WHERE AND WHEN?

 

I've tried to provide an answer to these questions on the previous pages. It's very probable that this deck was originally created in the Netherlands, but where exactly will remain unknown. Holland became a kingdom for the first time in 1806 under King Louis Napoleon. This Kingdom of Holland only existed for a short while. It ended it 1810 when Holland was incorporated in the French Empire under Napoleon Bonaparte. After his defeat at Waterloo the Netherlands regained their sovereignty in 1813. William Frederic, son of the last stadhouder, was appointed as sovereign ruler and in 1814 the first Constitution was recorded. It wasn't until the Vienna Congress in 1815 that the Northern and Southern Netherlands were officially united and recognized as the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
I mention this chronology, because I suspect the artist of having entered some Dutch elements in this deck to celebrate a (regained) sovereignty. The first Kingdom of Holland was still too much under French influence, which makes it more probable that de deck was made after 1815. This is reasonably supported by the other findings about paper, uniform and fashion. Hence my (conservative) dating of 1815/1820.

 

 

THE PRINTING

Because all the original cards have small differences in height and width and some have a drawn outline while others have not, I've decided to skip the white borders and just have the scenes printed on the cards, from side to side, so without new borders. To establish that the designs had to be adjusted to one size. In the end the format of 64 x 95 mm appeared to bring the best solution and all cards could be copied on a 1-to-1 scale. During this process I've also removed a small spot from three cards.

Because all the files were made in this format of 64 x 95 mm. the cards had to be cut very accurately to get the exact same size. At first the expertise of Cartamundi was sought, but -besides the poor communication- in the end they could not deliver the accuracy that was promised at the intake. So it was sad, but this project had to be cancelled there.

The deck has now been printed by Heijnis & Schipper Drukkerij in Zaandijk (NL), where Marjolein and Maurice have committed themselves to this special project full of enthusiasm. Their dedication is reflected in the finishing touch of this deck.

Besides the 150 decks there are also 10 numbered sets of 4 sheets each, on which the cards are printed per suit. They can be ordered here too.

 

A FINAL REMARK

Transformation decks are not really made to be played with. The first "cards" appeared in Germany in a "Taschenbuch für 1801" as 16 illustrations for the rhyme verse Hudibras by Samuel Butler. There were only 16 cards, so not a complete deck in any way. There are other examples from the very early beginning of the 19th century, that show a limited number of cards as illustrations or uncut sheets. The first complete deck was published in Germany in 1805. Not long after more decks of this kind appeared in England and America.. Only about 50 of these transformation decks from the 19th century are known. In Belgium the Daveluy company from Bruges has published a transformed deck around 1870. But also in the beginning of the 20th century transformation decks have still been published. It has taken a few decades but modern artist have rediscovered this type of playing cards since the 1970's and some fine examples have been published until the present day. In 1983 the American collector Albert Field has described all the then existing transformation decks in a book and of each deck all cards were  shown. Since then no new 19th century transformation decks have been found. So until now. But this deck has never been printed...... until now.
You've seen a number of cards here from the very first Cotta deck from 1805. Household scenes, lovely angels and here and there a reference to death. They are in this deck too. But there are also a few cards with a more comical scene. In France these kind of decks, called "jeux à cartes transformées", often showed satirical scenes and therefore nicknamed "cartes à rire". Cards to laugh about. I hope that after some 200 years these cards can still bring a smile to your face.

 

Joop Muller, 15/09/2019                        

 

 

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