Historians debate on the exact origins of the deck of cards. Most, though, believe that they originated some time during the 9th century in China, as they were the first to invent paper back in the 2nd century (can you imagine- no paper?). Within about 200 years playing cards had migrated all over the Asian continent and featured characters of popular lore as the first face cards.
It is widely believed that playing cards made their way to Europe via Middle Eastern countries in the 1400's. Their popularity quickly spread and each region developed their own style- different face cards, different amounts of suits, and so on. In Germany, common suits of the time were acorns, bells, leaves, and hearts. The French created the card suits on which we base our modern-day decks, basing the club off of the acorn and the spade off of the leaf.
Europeans additionally altered face cards to represent their respective royalty. The first face cards were king, chevalier (knight), and knave (male child or prince). In the 17th century England it was conjectured that the "k" of king and the "kn" of knave on the corners of cards were too similar, causing confusion in the heat of the game, so the knave became a jack.
Initially the king was always considered the highest card, although in France during the French Revolution especially, a special value was placed on the then lowest card, the ace. Games with a high ace were used as symbolism by the expanding lower class to illustrate their rise to power at the time.
I hope you all enjoyed this little historical blurb. I'm trying to make the history lesson posts very relevant and not dry- so let me know how I'm doing and if there's any subjects you'd like to hear about. Happy Tuesday!
Image source: Kate Spade Instagram