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Steve Brooks
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Hey gang,

Back in March my pal Will Roya produced the Cotta's Almanac #1 Transformation Playing Cards Reproduction Decks and they turned out just beautiful. That said, if somehow you missed out on getting them - Will has produced the Cotta's Almanac #2 Transformation Playing Cards Reproduction - This is deck 2 of 6 in a series. These are beautiful reproductions of very rare Transformation type playing cards - you must get these if you are a collector of playing cards!



The Next Cotta's Almanac Transformation Playing Cards In The Series...


Introducing a precisely digitally hand-recreated reproduction of the next Cotta's almanac deck full of history continuing a year after the previous blue one, which was the first published complete transformation playing card deck in the world!

The green "Andromaque" deck is the second in a series of six famous decks we plan to release in 2020...


The second transformation deck issued by Cotta is from 1806, following the remarkable success of the first almanac deck.
This deck was also aimed to have well-known court cards, the interesting main character, and featured figures from classical antiquity, taken from sources such as Greek and Roman plays, as well as the Bible, which adds another historical value to its rarity


(Original illustrations were fiddling artworks - manually stipple engraved & etched on copper plates)


NOTE:There are many historical values in the series of decks!
But if you are only interested in the deck details & images instead of history & backstory with additional description on the theme individually to each deck, then please skip about halfway down.


The story behind these playing cards, which probably conceal most of the world's playing card secrets, begins in Tübingen, a city in southwest Germany.


The atmosphere here is bursting with memories and experiences of the past. Visitors today can still enjoy the small stairs, narrow alleys, and pointed gables that shape the silhouette of old Tübingen on the way to its famous castle.
Tübingen is home to one of Europe’s oldest universities and even today combines the colorful bustle of an university town full of students with the flair of a restored medieval center and a touch of many ancient cultures.
The Romans already left some traces of their presence here in AD 85, but the city itself dates from the 6th or 7th century. Little wonder that this city attracted many eminent notables and artists, who found it inspirational for their work.


The idea behind the concept of Cotta's transformation decks was to create a series of six decks on an annual basis from 1805-1811. Each deck would focus on a different theme, with the second set based on Racine's plays such as Andromache (1667), Britannicus (1669), Iphigénie (1674), and Esther (1689), which featured figures from the history of classical antiquity, Greek and Roman mythology, Bible, ...

Forming a "Card Almanac" (Karten Almanach), each card in the deck would represent one of the 52 weeks in a calendar year. At the time it was popular to print various almanacs, which were special pocketbooks for the new year, and often included a short poem or quote for each week of the calendar year. It was a logical move to connect each of these 52 weeks with playing cards.


The famous Cotta's publishing house...

Johann Friedrich Cotta (*April 27, 1764 - December 29, 1832), publisher, industrial pioneer, and politician, the man at the helm of family publishing house J. G. Cotta
(founded yet in late 17th century by his grandfather Johann Georg Cotta *1631 - 1692) from Tübingen, Germany, around 1804 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.


In addition to Johann Friedrich Cotta's high standing as a publisher, he was a man of great practical energy, which flowed into various fields of activity, he promoted even many reforms and supported talented individuals.
It is also noticeable that in such period of his life he published numerous works of his own literature, political materials, and also yearbooks.

Cotta did have the goal of replacing the "inelegant" designs of contemporary German playing cards with a more artistic high-quality deck. But these playing cards were not intended for playing games with in the first place,
but rather for stimulating discussion about the "themed" images on each of the cards. Each year the court cards were designed to represent another theme, while the number cards featured pictures that were largely independent
drawings without a common topic, since they were especially intended as conversation pieces and depicted happenings.


The Cotta's famous house was the place, where among other brilliant German authors of the time, the works of Schiller and later of Goethe were published there in its journal pages, as well as journal's major contributor was Heinrich Heine,
who with his early lyric poetry has inspired even composers such as Robert Schumann and Franz Schubert who set his works into music...

