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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.

Metastasis Transformation Playing Cards, 1811

First published by S & J Fuller, Rathbone Place, London, September 1st 1811. This Nixon-Fuller deck was the first English deck now commonly known as transformation playing cards - the first use of the term "transformation".

Metastasis - Transformation of Playing Cards - 1811

First published by S & J Fuller, Rathbone Place, London, September 1st 1811. This Nixon-Fuller deck was the first English deck now commonly known as 'transformation playing cards' - the first use of the term "transformation".

A new reproduction edition: this truly rare deck, of which few copies survive, has been chosen by the E.P.C.S. to mark the 25th Anniversary of the Society. For this reproduction Barney Townshend has spent many hours painstakingly restoring the splendour of the images. Whilst they still have the appearance of antique cards, stains, damaged edges and faded wording and colour have been restored. Decks will be presented to all members, and a number will be available for sale to the public. For availability (Spring 2010) of this limited edition please contact the secretary.

A selection of the newly restored cards is shown below:

Above: a selection of the newly restored cards. Regarding the courts; KS seems to be Joseph Bonaparte, whom Napoleon appointed King of Spain (1808-13) : it has been suggested the Queen may be Napoleon's wife : QD might be Caroline, Queen of Naples (1808-14) with KD her husband Joachim Murat, who replaced Joseph as King of Naples in 1808 : The QH 'made some tarts' and the KH is believed to be John Nixon, 'self portrait'. Thanks go to Donald Welsh, Dudley Ollis, Frank van den Bergh, Yasha Beresiner and the Ortiz-Patino collection for permission to reproduce their cards.

The EPCS 25th Anniversary "Metastasis" Book

The EPCS has published a book of the 25th Anniversary Deck "Metastasis". Click on the image of the book (right), and browse through the book to see every page and every card. Each card is near A5 size, one to each page. You will also find details of purchase options. To purchase a copy of the actual limited edition deck of cards, please contact the secretary.