Metamorphosen oder Verwandlungs-Karte – Leipzig, Carl Heinrich Zoelcke, 1822.

42/52 playing cards. Coloured etching. Some soiling.

Very rare, probably unique(?), example of this important upside-down deck. Zoelcke was a cardmaker in Leipzig from 1812 to circa 1839. All decks by him are very rare. Whereas the suit signs of the established transformation playing cards are transformed into pictures, the present deck is based on optical illusion. The twelve court cards reveal a different image when has been turned upside down. A caricature of Martin Luther from circa 1522 is supposed to be the eldest printed image using reversed images. Shortly later Matthaeus Merian used this technique for one of his etchings in his dance of death. Whilst common transformation playing cards were traditionally published since the beginning of the 19th century, decks using reversed images never became popular. The present deck is one of very few antique decks using optical illusions.

In the „Beilage zur No. 81/84 der Leipziger Zeitung“ from 25/30 April 1822, Zoelcke advertised this deck as „…ganz neu ausgezeichneter… Metamorphosen oder Verwandlungs-Karten“. We couldn’t find any other bibliographical record for the present game. The 12 court cards are complete. Lacking only 10 (unillustrated) pip cards.