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A playing card is a piece of specially prepared
card stock Card stock, also called cover stock and pasteboard, is paper that is thicker and more durable than normal writing and printing paper Paper is a thin sheet material Material is a substance Substance may refer to: * Substance (Jainism ...
, heavy paper, thin cardboard,
plastic-coated paperPlastic-coated paper is a coated or laminated composite material made of paper or paperboard with a plastic layer or treatment on a surface. This type of coated paper is most used in the food packaging, food and drink packaging industry. Function T ...
, cotton-paper blend, or thin plastic that is marked with distinguishing motifs. Often the front (face) and back of each card has a finish to make handling easier. They are most commonly used for playing
card game A card game is any game A game is a structured form of play Play most commonly refers to: * Play (activity), an activity done for enjoyment * Play (theatre), a work of drama Play may refer also to: Computers and technology * Googl ...

card game
s, and are also used in
magic trick Magic, which encompasses the subgenres of illusion, stage magic, and close up magic, among others, is a performing art in which audiences are entertainment, entertained by tricks, effects, or illusions of seemingly impossible feats, using natur ...
s,
cardistry Cardistry is the performance art Performance art is an artwork or art exhibition created through actions executed by the artist or other participants. It may be live, through documentation, spontaneously or written, presented to a public in a ...
,
card throwing Card throwing is the art of throwing standard playing cards with great accuracy and/or force. It is performed both as part of stage magic shows and as a competitive physical feat among magicians, with official records existing for longest distance ...
, and
card houses
card houses
; cards may also be collected. Some patterns of
Tarot playing card The tarot (, first known as trionfi (cards), trionfi and later as tarocchi or tarock) is a pack of playing cards, used from the mid-15th century in various parts of Europe to play games such as Italian tarocchini, French tarot and Austrian König ...
are also used for
divination Divination (from Latin ''divinare'', 'to foresee, to foretell, to predict, to prophesy') is the attempt to gain insight into a question or situation by way of an occult The occult, in the broadest sense, is a category of supernatural ...

divination
, although bespoke cards for this use are more common. Playing cards are typically palm-sized for convenient handling, and usually are sold together in a set as a deck of cards or pack of cards. The most common type of playing card is that found in the
French-suited French-suited playing cards or French-suited cards are playing cards, cards that use the French Suit (cards), suits of (clovers or clubs ), (tiles or diamonds ), (hearts ), and (pikes or spades ). Each suit contains three fac ...
,
standard 52-card pack The standard 52-card deck of French-suited playing cards is the most common pack of playing cards used today. In English-speaking countries it is the only traditional pack used for playing cards; in many countries of the world, however, it is used ...
, of which the most common design is the
English pattern French-suited playing cards or French-suited cards are cards that use the French suits of (clovers or clubs ), (tiles or diamonds ), (hearts ), and (pikes or spades ). Each suit contains three face cards: the ( knave or ja ...
, followed by the
Belgian-Genoese pattern French-suited playing cards or French-suited cards are playing cards, cards that use the French Suit (cards), suits of (clovers or clubs ), (tiles or diamonds ), (hearts ), and (pikes or spades ). Each suit contains three fac ...
. However, many countries use other, traditional types of playing card, including those that are
German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language The German la ...
,
Italian Italian may refer to: * Anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Italy ** Italians, an ethnic group or simply a citizen of the Italian Republic ** Italian language, a Romance language *** Regional Italian, regional variants of the ...
,
Spanish Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards, a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, Canada * Spanish River (disambiguation), the name of several ...
and
Swiss-suited (blue) and Swiss (orange) playing cards in Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Parts of Swiss German speaking Switzerland ,german: Schweizer(in),french: Suisse(sse), it, svizzero/svizzera or , rm, Svizzer/Svizra , government_type = Federalism, Fede ...
.
Tarot card The tarot (, first known as trionfi (cards), trionfi and later as tarocchi or tarock) is a pack of playing cards, used from the mid-15th century in various parts of Europe to play games such as Italian tarocchini, French tarot and Austrian König ...
s (also known locally as ''Tarocks'' or ''tarocchi'') are an old genre of playing card that is still very popular in France, central and Eastern Europe and Italy. Asia, too, has regional cards such as the Japanese
hanafuda are a style of Japan, Japanese playing card, playing cards, made from paper and cardboard. They are typically smaller than Western Playing card, playing cards, only 2⅛ by 1¼ inches (5.4 by 3.2 cm). On the face of each card is a depiction of flow ...
. The reverse side of the card is often covered with a pattern that will make it difficult for players to look through the translucent material to read other people's cards. Playing cards are available in a wide variety of styles, as decks may be custom-produced for
casino A casino is a facility for certain types of gambling. Casinos are often built near or combined with hotels, resorts, restaurants, retail shopping, cruise ships, and other tourist attractions. Some casinos are also known for hosting live entertai ...