So the picture that emerges from this time in Cotta's life is that he was constantly engaged in thoughtful conversation with literary men, and enjoyed close friendships with leading figures of the day like Schiller,
Huber, Gottlieb Konrad Pfeffel, and others, many of whose works he published.


The friendship that gave birth to the idea of Cotta's transformation playing card almanac decks...

Johann Friedrich Cotta's long term friendship with the famous German poet, dramatist, philosopher, and historian Friedrich Schiller was well known. In 1795 Schiller and Cotta founded the Horen,
a periodical that became important for students of German literature. Schiller's goal was to use his work to infuse higher ideas into the common lives of men, by giving them a nobler human culture,
and “to reunite the divided political world under the banner of truth and beauty.” It was as a result of this relationship that Goethe became part of a close circle of friends with Cotta and Schiller.
Even today there is evidence at Cotta's house of Goethe having slept there.


It is probably this friendship that gave birth to the idea of creating a unique decks of transformation playing cards with the purposes of igniting discussion about the "themed" picture on each card.
This was after all a time when people were open to such ideas, and producing a series of playing cards as almanacs for a continuous period of years was a natural development.


Unexplained stories, hidden mysteries, secrets...

Much of historical happenings, influences, and activities would later find a place in the Cotta Decks, including events in the life of Cotta's own family and notable figures like Schiller and Goethe.
Other important influences include the literature, art, history, politics (e.g, Napoleon's invasion), and religious reforms of the time, which all served as an important context to shape the art in the decks themselves.

For example, Schiller experienced a grave illness that led to his death, and this around (in blue 1805 Cotta's Almanac), as well as many more, are even depicted in the playing cards from the Cotta decks...In short, there is significant evidence of such connections between the artistic pictures the the immediate context that produced them.

*Even for this second green deck 1806 Cotta's Almanac, we may just say unconfirmed thoughts we got during the deck reproduction, that continuing on the theme of four Jean Racine's plays combined, might be the Cotta's next step connected with the death of Schiller, who was working on translations of Jean Racine's playwrights into the German language.


It is especially significant for the way it displays meaningful and inspirational happenings from the time; in this second deck, the theme may reflect something of the religious climate of the day, also with assumed depictions from the life of noble families, etc...



The images on the court cards are the "Greek and Roman mythology" characters mostly centered around the Trojan war and inspired by Jean Racine's plays such as Iphigénie, Esther, Britannicus and the "Andromaque" ("Andromache") which was first time performed on 17 November 1667 before the court of Louis XIV in the Louvre in the private chambers of the Queen, Marie Thérèse, by the royal company of actors, called "Les Grands Comédiens", with Thérèse Du Parc in the title role. Andromaque, as the third of Racine's plays, written at the age of 27, established its author's reputation as one of the great playwrights in France.

*(We technically named this almanac deck the "Andromache" in its title for the main character "Andromaque" depicted as Queen of Spades, same as Joan of Arc was placed there on the Queen of Spades card in previous blue Cotta's deck themed on Joan.)

Around the time of Cotta's playing cards being produced, lots of creative people have found inspiration in Racine's playwrights. The composer André Grétry wrote a three-act opera, Andromaque, with a libretto based on the Racine play, which premiered in 1780. In addition, Rossini's two-act 1819 opera, Ermione, is based on Racine's play too.


The central figure of Andromaque is depicted as the Queen of Spades, she is the wife of the Trojan military hero Hector, daughter of Eetion, and sister to Podes and six other brothers; her name Andromache represents "courage" and has a meaning of "man fighter". (And so she might be the most interesting "main" character of the second Cotta's almanac deck.)

Andromache was taken from her father's household by Hector and they together fit the Greek ideal of a happy and productive marriage, which heightens the tragedy of their shared misfortune. Andromache portrayed the role of perfect wife and mother who, a full year after the destruction of Troy, fulfills the fate of conquered Trojan women in ancient warfare as a widow held in captivity with her young son by Pyrrhus in Epirus, and later a distressed mother who despairs at the murder of her son Astyanax...



