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A Brief History of Playing Cards

By Helly Nickolas Subscribe to RSS | May 24th 2012 | Views:

Playing Cards in various forms have existed for thousands of years and

hundreds of games have been devised during this time. A standard deck of

playing cards comprises 52 cards, in four suits of thirteen cards. Standard cards have the highest ranking cards as the King, Queen and Jack, and sometimes contain an additional cards represented by the Court Jester or Joker.

The most common set of Kings and Queens are from the English royal houses, although originally French nobility was used. But it was these Kings, Queens and Knights from the English households, typically dressed in their 16th costumes that present the normal Anglo-American playing card.

Playing Cards are believed to have arrived in Europe about seven hundred

years ago, possibly by the merchant seaman Marco Polo who brought them back from the Far East. One of the earliest references comes in 1379 discussing the prohibition of the use of cards on Sunday or the Sabbath. However, by that time, playing-cards were well and truly ensconced in European culture and were as well known in Switzerland and Germany as they were along the Mediterranean coast.

The earliest archaeological documentation of paper playing cards comes from 12th century China. Apparently the deck was arranged in four suits of coins, more coins, strings of coins and myriads of strings of coins, with numerical values 1-9. The cards are thought to have been accepted as a kind of surrogate paper currency.

By the late 1300s playing cards were popular right across Europe and

card-printing factories were emerging everywhere. Germany was the leading manufacturer and developed wood blocks to speed up printing. The first playing cards to arrive in England were Latin suited and by the 1590’s the most common cards in circulation were those of French origin.

The Ace of Spades has been regarded as the insignia card of the deck since the mid 1700. Traditionally it is used to display the manufacturer’s logo or brand name as a testament to quality and a mark of identification. The practice began in England when, under the reign of King James 1st, a duty was imposed on local playing card manufacturers. The Ace of Spades carried the insignia of the printing house, so they could be identified, and a stamp as proof of tax paid. The duty was abolished in the 1960’s but the practice of inscribing the brand insignia on the Ace of Spades remains.

By 1870, playing cards in Europe were being printed and manufactured to

look very much as they do these days. The accepted suits were the Hearts, Spades, Clubs and Diamonds and the honour cards were used universally.

Meanwhile, over in the USA full-scale industrial level production of

playing cards was beginning. Playing cards had entered America through the colonies and with countless immigrants who arrived on her shores. With the fast growth in US population, their use was only becoming more and more widespread in the bars and saloons staggered across the western frontiers.

And to this day, playing cards have retained a very similar look and style to those days of just a hundreds years past.

Helly Nickolas - About Author:
The Bridge Shop supplies all types of bridge related equipments such as playing cards, bridge playing software, bridge giftware and more..Visit our site for more information....

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