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Cotta's Almanac Transformation Playing Cards (1811) - Reproduction Deck #6 (Kickstarter)

1811 "Knightly Orders" Deck 6 of 6 in a series - Precisely Hand-Recreated & Printed by USPCC - 2 editions

Deck cost: US$10 per standard deck, US$12 for limited edition deck (individually numbered)
Set cost: US$60 for all six decks in the series
Current funding level: already funded!
Kickstarter ends: Friday November 12, 2021


Transformation playing cards involve cleverly incorporating the pips on the cards into a larger picture. So an imaginative artist might transform the Heart pips into faces, the Diamond pips into hats, or the Club pips into paw prints. Transformation playing cards exhibit a level of creativity and ingenuity like few other decks, because the artists creating them must work within the limitations produced by the need to incorporate the pips into their design, and work with this in a creative, imaginative, and original manner.

Transformation playing cards first started appearing in the 1800s, and especially in the latter half of the nineteenth century there was a real boom. But the honour of the very first published and complete deck of transformation cards goes to Johann Freidrich Cotta, the man at the helm of publishing house J.G. Cotta from Tübingen, Germany, around 1804. J.F. Cotta went on to produce a series of six playing card almanacs in successive years from 1805-1811, with a new deck appearing in all but one of those years.


A special project is underway, spearheaded by Will Roya from PlayingCardDecks, to produce reproductions of these rare and historic decks. Roya has engaged the assistance of graphic designer Azured Ox, who recreates the cards digitally. The plan has been to produce all six Cotta decks individually within two years, and this final deck will complete this special project. The first five decks of the series have already been printed, and the sixth and final deck is now up for crowdfunding on Kickstarter.

The sixth deck of the playing card almanac series was issued in 1811, and was themed around knightly orders. The court card figures depict members of various knightly orders and the characters are in the robes of various orders of real knighthood/damehood or spiritual orders.


Pictured on the court cards (Jack, Queen, King) of this deck are:
● Clubs: Order of St. George, Company of the Amanthe, Order of the Crescent
● Spades: Order of St. Catherine of Mount Sinai, Order of the Sash, Order of Amaranthe
● Hearts: Order of the Porcupine, Tribe of Amazons, Knights Templars
● Diamonds: Order of St. Lazarus, Order of the Axe, Order of the Elephant

The theme of the number cards is romantic or even spiritual with a variety of subjects. Sixteen of the pip cards have scenes that can be considered illustrative of the four seasons.


As with the previous reproduction decks produced by Will Roya and PlayingCardDecks, the Cotta decks are being printed by United States Playing Card Company, makers of the well-known Bicycle brand. This means we can expect a quality product with good looks and good handling. Funding will come with the help of Kickstarter, and Will Roya is an experienced and respected creator with a proven track record. He has often used crowdfunding to produce his decks, typically with a fairly quick turnaround.

Special purchase options for this project include an attractive uncut sheet, and the opportunity to purchase a complete set of all Cotta's Almanac decks for just $60. The five previous reproduction decks in this series can also be purchased individually here.


The Cotta transformation decks are extremely significant, given the many transformation decks they subsequently inspired, and the unique place they occupy in playing card history. To be able to enjoy them in a fine modern version that carefully reproduces these keystone decks is a real privilege, and I'm delighted that these classics are being brought to contemporary audiences with a quality edition!


Here is a thread with more information about the entire project: The Famous J.G. Cotta Transformation Decks

Kickstarter link:

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