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History of The Deck of Playing Cards

Updated on March 13, 2018

I have always loved to play cards. My grandfather taught me various games when I was very young. Poker, crazy eights, snap, rummy 500 and cribbage were all taught to me by the time I was seven years old.

On Saturday nights at my Grandparents home, we would play a game called Rummoli. I really liked it because we played for money and I was pretty good at it. Mind you we only played with pennies, nickel, and dimes. The snacks and treats that my grandmother would put out were memorable as well which included Cheezies and cucumber sandwiches.

Poker is my favorite and I have to say that I am an online FaceBook Zynga poker addict. Not often does a day go by without me playing.

So I thought the history of the deck of cards would make for an interesting topic for this weeks HubMob, Uncommon History of Common Things.

Paul Czanne - The Card Players, 1895
Paul Czanne - The Card Players, 1895 | Source
Source
A Chinese playing card found near Turfan, dated c. 1400 AD during the Ming Dynasty. From the Museum fur Volkerkunde, Berlin. Its dimensions are 9.5 cm by 3.5 cm.
A Chinese playing card found near Turfan, dated c. 1400 AD during the Ming Dynasty. From the Museum fur Volkerkunde, Berlin. Its dimensions are 9.5 cm by 3.5 cm. | Source

History of Playing Cards

Cards go way back in time to India and China in the 9th century but they were not as we know them today. The Chinese made their first playing cards from sheets or pages. They were called money cards and had four suits comprising of coins with strings of coins. Mahjong tiles and dominoes evolved from the earliest playing cards.

When playing cards first entered Europe in the 14th century they were similar to tarot cards with swords, staves, coins, and cups.

Spades, Hearts, Diamonds, and Clubs
Spades, Hearts, Diamonds, and Clubs | Source

Card Suits

Different cultures had their own suits and it was the French in the 15th century that designed the suits we use today in most countries, being hearts representing the clergy, diamonds merchants, spade nobility and clubs peasants. German suits were acorns, hearts, hawk bells and leaves.

It was once thought that the four suits represented the four seasons and the 52 cards in a deck were for the 52 weeks in a year. This has been found to be an urban myth. Religious people would say this made them feel that it was okay to play cards without it being a gambling game.

Deck of Cards

Typical Anglo-American Playing Cards
Typical Anglo-American Playing Cards | Source
Bridge Game
Bridge Game | Source

Cards of Today “French Deck”

A 52 box of cards is called a deck or a pack of cards. Most decks will contain an additional two cards that are jokers but for most games, these are removed before play begins.

The individual cards are made from thin cardboard or thin plastic. The standard card size or Poker size is 3.5” high and 2.5” wide.

Cards for playing the game of bridge, card size are 3.5” high and 2.25”. The face of the card color will be red for hearts and diamonds and black for clubs and spades. In the deck, you have 4 aces, 4 kings, 4 queens, 4 jacks and four of each number from two to ten. The backs of the cards will have all have the same design per deck.

Each manufacturer will have a different design. There are cards that can be purchased that are of a larger print for the visually impaired as well as braille cards for the blind.

© 2011 Susan Zutautas

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    • Just Ask Susan profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan Zutautas 

      6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Keven, When I play Holdem Poker I like getting the Ace and King of Clubs.

    • kevin.howell profile image

      kevin.howell 

      6 years ago from Maysville KY

      Interesting hub. I guess if I was a playing card I would be a club. Thanks For Sharing!

    • Just Ask Susan profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan Zutautas 

      6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Stephanie, Thank you so much.

    • StephanieBCrosby profile image

      Stephanie Bradberry 

      6 years ago from New Jersey

      This is a cool hub that gives a nice succinct and informative history.

    • Just Ask Susan profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan Zutautas 

      7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Dale are you a river rat lol

    • hillrider profile image

      hillrider 

      7 years ago from Mid-west United States

      Susan, think I'll just check this round and wait to see the "river" ... lol

    • Just Ask Susan profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan Zutautas 

      7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thanks Genna and Mike glad you like it :)

    • Mike's Corner profile image

      Mike's Corner 

      7 years ago from Maryland

      Great history, Susan, I love cards and Kenny Rogers!

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 

      7 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Great read full of useful info! Up and useful.

    • Just Ask Susan profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan Zutautas 

      7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thanks Dovay and Chatkath.

    • Chatkath profile image

      Kathy 

      7 years ago from California

      I always loved cards when I was a kid, I think I wanted to beat the adults, good research & information, I had no idea!

    • Dovay Lee profile image

      Dovay Lee 

      7 years ago from China

      I always play cards when i am free but I do not know the history of cards. Good hub and I leart much from it. Thanks for the informative hub.

    • Just Ask Susan profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan Zutautas 

      7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Pamela thank you.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      7 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Great hub! We played cards when I was growing up all the time so it is interesting to read the history.

      Voted/rated up.

    • Just Ask Susan profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan Zutautas 

      7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      suziecat thanks for stopping by

      Docmo Thank you so much but I like your hub on cards much better!

      nightbear Cards are a lot of fun. My sons all love to play as well.

    • nightbear profile image

      Susan Kaul 

      7 years ago from Michiagn, USA

      Interesting history. thanks! I love playing cards. It is a wonderful pastime.

    • Docmo profile image

      Mohan Kumar 

      7 years ago from UK

      Thank you for letting me post on the same topic. Couldn't believe we've both been working on the same but then why not? This is lovely succint hub on the history of playing cards... voted up!

    • suziecat7 profile image

      suziecat7 

      7 years ago from Asheville, NC

      Interesting Hub - who would have known? Thanks for the great read.

    • Just Ask Susan profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan Zutautas 

      7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thanks cardelean and WillStarr.

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 

      7 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Educational Hub.

      Up and useful.

    • cardelean profile image

      cardelean 

      7 years ago from Michigan

      Great hub! I never knew how playing cards came about, I learned a lot. I loved the video too, one of my favorite Kenny Rogers songs.

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