Tuesday, July 17, 2012

History Lesson // Playing Cards


We've all done our fair share of card playing. We grew up with them- playing Go Fish as a child, watching them in action in Alice and Wonderland, and maybe even passing them around the table in college during a game of heightened debauchery. They're the quintessential time-passer, a gambling accessory, and a social icon. So... where did they come from?

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

8 comments:

  1. I love these history lessons! I'm a sucker for little nuggets of knowledge like that though. I also love playing cards, so this is right up my alley!

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    1. So glad you're enjoying them! Thanks for stopping by!

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  2. What an interesting lesson! Thanks for sharing, love!

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    1. You're so welcome- so glad to hear that!

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  3. Great post!! I love your graphics for this one!!!

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    1. I'm so glad to hear that! I spent the weekend going through a lot of things and "standardizing" my graphics- so look for more (hopefully!) pretty things this week.

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  4. Very interesting! Thanks for sharing.

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  5. You can never be bored if you have a pack of cards :) I loved this lesson in history! xx

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Thanks for taking the time to comment!