casino
s and
magicians Magician or The Magician may refer to: Performers * A practitioner of Magic (supernatural) * A practitioner of Magic (illusion) * Magician (fantasy), a character in a fictional fantasy context Entertainment Books * ''The Magician'', an 18th-cent ...
(sometimes in the form of
trick deck A trick deck usually refers to a deck of playing cards that has been altered in some way to allow magicians to perform certain card tricks where sleight of hand would be too difficult or impractical. Trick decks Stripper deck A stripper deck ( ...
s), made as promotional items, or intended as
souvenir A souvenir (from French, meaning "a remembrance or memory"), memento, keepsake, or token of remembrance is an object a person acquires for the memories the owner associates with it. A souvenir can be any object that can be collected or purchas ...

souvenir
s, artistic works,
educational Education is the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, value (ethics), values, morals, beliefs, habits, and personal development. Educational methods include teaching, training, storytelling, discussion ...

educational
tools, or accessories. Decks of cards or even single cards are also as a hobby or for monetary value. Cards may also be produced for
trading card A trading card (or collectible card) is a small card, usually made out of paperboard Paperboard is a thick paper-based material. While there is no rigid differentiation between paper and paperboard, paperboard is generally thicker (usually ove ...
sets or
collectible card game A collectible card game (CCG), also called a trading card game (TCG) among other names, is a type of card game that mixes strategy game, strategic deck building elements with features of trading cards, introduced with ''Magic: The Gathering'' in ...
s, which can comprise hundreds if not thousands of unique cards.


History


China

Playing cards may have been invented during the
Tang dynasty The Tang dynasty (, ; ), or Tang Empire, was an imperial dynasty of China that ruled from 618 to 907, with an interregnum An interregnum (plural interregna or interregnums) is a period of discontinuity or "gap" in a government, organiza ...
around the 9th century AD as a result of the usage of woodblock printing technology. The earliest known text containing a possible reference to card games is a 9th-century text known as the ''Collection of Miscellanea at Duyang'', written by Tang dynasty writer Su E. It describes Princess Tongchang, daughter of
Emperor Yizong of Tang Emperor Yizong of Tang (December 28, 833 – August 15, 873), né Li Wen, later changed to Li Cui (), was an emperor of the Tang dynasty The Tang dynasty (, ; ), or Tang Empire, was an imperial dynasty of China that ruled from 618 to 907, ...
, playing the "leaf game" in 868 with members of the Wei clan, the family of the princess's husband. The first known book on the "leaf" game was called the ''Yezi Gexi'' and allegedly written by a Tang woman. It received commentary by writers of subsequent dynasties. The
Song dynasty The Song dynasty (; ; 960–1279) was an imperial dynasty of China that began in 960 and lasted until 1279. The dynasty was founded by Emperor Taizu of Song Emperor Taizu of Song (21 March 927 – 14 November 976), personal name Zhao Kua ...
(960–1279) scholar
Ouyang Xiu Ouyang Xiu (1007 – 1072), courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in the East Asian cultural sphere, including Ch ...

