The World of Playing Cards Logo

Vanity Fair

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

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

By Simon Wintle

Member since February 01, 1996

View Articles

Curator 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.


Leave a Reply

Recommended

1986 Helmsley Hotels

Helmsley Hotels

Publicity pack for the Harley and Helmsley Hotels, U.S.A., c.1986.

2014 Encarded First Edition by Paul Carpenter

Encarded First Edition by Paul Carpenter

The Encarded First Edition is a limited edition of 2,500 designed by Paul Carpenter and manufactured by the Expert Playing Card Company.

2005 Bush Cards – The Second Term

Bush Cards – The Second Term

Cards slanted to the right, issued to mark George W. Bush’s second term of office.

2019 National Playing Cards by Theory11

National Playing Cards by Theory11

Playing cards inspired by mysterious symbolism of secret societies as well as a tribute to the National Playing Card Co.

2012 Monarchs Playing Cards by Theory11

Monarchs Playing Cards by Theory11

Monarchs luxury playing cards by Theory11, featured in the film Now You See Me.

2015 Nomad Luxury Playing Cards

Nomad Luxury Playing Cards

Luxury playing cards produced by Theory11 in collaboration with The Nomad Hotel in New York City.

2003 Alcatraz: Rules and Regulations Playing Cards

Alcatraz: Rules and Regulations Playing Cards

Rules and regulations that guided prison life in America’s most notorious prison.

2021 Avengers Playing Cards by Theory11

Avengers Playing Cards by Theory11

Marvel’s Avengers: The Infinity Saga Premium Playing Cards produced by Theory11 and designed by Mattson Creative, 2021.

2014 A. Dougherty’s Triplicate Recreation

A. Dougherty’s Triplicate Recreation

A recreated of the original 1876, No. 18, Triplicate deck by A. Dougherty by Michael Scott in 2014.

2019 Triangle Playing Cards

Triangle Playing Cards

Triangle Playing Cards by Michael Scott.

1808 The Kiss, 1808

The Kiss, 1808

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

1970 Notched Construction Cards

Notched Construction Cards

Two Notched Construction Card Sets by Shackman & Co, N.Y. 1970s.

1870 Transformation Cards for Christmas

Transformation Cards for Christmas

Hand-drawn Transformation cards, c.1870.

IBM Linux One

IBM Linux One

IBM Linux One playing cards, c.2018.

2020 Bosch Puzzle Playing Cards

Bosch Puzzle Playing Cards

Bosch Puzzle Playing Cards by Sunish Chabba, 2020.

Spyscape

Spyscape

Spyscape espionage, surveillance and cryptography themed playing cards, 2018.

Lion Coffee

Lion Coffee

Lion Coffee Mother Goose card game, late 19th C.

1940 Fortune Telling

Fortune Telling

Fortune Telling cards by Whitman Publishing Co., 1940.

1953 Vargas Girls

Vargas Girls

‘Vargas Girls’ paintings by Alberto Vargas in a deck of cards published by Creative Playing Card Co Missouri.

1981 El Gato con Botas

El Gato con Botas

Puss in Boots card game manufactured by H. Fournier, 1981.

1942 Anma US Armed Forces

Anma US Armed Forces

Anma US Armed Forces, 1942.

1992 Quinto Centenario del Descubrimiento de América

Quinto Centenario del Descubrimiento de América

Fifth Centenary of the Discovery of America by Heraclio Fournier, 1992.

1984 Pato Donald

Pato Donald

Donald Duck card game © Walt Disney Productions, by Naipes Fournier, 1984.

1983 Eroticartes

Eroticartes

Eroticartes with drawings by Pino Zac, 1983.

2011 Curator

Curator

The Curator Deck with designs by Emmanuel José with suit symbols cleverly transformed into artistic designs.

1989 Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes deck with caricatures by Jeff Decker published by Gemaco Playing Card Co. 1989

1981 Caperucita Roja

Caperucita Roja

Caperucita Roja card game published by H. Fournier, 1981.

1981 Pulgarcito

Pulgarcito

Pulgarcito (Tom Thumb) card game published by H Fournier, 1981.

1983 Inspector Gadget

Inspector Gadget

The Adventures of Inspector Gadget quartet game published by Fournier in 1983.

1979 Familias de 7 Paises

Familias de 7 Paises

“Familias de 7 Paises” card game published by Naipes H. Fournier S.A, Vitoria, 1979.

1972 Parejas del Mundo

Parejas del Mundo

“Parejas del Mundo” matching pairs card game by Naipes H. Fournier, 1972.

Warren Paper Products

Warren Paper Products

Warren Paper Products Co., Lafayette, Indiana, publishers of Built-Rite toys, games and puzzles.

1981 Aventuras de Sport-Billy

Aventuras de Sport-Billy

The Adventures of Sport-Billy by H. Fournier, 1981.

1984 Chinese Costumes

Chinese Costumes

Chinese Costumes from the Winterthur Collection, published by Fournier, 1984.

1986 Christmas Playing Cards

Christmas Playing Cards

Christmas Playing Cards published by Novelty Playing Cards, Syracuse, New York, 1986.

Hamm’s Beer

Hamm’s Beer

Hamm’s Beer promotion deck with bear cartoons by Frank M. Antoncich 1968.

Victory

Victory

“Victory" cards celebrating U.S. participation in the Allied victory, c.1945.

1976 Maya Deck

Maya Deck

The Maya Deck produced by Stancraft for Hoyle, 1976.

Caleb Bartlett

Caleb Bartlett

Caleb Bartlett patriotic deck (reproduction), around 1835-40.

1951 Snap

Snap

Snap card game illustrated with animals, by Whitman Publishing Co., 1951.