals.

Vanity No 41 Transformation Playing Cards manufactured by USPCC, 2019

Each pack is supplied in a colour coordinated box - either red or green, corresponding to the colour of the backs of the cards inside, and printed with gold ink and sealed with an imitation tax stamp (of a design used between 1894 and 1896) and wrapped in cellophane.

The cards are produced on Bicycle playing card board, in poker width, with the same embossing and finish to provide the finish that is preferred by card magicians, one of the key target audiences for this pack. As a magic theatre prop these cards excel. For collectors the pack offers an opportunity to own the art work of the popular USPCC Vanity Fair pack without having to pay the earth trying to source a rare original. Packs are sold either as a pair comprising one pack of each colour; individually or as an uncut sheet. To prevent the cards being passed off as originals the ace of spades in the reproduction pack has different wording to the original. The title has been reduced to “Vanity”, the word “Fair” having been dropped, and the copyright information at the base of the card has replaced “Cincinnati, USA” with a reproduction notice thus: “2019 REPRODUCTION BY PLAYINGCARDDECKS.COM & AZURED OX”.

Vanity No 41 Transformation Playing Cards manufactured by USPCC, 2019
avatar
1439 Articles

By Simon Wintle

Member since February 01, 1996

Founder and editor of the World of Playing Cards since 1996. He is a former committee member of the IPCS and was graphics editor of The Playing-Card journal for many years. He has lived at various times in Chile, England and Wales and is currently living in Extremadura, Spain. Simon's first limited edition pack of playing cards was a replica of a seventeenth century traditional English pack, which he produced from woodblocks and stencils.


Related Articles

Woodblock and Stencil Jack of Clubs

Woodblock and Stencil Jack of Clubs

A limited edition art print of the Jack of Clubs 1984 woodblock joker.

Woodblock and Stencil Joker

Woodblock and Stencil Joker

A limited edition art print of the 1984 woodblock joker.

Woodblock and Stencil Queen of Clubs

Woodblock and Stencil Queen of Clubs

A limited edition art print of the Queen of Clubs 1984 woodblock joker.

Woodblock and Stencil Jack of Hearts

Woodblock and Stencil Jack of Hearts

A limited edition art print of the Jack of Hearts 1984 woodblock joker.

2023 Warner Bros 100<sup>th</sup> Anniversary

Warner Bros 100th Anniversary

An array of famous characters from Warner Bros films in celebration of the company’s centenary.

2016 Líneas rojas 2016

Líneas rojas 2016

Semicaricatural images of Spanish politicians by Jordi Minguell, combined with non-standard suits. ...

2022 Jeu des 7 familles basques

Jeu des 7 familles basques

A Happy Families-type game from the Basque country, with designs by Soledad Bravi and Agathe de Las...

2010 Go Green playing cards

Go Green playing cards

Suggestions how to “go green” and help combat the impact of climate change.

North American wildlife playing cards

North American wildlife playing cards

From humid wetlands to frozen tundra, the wildlife in North America is extremely diverse.

Hummingbirds of the Americas

Hummingbirds of the Americas

Colour photographs of hummingbirds with data about each species to aid recognition.

Seashells playing cards

Seashells playing cards

Each card shows colour photo of a different seashell for easy identification.

Discover trains of North America

Discover trains of North America

55 different Illustrations of railways and locomotives from the United States.

Introduction to Collecting Themes

Introduction to Collecting Themes

Playing cards can be broadly categorised into standard and non-standard designs, with collectors app...

2022 Tarot for Baby

Tarot for Baby

This board book simplifies tarot archetypes into accessible affirmations for young children.

1994 Music playing cards

Music playing cards

Portraits of 13 classical music composers.

2010 Manara: baraja de poker

Manara: baraja de poker

Exotic illustrations by Italian comic book artist and writer Milo Manara.

2010 Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland collector’s edition with illustrations of characters from the film, published by...

