The History of Playing Cards

A playing cards is a piece made of thin plastic or paper and used to play card game. The deck or pack refers to a complete deck of cards.

Many card games can be played using playing cards, including blackjack, bridge or rummy. They are also often used for other purposes, such as cartomancy and magic tricks.

The first Western playing cards were made from thin cardboard or rectangular layers of paper, which were then glued together to form a semirigid material. They were uniform in shape and size and were frequently fanned out so that the identifying marks on each card could be seen.

Early playing cards were made by hand and were costly. They were thus not widely available before the 1500s when the printing press enabled faster production.

Indicators, which are small numbers printed on opposite sides of each card, was one of the most important innovations of the 19th century. This allowed players the ability to hold the cards in a “fan”, and not need to turn them to see the face of the card, which was difficult during a game like poker or rummy.

Another innovation was to introduce double-ended, double-sided court cards. These cards made it easier to hold royal cards in a fan. This allowed them to be seen from both ends without having to turn the card.

A 52-card deck of cards has 13 ranks, divided into four suits (clubs. diamonds. hearts. spades). Each suit also contains three court cards: Jack, Queen, and Jack. The reversible (double-headed?) images are included in the King, Queen, or Jack. Each court card is associated to a specific person such as King David (Spades), Charlemagne(Hearts), Julius Caesar(Diamonds), Alexander the Great (Clubs).

The kings always represent the highest card in a suit. In the 1500s however, special significance was attached to a lower card, now known by the name ace. This concept is also reflected in the English version of poker, where a king is usually the highest card and a deuce or two are the lowest.

In the 16th century, it was common to have the names of famous people printed on the court cards. This was done to make the cards collectibles and souvenirs.

Other than the names of famous people, it was common to include important elements on court cards. Images of gods and goddesses, pharaohs included, were the most common.

Other symbols included animals and flowers. Some cards had geometric designs.

This period saw the dominance of the French in the field, and French court cards were well-known for their unique design. In the late 1600s French manufacturers began to give their court cards names based on classics like King David (Spades), Alexander the Great(Clubs), Julius Caesar (“Diamonds”), and Charlemagne (“Hearts”).