Ouyang Xiu
(1007–1072) asserts that the "leaf" game existed at least since the mid-Tang dynasty and associated its invention with the as a writing medium. However, Ouyang also claims that the "leaves" were pages of a book used in a board game played with dice, and that the rules of the game were lost by 1067.
Parlett, DavidDavid Parlett (born 18 May 1939 in London London is the capital city, capital and List of urban areas in the United Kingdom, largest city of England and the United Kingdom. The city stands on the River Thames in the south-east of England, at th ...
,
The Chinese "Leaf" Game
, March 2015.
Other games revolving around alcoholic drinking involved using playing cards of a sort from the Tang dynasty onward. However, these cards did not contain suits or numbers. Instead, they were printed with instructions or forfeits for whomever drew them. The earliest dated instance of a game involving cards occurred on 17 July 1294 when "Yan Sengzhu and Zheng Pig-Dog were caught playing cards hi paiand that wood blocks for printing them had been impounded, together with nine of the actual cards."
William Henry Wilkinson Sir William Henry Wilkinson (traditional Chinese: 務謹順, simplified Chinese: 务谨顺; May 10, 1858The Foreign Office list and diplomatic and consular year book for 1917, Foreign Office, Great Britain. - 1930) was a British Empire, British Si ...
suggests that the first cards may have been actual paper currency which doubled as both the tools of gaming and the stakes being played for, similar to
trading card A trading card (or collectible card) is a small card, usually made out of paperboard Paperboard is a thick paper-based material. While there is no rigid differentiation between paper and paperboard, paperboard is generally thicker (usually ove ...
games. Using paper money was inconvenient and risky so they were substituted by
play money Play money is noticeably fake bills or coins ContextObjects in Spans (COinS) is a method to embed bibliographic metadata in the HTML code of web pages. This allows bibliographic software to publish machine-readable bibliographic items and clie ...
known as "money cards". One of the earliest games in which we know the rules is ''
madiao ''Madiao'' (), also ''ma diao'', ''ma tiu'' or ''ma tiao'', is a late imperial Chinese trick-taking A trick-taking game is a card Card or The Card may refer to: People with the name * Card (surname) Arts and entertainment * Playing card ...
'', a
trick-taking game A trick-taking game is a card game, card or tile-based game in which play of a ''Hand (card games), hand'' centers on a series of finite rounds or units of play, called ''tricks'', which are each evaluated to determine a winner or ''taker'' of tha ...
, which dates to the
Ming Dynasty The Ming dynasty (), officially the Great Ming, was the Dynasties in Chinese history, ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644 following the collapse of the Mongol Empire, Mongol-led Yuan dynasty. The Ming dynasty was the last imperial dynas ...

Ming Dynasty
(1368–1644). 15th-century scholar described it is as being played with 38 "money cards" divided into four suits: 9 in
coins A coin is a small, flat, (usually, depending on the country or value) round piece of metal A metal (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hell ...
, 9 in strings of coins (which may have been misinterpreted as sticks from crude drawings), 9 in
myriad A myriad (from Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek (, ), ...
s (of coins or of strings), and 11 in tens of myriads (a myriad is 10,000). The two latter suits had ''
Water Margin ''Water Margin'' is one of the earliest Chinese novels written in vernacular Mandarin Mandarin may refer to: * Mandarin (bureaucrat), a bureaucrat of Imperial China (the original meaning of the word) ** by extension, any senior government ...
'' characters instead of pips on them with Chinese to mark their rank and suit. The suit of coins is in reverse order with 9 of coins being the lowest going up to 1 of coins as the high card.


Persia and Arabia

Despite the wide variety of patterns, the suits show a uniformity of structure. Every suit contains twelve cards with the top two usually being the court cards of king and
vizier A vizier (; ar, وزير, wazīr; fa, وزیر, vazīr), or wazir, is a high-ranking political advisor or minister in the near east. The caliphs gave the title ''wazir'' to a minister formerly called ' (secretary), who was at first merely a ...
and the bottom ten being
pip cards Pips are small but easily countable items, such as the dots on dominoes and dice, or the symbols on a playing card that denote its Suit (cards), suit and value. Dice On dice, pips are small dots on each face of a common six-sided die. These pip ...
. Half the suits use reverse ranking for their pip cards. There are many motifs for the suit pips but some include coins, clubs, jugs, and swords which resemble later Mamluk and Latin suits.
Michael Dummett Sir Michael Anthony Eardley Dummett (1925–2011) was an English academic described as "among the most significant British philosophers of the last century and a leading campaigner for racial tolerance and equality." He was, until 1992, Wykeham ...
speculated that
Mamluk Mamluk ( ar, مملوك, mamlūk (singular), , ''mamālīk'' (plural), translated as "one who is owned", meaning "", also as ''Mameluke'', ''mamluq'', ''mamluke'', ''mameluk'', ''mameluke'', ''mamaluke'', or ''marmeluke'') is a term most commo ...

Mamluk
cards may have descended from an earlier deck which consisted of 48 cards divided into four suits each with ten pip cards and two court cards.