  • Printed by USPCC on Classic Stock
  • Official Poker Size
  • A beautiful Embossed Finish
  • Includes 52 Cards + 2 Extra Jokers + 2 Extra Collectible Cards
  • Metallic Ink On Both Box & Backs!
  • Custom Seals - Numbered and Standard
  • Puzzle Image on all Tuck Spines of the Series
  • Digitally Hand-Recreated and Designed by Azured Ox
  • Produced By Will Roya


Cotta's second deck was, as well as the first deck, designed by Countess Mary Day von Jennison-Walworth (sometimes spelled with a single 'n'). Her maiden name was Beauclerk, and she was the wife of Count Francis Jenison Walworth (1764–1824). She was an illegitimate (twin) child who led a very colorful life and finally settled down somewhat after marrying Count Francis in 1797. (Probably, she was creating illustrations in Stuttgart.)



After the success of the first blue Cotta's almanac deck, to meet your demand, now we come with two versions of second green Cotta's deck limited edition - the "Numbered" and the "Standard". As a campaign before, we are limiting this 2nd "Numbered" deck to only 1,000 copies of tuck which is the whole gold-inked with custom numbered seals. Additional "Standard" limited edition decks are created just with a slight difference on tuck designed with dark and gold ink combination and the same custom seals (non-numbered).


The design of both versions of Cotta's limited edition tuck boxes, the standard and the numbered, created by Azured Ox, have been inspired by the old books and published writers work using the gold ink on their covers as well as combined with the dark ink.



With the Elements of Heraldic Achievement...

Includes heraldry symbols connected with the family and past of the noble designer countess Jenison von Walworth who created the most of the Cotta's decks...



The entire 6 deck series is in many ways designed by Azured Ox to meet collector's demand (as "collection of historical books") and will be produced with the piece of puzzle image on each tuck spine (left side of the box) to create together a nice display of the Tuebingen monument surroundings, where the idea for Cotta's decks was born.


*(These are just "Digital Demonstrations" to present ink combinations of both editions)






Six Unique Different Card Back Patterns Designed, with Regard to Card Handling, Individually for Each of the Cotta's Deck Year Almanacs.


Classic Style Borderless Full-Bleed Card Back Design with Luxury Feeling and Metallic Ink




The publisher's name was placed on the Ace of Clubs as follows: "A Tubinge chez J. G. Cotta, Libraire."




The transformations on the number cards have no reference to each other or to the court cards (as well lots of them might be considered as an unexplained mystery).


Classical, Historical, Mythological, Biblical...

The court cards were designated with the words "Valet", "Dame", and "Roi", which are the French terms corresponding to the Jack, Queen, and King.

There is evidence of Tübingen having a Jewish community in its past (e.g. the Middle Ages), but since catholic reforms were being enacted when this deck was being produced, this also may have been a motive for choosing illustrations that depicted classical and historical heroes and heroines mostly from Greek mythology, as well as the major roles from tragedies by French playwriter and dramatist Jean Racine, such as Andromaque, Iphigénie, Esther, and Britannicus.

Ahasuerus (King of Spades) is the Biblical name for Xerxes, the King of Persia who died in 465 BC. Other Biblical characters include Esther (Queen of Clubs), Xerxes' wife and Jewish heroine who rescued her nation from the evil Haman; and her uncle Mordecai (Jack of Hearts). Agrippina the Younger (Queen of Diamonds) was Nero's mother, while Sextus Afranius Burrus (Jack of Spades) was a Praetorian prefect, whom Agrippina helped to his position under Claudius and Nero.

Mythical characters include Andromache (Queen of Spades), the wife of Hector of Troy, described in the famous Iliad; Ulysses (King of Hearts), the Greek leader and hero from the Odyssey; Agamemnon (King of Diamonds), leader of the Greeks in the Trojan War; Iphigenia (Queen of Hearts), Agamemnon and Clytemnestra's daughter; Orestes (Jack of Diamonds), their son who kills his mother and her lover for murdering his father; Pyrrhus (King of Clubs), son of Achilles,
who is put to death by Orestes; and Arcas (Jack of Clubs), son of Jupiter and Kalisto, who was a servant to Agamemnon.