2001 Women by Royo

Women by Royo

‘Women by Royo’ erotic playing cards published by Heraclio Fournier, Spain, 2001.

1964 Monuments de Paris

Monuments de Paris

‘Monuments de Paris’ souvenir playing cards produced by Heraclio Fournier, c.1964.

1977 Bibaraja

Bibaraja

Amusing designs of boys as circus performers by Alberto Muñiz Sánchez.

1982 Star Trek II • The Wrath of Khan

Star Trek II • The Wrath of Khan

This deck is a vibrant photographic tribute to "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan," one of the most be...

1985 Paco Lobo

Paco Lobo

Highly original and striking designs by Paco Lobo for the fashion house of the same name.

1970 Loewe: Moda Europea Siglo XVII

Loewe: Moda Europea Siglo XVII

Luxury pack for the Spanish fashion house Loewe, with 17th century costume designs by Margot Hamilto...

1988 Toros: De El Cordobés a Espartaco

Toros: De El Cordobés a Espartaco

Publicity pack for the Spanish newspaper Ya with caricatures of famous bullfighters by Fernan...

1994 Baraja de Alava

Baraja de Alava

55 different paintings by Emilio Lope depicting the history and culture of Vitoria and the province ...

1992 Norfin® Trolls

Norfin® Trolls

Troll dolls with gaudy hairstyles in a multitude of different costumes.

2002 Impressionist Art Cards

Impressionist Art Cards

Details of 13 paintings by 8 different Impressionist artists on elongated cards.

1996 Postak – Las Postas

Postak – Las Postas

‘Postak - Las Postas’ playing cards commemorating the history of the Basque postal service, Spain, 1...

2011 Colour doodle deck

Colour doodle deck

“1952-2002 commemorative deck” customised with doodles by an uncredited artist, UK, 2011.

2003 Safety playing cards

Safety playing cards

Safety playing cards designed to reinforce the “Think and Be Safe” concept.

2016 Politicards 2016 & Politikids 2016

Politicards 2016 & Politikids 2016

Politicards™ 2016 & Politikids 2016: twin decks of satirical playing cards produced by Peter Green f...

2004 K Deck

K Deck

“K Deck” political playing cards, USA, c. 2004.

2016 Tuxedo playing cards

Tuxedo playing cards

Stylish ‘Tuxedo’ playing cards with animal faces created by Natalia Silva, USA, 2016.

2003 The Deck of Hillary

The Deck of Hillary

‘The Deck of Hillary’ with quotes and photographs of Hillary Clinton, USA, 2003.

2005 Shakespeare playing cards: Insults

Shakespeare playing cards: Insults

Shakespeare Insults playing cards with portraits by Jan Padover, USA, 2005.

2004 Shakespeare playing cards: Quotes

Shakespeare playing cards: Quotes

Shakespeare playing cards: Quotes, the first volume of a double set published by Prospero Art of San...

2012 Old Testament playing cards

Old Testament playing cards

Old Testament playing cards with illustrations by Jan Padover, USA, 2012.

2008 Politicards 2008

Politicards 2008

Politicards ’08 with caricatures cast as characters from classic movies, USA.

2003 Starz behind bars

Starz behind bars

Starz behind bars playing cards with mug shots of the rich and famous under arrest, USA, 2003.

2003 House of Cards: Deck of Bush

House of Cards: Deck of Bush

House of Cards: Deck of Bush playing cards presenting reasons not to re-elect President Bush for a s...

Southern Comfort

Southern Comfort

Southern Comfort whiskey playing cards, USA.

2011 Holy Trinity Church playing cards

Holy Trinity Church playing cards

Holy Trinity Church commemoration playing cards, USA, 2011.

1992 Batman® playing cards

Batman® playing cards

Characters from Batman: The Animated Series on a pack issued in 1992.

2010 FDR New Deal Deck

FDR New Deal Deck

Facsimile of ‘FDR New Deal Deck’ of 1934 re-published by Bill Schroeder, USA, 2010.