Egypt

By the 11th century, playing cards were spreading throughout the Asian continent and later came into Egypt. The oldest surviving cards in the world are four fragments found in the Keir Collection and one in the
Benaki Museum The Benaki Museum, established and endowed in 1930 by Antonis Benakis in memory of his father Emmanuel Benakis, is housed in the Benakis family mansion in downtown Athens , image_skyline = File:Athens Montage L.png, cent ...
. They are dated to the 12th and 13th centuries (late
Fatimid The Fatimid Caliphate ( ar, ٱلْخِلَافَة ٱلْفَاطِمِيَّة , al-Ḫilāfa al-Fāṭimiyya) was an Ismaili Shia Ismāʿīlism ( ar, الإسماعيلية, ''al-ʾIsmāʿīlīyah''; fa, اسماعیلیان, ''E ...

Fatimid
,
Ayyubid The Ayyubid dynasty ( ar, الأيوبيون '; Kurdish languages, Kurdish: ئەیووبیەکان Eyûbiyan) was a Sunni Muslim dynasty of Kurds, Kurdish origin, founded by Saladin and centered in Egypt in the Middle Ages, Egypt, ruling over t ...

Ayyubid
, and early
Mamluk Mamluk ( ar, مملوك, mamlūk (singular), , ''mamālīk'' (plural), translated as "one who is owned", meaning "", also as ''Mameluke'', ''mamluq'', ''mamluke'', ''mameluk'', ''mameluke'', ''mamaluke'', or ''marmeluke'') is a term most commo ...
periods). A near complete pack of
Mamluk Mamluk ( ar, مملوك, mamlūk (singular), , ''mamālīk'' (plural), translated as "one who is owned", meaning "", also as ''Mameluke'', ''mamluq'', ''mamluke'', ''mameluk'', ''mameluke'', ''mamaluke'', or ''marmeluke'') is a term most commo ...
playing cards dating to the 15th century and of similar appearance to the fragments above was discovered by Leo Aryeh Mayer in the
Topkapı Palace The Topkapı Palace ( tr, Topkapı Sarayı; ota, طوپقپو سرايى, Ṭopḳapu Sarāyı, lit=Cannon Gate Palace), or the Seraglio , Istanbul ) , postal_code_type = Postal code , postal_code = 34 ...

Topkapı Palace
,
Istanbul ) , postal_code_type = Postal code A postal code (also known locally in various English-speaking countries throughout the world as a postcode, post code, PIN or ZIP Code) is a series of letters or digits or both, sometimes ...

Istanbul
, in 1939. It is not a complete set and is actually composed of three different packs, probably to replace missing cards. The Topkapı pack originally contained 52 cards comprising four suits: polo-sticks, coins, swords, and cups. Each suit contained ten pip cards and three court cards, called ''malik'' (king), ''nā'ib malik'' (viceroy or deputy king), and ''thānī nā'ib'' (second or under-deputy). The ''thānī nā'ib'' is a non-existent title so it may not have been in the earliest versions; without this rank, the Mamluk suits would structurally be the same as a Ganjifa suit. In fact, the word "Kanjifah" appears in Arabic on the king of swords and is still used in parts of the Middle East to describe modern playing cards. Influence from further east can explain why the Mamluks, most of whom were Central Asian Turkic
Kipchaks The Kipchaks, also known as Kipchak Turks, Qipchaq or Polovtsians, were a Turkic people, Turkic nomadic people and confederation that existed in the Middle Ages, inhabiting parts of the Eurasian Steppe. First mentioned in the 8th century as par ...
, called their cups '' tuman'', which means "myriad" (10,000) in the Turkic, Mongolian and
JurchenJurchen may refer to: * Jurchen people, Tungusic people who inhabited the region of Manchuria until the 17th century ** Haixi Jurchens, a grouping of the Jurchens as identified by the Chinese of the Ming Dynasty ** Jianzhou Jurchens, a grouping of t ...
languages. Wilkinson postulated that the cups may have been derived from inverting the Chinese and Jurchen ideogram for "myriad", , which was pronounced as something like ''man'' in
Middle Chinese Middle Chinese (formerly known as Ancient Chinese) or the Qieyun system (QYS) is the historical variety of Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country ...
. The Mamluk court cards showed abstract designs or calligraphy not depicting persons possibly due to religious proscription in Sunni Islam, though they did bear the ranks on the cards. ''Nā'ib'' would be borrowed into French (''nahipi''), Italian (''naibi''), and Spanish (''naipes''), the latter word still in common usage. Panels on the pip cards in two suits show they had a reverse ranking, a feature found in madiao, ''ganjifa'', and old European card games like
ombre Ombre (, pronounced "omber") or l'Hombre is a fast-moving seventeenth-century trick-taking card game A trick-taking game is a card or tile-based game A tile-based game is a game that uses tiles as one of the fundamental elements of play. T ...