Burrhus, tutor of Nero the Emperor, Agrippina was Nero's mother and she helped Burrhus on his position;

Andromache, the wife of the Trojan military hero Hector, daughter of Eetion, and sister to Podes and six other brothers, she was held in captivity by Pyrrhus;

Ahasuerus, King of Persia.


Mordecai, Uncle to Esther

In Greek mythology, Iphigenia was a daughter of King Agamemnon and Queen Clytemnestra, (and so sister of Orestes), and thus a princess of Mycenae.

Odysseus, Greek hero also known by the Latin variant Ulysses


Arcas, servant to Agamemnon

Esther (Queen of Persia) is described in all versions of the biblical Book of Esther as the Jewish queen of a Persian king Ahasuerus. In the narrative, Ahasuerus seeks a new wife after his queen, Vashti refuses to obey him, and Esther is chosen for her beauty.

Neoptolemus, also called Pyrrhus, was the son of the warrior Achilles and the princess Deidamia in Greek mythology, and also the mythical progenitor of the ruling dynasty of the Molossians of ancient Epirus.


Orestes was the son of Clytemnestra and Agamemnon, (and so the brother of Iphigenia). He is the subject of several Ancient Greek plays and of various myths connected with his madness and purification, which retain obscure threads of much older ones.

Agrippina, widow of Domitius Enobarbus father of Nero, & from the second marriage, widow of Emperor Claudius

In Greek mythology, Agamemnon was a king of Mycenae, the son, or grandson, of King Atreus and Queen Aerope of Mycenae, the brother of Menelaus, the husband of Clytemnestra and the father of Iphigenia, Electra or Laodike, Orestes and Chrysothemis. Legends make him the king of Mycenae or Argos, thought to be different names for the same area. When Menelaus's wife, Helen, was taken to Troy by Paris, Agamemnon commanded the united Greek armed forces in the ensuing Trojan War.


At last, we came with an idea to reflect the opposite of noble life and to bring closer to you even more of the unique artistic history placed on extra collectible playing cards...



Also, we thought it could be interesting to put other illustrations from the far past on the additional extra cards, in respect to year almanacs, we came with an idea of twelve calendar months in the series as an exclusive collection of unique historical artworks...




An absolutely original playing card masterpiece to hang on your wall (double-sided)



With help from you (the backers) we plan to produce the entire 6 deck series! The color of each tuck box created by Azured Ox has been inspired by Goethe's experimental optic and color theory, since Goethe was an important contemporary of Cotta, along with Schiller. (Goethe's deepest immersion into colors was during Cotta's decks issuing).



Goethe’s spent years on his theory (built on wavelength theory of light broken into 7 colors demonstration after Newton), which became a personal obsession in his last years,
and which he considered more important than his literary works.

Goethe believed that colors arise from the interaction between light and darkness, light and dark edges along the spectrum; that colors are realities, phenomena of nature...
His color theory was intended to be a paradigmatic model for natural science in general, and Goethe was concerned with the psychological effects of each color, as well.

He believed that colors symbolize different values and that colors have a clear effect on the mind and feelings. Goethe had little use for concepts of divinity or for systematic thinking.
His theory formulated a psychological and philosophical account of the way we actually experience color as a phenomenon.



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"Always be you because nobody else can" - Steve Brooks
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Reviewer EndersGame
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Profile of EndersGame
This is a fantastic project that definitely deserves some attention.

The first deck of the series has already been printed and will be available from the publisher soon. The second deck now up for crowdfunding on Kickstarter was first issued by Cotta in 1806, and features on the court cards well-known figures from classical antiquity, taken from sources such as Greek and Roman plays, as well as the Bible.


Once again it's being produced by Will Roya from PlayingCardDecks, in a quality edition printed by United States Playing Card Company. I'm definitely looking forward to having a published version of this in my hands!

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