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Murphy Varnish Playing Cards

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Playing Cards232 of 264Vintage Playing CardsAnniversary cards commemorating 150 years of Russian card making (1817 - 1967).
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Posted 7 years ago


(5 items)

As a card collector it is very hard not to love and treasure Transformation Playing Cards. There are a few wonderful antique varieties and the Murphy Varnish deck is probably the most desirable American one. It was published in 1883 by Andrew Dougherty and is a transformation pack which means the pips (clubs, diamonds, hearts and spades) on each card except for the face cards have been “transformed” to create a small picture. This deck also advertises Murphy Varnish on almost every card and has stunningly brilliant court cards. This one is truly a winner and is actively sought after! It can be found in the Hochman Encyclopedia of American Playing Cards on pages 179 and 206.

However there are many more recent transformation decks as well, including some that are limited editions. They are generally very clever and a fun category to search for. In the past, there were a number of people who would take an ordinary deck and create their own version of a transformation deck. These early hand transformed packs have become very collectible.

Keep an eye on this item as I plan to change the cards from time to time to give you a further glimpse into this wonderful pack.


  1. gingerakesler gingerakesler, 7 years ago
    I recently came across a double deck of old playing cards and I can't find any information on them anywhere online??
    They are in a silver box printed with "enchanting" on top and "The united states playing card co. Cinncinnati USA" on the side.
    The two decks are complete (jokers and all), and they have Pittsburgh pipe couplings Allison park, pa printed on them, and a graphic of a man with an upraised hammer and anvil and around him it says "ANVIL TRADEMARK"?
    also, there is a P on the anvil?
    Any clue?
  2. cardlover, 7 years ago
    Without a picture my guess is that they were made c1940-50 as that was the period enchanting decks were published. But are you certain this is the right box - generally a card with the back design showing would be pasted on the back of the box which would prove that the box is correct. It sounds an interesting design, perhaps you can find out more by googling the company information. Good luck!
  3. dogdoc1949 dogdoc1949, 5 years ago
    I have the Murphy's cards and was getting ready to sell them, How many cards are in the deck. I have 52 and my potential buyer says there should be 53?
  4. gingerakesler gingerakesler, 5 years ago
    For some odd reason, I am just now reading "cardlovers" response from a year ago! Wow! Below are the photos...
  5. dogdoc1949 dogdoc1949, 5 years ago
    everyone I guess I better go back to school, I can't count My Murphy's cards have 53 and the 53 is called the best card FYI.
  6. inky inky, 4 years ago
    Love the third one!...:-)
  7. Cardlover Cardlover, 4 years ago
    Thanks Inky me too!
  8. jokercollector jokercollector, 4 months ago
    Transformation decks are a magical, beautiful, and esoteric art form. I own a few but mine are contemporary:

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