ombre
,
tarot The tarot (, first known as '' trionfi'' and later as ''tarocchi'' or ''tarock'') is a pack of playing card A playing card is a piece of specially prepared , heavy paper, thin cardboard, , cotton-paper blend, or thin plastic that is marke ...
, and maw. A fragment of two uncut sheets of
Moorish '' of Alfonso X, c. 1285 The term Moor is an Endonym and exonym, exonym first used by Christian Europeans to designate the Muslims, Muslim inhabitants of the Maghreb, the Iberian Peninsula, Sicily and Malta during the Middle Ages. The Moors in ...

Moorish
-styled cards of a similar but plainer style was found in Spain and dated to the early 15th century. Export of these cards (from Cairo, Alexandria, and Damascus), ceased after the fall of the Mamluks in the 16th century. The rules to play these games are lost but they are believed to be plain trick games without
trump Trump most commonly refers to: * Trump (card games), any playing card given a high ad-hoc rank *Donald Trump Donald John Trump (born June 14, 1946) is an American media personality and businessman who served as the 45th president of t ...
s.


Spread across Europe and early design changes

The earliest record of playing cards in Europe is believed by some researchers to be a ban on card games in the city of
Bern ,german: Berner(in),french: Bernois(e), it, Bernese , neighboring_municipalities = Bremgarten bei Bern Bremgarten bei Bern is a municipality A municipality is usually a single administrative division having Municipal corporation, corpor ...

Bern
in 1367, although this source is questionable. Generally accepted as the first is a
Florentine Florentine most commonly refers to: * a person or thing from Florence, a city in Italy * the Florentine dialect Florentine may also refer to: Places * Florentin, Tel Aviv, a neighborhood in the southern part of Tel Aviv, Israel * Leone, Floren ...

Florentine
ban dating to 1377. Also appearing in 1377 was the treatise by
John of RheinfeldenJohn of Rheinfelden (german: Johannes von Rheinfelden), also Johannes Teuto and John of Basle (born c. 1340), was a Dominican friar and writer who published the oldest known description in Europe of playing cards. Life and works Brother John was ...
, in which he describes playing cards and their moral meaning. From this year onwards more and more records (usually bans) of playing cards occur, first appearing in England as early as 1413. Among the early patterns of playing card were those probably derived from the Mamluk suits of cups, coins, swords, and polo-sticks, which are still used in traditional Latin decks. As
polo Polo is a horseback ball game, a traditional field sports, field sport and one of the world's oldest known team sports. The game is played by two opposing teams with the objective of score (game), scoring using a long-handled wooden mallet to ...

polo
was an obscure sport to Europeans then, the polo-sticks became batons or cudgels. Their presence is attested in
Catalonia Catalonia (; ca, Catalunya ; Aranese, Aranese Occitan: ''Catalonha'' ; es, Cataluña ) is an Autonomous communities of Spain, autonomous community in the northeastern corner of Spain, designated as a ''nationalities and regions of Spain, na ...

Catalonia
in 1371, 1377 in
Switzerland , french: Suisse(sse), it, svizzero/svizzera or , rm, Svizzer/Svizra , government_type = Federalism, Federal semi-direct democracy under an assembly-independent Directorial system, directorial republic , leader_title1 = Fe ...

Switzerland
, and 1380 in many locations including
Florence Florence ( ; it, Firenze ) is a city in Central-Northern Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of Italian Peninsula, a peninsula delimited by the Al ...

Florence
and
Paris Paris () is the Capital city, capital and List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, most populous city of France, with an estimated population of 2,175,601 residents , in an area of more than . Since the 17th century, Paris ha ...

