The Mysterious History of Playing Cards

Published February 19, 2014 by Admin

The Mysterious History of Playing Cards

When playing cards, you're actually taking part of a rich tradition.

Playing cards are one of the oldest games of human civilization, lasting over twenty centuries. A standard deck contains 52 cards, said to represent the 52 weeks of the year, and each deck contains a suit or family or 13 cards. The choice of 13 is also meaningful as it the number of months in the lunar calendar, still followed by certain religions. Hundreds of different games have been designed for playing cards, and online poker and online baccarat form part of the natural evolution of this long tradition.

The First Playing Cards

The first playing cards are traced back to ancient China, to as early as 9th century. Whilst it's pretty challenging to prove such a thing, the main argument rests on the fact that paper was invented in China.

European Playing Cards

There are many theories as to how playing cards arrived to Europe - the most dominant is that the Malmuks of Egypt brought them to Europe in the late 14th century.

The first European playing deck has been traced to 1367 Bern, Switzerland. From then on card games spread over region like wildfire.

The standardized four-suit deck comes from Rouen, France where they were batch-produced by woodcuts around 1480. Here the suit symbols were standardized into hearts, diamonds, spades and clubs. England was next to adopt the French design.

What do each of the four suits represent?

It is widely thought that of the suit symbols represent the four classes in French society, with spades representing the spear tips of French nobility and Knights etc; diamonds no doubt, represent the French merchant class, clubs symbolize the peasantry and the heart represents the clergy and their love of god.

Who Are The Four Kings in a Deck?

The four kings in a deck are said to represent four great kings from Western history: The King of Spades allegedly represents David King of Israel, the King of Clubs is said to be Alexander the Great, Charlemagne of France is the King of Hearts and the King of Diamonds is the almighty Caesar Augustus.

Did you know...

The earliest form of playing cards were thought to have been round in shape!

Spades is the only suit where all the human figures face to the right.

Canada's first paper currency was in actual fact hand-written on the back of playing cards! As there was a shortage of coins, the French governor Jaques de Meulles, paid off some war debts with them in 1685.

The Diamond King is the only one not to hold a sword in his hand, whilst the King of Hearts is the only one not sporting a mustache! Only two of the infinite mysteries embedded in the long and winding history of the playing card.

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