The very first transformation deck issued by Cotta is from 1805. This deck is probably the most famous of all six, and is incredibly scarce. Original illustrations were fiddling artworks done by hand, on copper plates that were manually engraved with stipple and etching, and the cards were printed on linen period stock that was 97 mm x 69 mm in size, with blank card backs and squared corners at that time. Only the court cards were hand-colored, while the number cards used red stencils.
Cotta’s transformation cards were very successful and became a role model for later transformation decks from other publishers. And since the card backs were blank, individual cards were sometimes used by the nobility as visit cards and for leaving messages, so these playing cards often became multi-purpose items.
The images on the court cards are characters inspired by Schiller's play "Die Jungfrau von Orleans" ("Joan of Arc").
The central figure of Joan of Arc is depicted as the Queen of Spades, the Maid of Orleans who inspired the French army to victory, but was later burned at the stake.
The court cards were designated with the words "Valet", "Dame", and "Roi", which are the French terms corresponding to the Jack, Queen, and King.
In the first deck, beside Joan of Arc depicted as the Queen of Spades, other individuals closely associated with Joan include Etienne de Vignolles or La Hire (Jack of Hearts), who helped Joan to victory in the battle of Patay in 1429; and Raymond (Jack of Diamonds), a peasant who was Joan's page.
Key political leaders who figured prominently in the events surrounding Joan's life are also represented, including King Charles VII (King of Hearts), the French monarch who relied on Joan's help to reach the Rhiems, the traditional place of coronation; Charles' mother Isabeau (Queen of Hearts), who was in league with Charles' enemy; Charles' mistress Agnes Sorel (Queen of Diamonds); Charles' opponent Philippe the Good (King of Diamonds), an ally of England; and the king of Naples, René d'Anjou (King of Clubs), who lost the kingdom after defeat in battle. General Talbot (King of Spades) was the English commander of the outpost of Orleans at Saint Loup, who was wounded in battle, captured, and was part of a prisoner exchange.
Both Joan's "sister" Louison (Queen of Clubs) and Montgomery (Jack of Clubs) are fictional creations of Schiller, while the fictional Lionel (Jack of Spades) is the character who holds up Joan's sword in a location revealed by the voices that she supposedly heard telling her to help.
Limited Numbered Edition limited to 1000.
Introducing a precisely digitally hand-recreated reproduction of the next Cotta's almanac deck full of history, and for the fourth time, strongly touched by Schiller's works, continuing after the previous yellow, green, and the blue one, which was the first published complete transformation playing card deck in the world!
The red "Turandot" deck is the fourth in a series of six famous transformation playing card decks we plan to release... This fourth Cotta's almanac playing cards deck was originally published in 1809. There is no known evidence of any deck issued in 1808, and so this red almanac issued in 1809 is considered to be the fourth in a series.
Court card figures depict Arabs in various costumes, which could have been taken from sources of the seven climes (Persia, China/Turkestan, Khwârazm, Slavonia, North Africa, Byzantium, and India), which as well adds another historical value to its rarity.
Additionally to the series of Cotta's almanac decks, all influenced by notable authors, this one might also draw on aspects from another Schiller's work - especially the translation and his intriguing epic symbolic adaptation of Turandot, the famous commedia dell'arte (Italian comedy) play by Count Carlo Gozzi from 1762 after and originated in supposedly Persian story of Calaf's adventure in the theme of the Arabic and Persian tales from the collection (Thousand and One Day) Les Mille et un jours (1710–1712) by François Pétis de la Croix.
The artwork also may have been inspired by the Arab population that migrated to Germany or even studied in Tübingen where the Cotta's publishing house was founded. But mostly there was a friendship between Schiller, Goethe, Cotta, and Gozzi, who died in 1806, a year after Schiller in 1805, what might have been the true impulse.