Paris
. Wide use of playing cards in Europe can, with some certainty, be traced from 1377 onward. In the account books of Johanna, Duchess of Brabant and
Wenceslaus I, Duke of Luxembourg Wenceslaus I (also ''Wenceslas'', ''Venceslas'', ''Wenzel'', or ''Václav'', often called Wenceslaus of Bohemia in chronicles) (25 February 1337 – 7 December 1383) was the first Duke of Luxembourg from 1354. He was the son of John the Blind, ...
, an entry dated May 14, 1379, by receiver general of Brabant Renier Hollander reads: "Given to Monsieur and Madame four peters and two florins, worth eight and a half sheep, for the purchase of packs of cards". In his book of accounts for 1392 or 1393, Charles or Charbot Poupart, treasurer of the household of
Charles VI of France Charles VI (3 December 136821 October 1422), called the Beloved (french: le Bien-Aimé) and later the Mad (french: le Fol or ''le Fou''), was King of France from 1380 until his death in 1422. He is known for his mental illness and psychotic epis ...

Charles VI of France
, records payment for the painting of three sets of cards. From about 1418 to 1450 professional card makers in
Ulm Ulm () is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition. London: Routledge. It c ...
,
Nuremberg Nuremberg ( ; german: link=no, Nürnberg ; in the local East Franconian dialect: ''Nämberch'' ) is the second-largest city of the Germany, German States of Germany, state of Bavaria after its capital Munich, and its 518,370 (2019) inhabitants ...

Nuremberg
, and
Augsburg Augsburg ( , , ; bar, Augschburg, links=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swabian_German, label=Swabian German) is a city A city is a large .Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, ...

Augsburg
created printed decks. Playing cards even competed with devotional images as the most common uses for
woodcut Woodcut is a relief printing Image:Principle of Relief Printing.svg, The basic concept of relief printing. ''A'' is the block or matrix; ''B'' is the paper; the thick black lines are the inked areas. (The thickness of the ink is greatly exagg ...
s in this period. Most early woodcuts of all types were coloured after printing, either by hand or, from about 1450 onwards,
stencil Stencilling produces an image or pattern by applying pigment to a surface under an intermediate object with designed gaps in it which create the pattern or image by only allowing the pigment to reach some parts of the surface. The stencil is b ...

stencil
s. These 15th-century playing cards were probably painted. The Flemish Hunting Deck, held by the
Metropolitan Museum of Art The Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York City, colloquially "the Met", is the largest art museum in the Western Hemisphere. Its permanent collection contains over two million works, divided among 17 curatorial departments. The main building ...

Metropolitan Museum of Art
, is the oldest complete set of ordinary playing cards made in Europe from the 15th century. As cards spread from Italy to Germanic countries, the Latin suits were replaced with the suits of leaves (or shields), hearts (or roses), bells, and acorns, and a combination of Latin and Germanic suit pictures and names resulted in the French suits of (clovers), (tiles), (hearts), and (pikes) around 1480. The ''trèfle'' (clover) was probably derived from the acorn and the (pike) from the leaf of the German suits. The names and ''spade'', however, may have derived from the sword () of the Italian suits. In England, the French suits were eventually used, although the earliest packs circulating may have had Latin suits. This may account for why the English called the clovers "clubs" and the pikes "spades". In the late 14th century, Europeans changed the
Mamluk Mamluk ( ar, مملوك, mamlūk (singular), , ''mamālīk'' (plural), translated as "one who is owned", meaning "", also as ''Mameluke'', ''mamluq'', ''mamluke'', ''mameluk'', ''mameluke'', ''mamaluke'', or ''marmeluke'') is a term most commo ...

Mamluk
court cards to represent European royalty and attendants. In a description from 1377, the earliest courts were originally a seated "
king King is the title given to a male monarch in a variety of contexts. The female equivalent is queen regnant, queen, which title is also given to the queen consort, consort of a king. *In the context of prehistory, antiquity and contempora ...
", an upper
marshal Marshal is a term used in several official titles in various branches of society A society is a group A group is a number A number is a mathematical object used to counting, count, measurement, measure, and nominal number, label. T ...

marshal
that held his suit symbol up, and a lower marshal that held it down. The latter two correspond with the ''ober'' and ''unter'' cards found in
German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language The German la ...
and
Swiss playing cards Parts of Swiss German Swiss German (Standard German Standard High German (SHG), less precisely Standard German or High German (not to be confused with High German The High German languages or High German dialects (german: hochdeutsche ...
. The Italians and Iberians replaced the / system with the "
Knight A knight is a person granted an honorary title A title is one or more words used before or after a person's name, in certain contexts. It may signify either generation, an official position, or a professional or academic qualification. In so ...
" and "" or "" before 1390, perhaps to make the cards more visually distinguishable. In England, the lowest court card was called the "
knave Knave may refer to: *A rogue (vagrant), a rascal, deceitful fellow, a dishonest man *Another name for Jack (playing card), Jack, in card games *Knave (magazine), ''Knave'' (magazine), a British adult magazine *The Knave, a Welsh hillfort also know ...
" which originally meant ''male child'' (compare German ), so in this context the character could represent the "prince", son to the king and queen; the meaning ''servant'' developed later. Queen (playing card), Queens appeared sporadically in packs as early as 1377, especially in Germany. Although the Germans abandoned the queen before the 1500s, the French permanently picked it up and placed it under the king. Packs of 56 cards containing in each suit a king, queen, knight, and knave (as in tarot) were once common in the 15th century. In 1628, the Mistery of Makers of Playing Cards of the City of London (now the Worshipful Company of Makers of Playing Cards) was incorporated under a royal charter by Charles I of England, Charles I; the Company received Livery company, livery status from the Court of Aldermen of the City of London in 1792. The Company still exists today, having expanded its member ranks to include "card makers... card collectors, dealers, bridge players, [and] magicians". During the mid 16th century, Portuguese traders introduced playing cards to Japan. The first indigenous Japanese deck was the named after the Tenshō (Momoyama period), period.


Later design changes

Packs with corner and edge indices (i.e. the value of the card printed at the corner(s) of the card) enabled players to hold their cards close together in a fan with one hand (instead of the two hands previously used). The first such pack known with Latin suits was printed by Infirerra and dated 1693, but this feature was commonly used only from the end of the 18th century. The first American-manufactured (French) deck with this innovation was the Saladee's Patent, printed by Samuel Hart in 1864. In 1870, he and his cousins at Lawrence & Cohen followed up with the Squeezers, the first cards with indices that had a large diffusion. This was followed by the innovation of reversible court cards. This invention is attributed to a French card maker of Agen in 1745. But the French government, which controlled the design of playing cards, prohibited the printing of cards with this innovation. In central Europe (Trappola cards) and Italy (Tarocco Bolognese) the innovation was adopted during the second half of the 18th century. In Great Britain, the pack with reversible court cards was patented in 1799 by Edmund Ludlow and Ann Wilcox. The French pack with this design was printed around 1802 by Thomas Wheeler (printer), Thomas Wheeler. Sharp corners wear out more quickly, and could possibly reveal the card's value, so they were replaced with rounded corners. Before the mid-19th century, British, American, and French players preferred blank backs. The need to hide wear and tear and to discourage writing on the back led cards to have designs, pictures, photos, or advertising on the reverse. The United States introduced the joker (playing card), joker into the deck. It was devised for the game of euchre, which spread from Europe to America beginning shortly after the American Revolutionary War. In euchre, the highest trump card is the Jack of the trump suit, called the ''right bower'' (from the German '':de:Bube (Spielkarte), Bauer''); the second-highest trump, the ''left bower'', is the jack of the suit of the same color as trumps. The joker was invented c. 1860 as a third trump, the ''imperial'' or ''best bower'', which ranked higher than the other two ''bowers''. The name of the card is believed to derive from ''juker'', a variant name for euchre.US Playing Card Co. – A Brief History of Playing Cards
(archive.org mirror)
Beal, George (1975). ''Playing cards and their story.'' New York: Arco Publishing Comoany Inc. p. 58 The earliest reference to a joker functioning as a Wild card (card games), wild card dates to 1875 with a variation of poker.


Research

Columbia University's Rare Book and Manuscript Library holds the Albert Field (archivist), Albert Field Collection of Playing Cards, an archive of over 6,000 individual decks from over 50 countries and dating back to the 1550s. In 2018 the university digitized over 100 of its decks. Since 2017, Vanderbilt University has been home to the 1,000-volume George Clulow and United States Playing Card Co. Gaming Collection, which has been called one of the "most complete and scholarly collections [of books on cards and gaming] that has ever been gathered together".


Modern deck formats

Contemporary playing cards are grouped into three broad categories based on the suits they use: French, Latin, and Germanic. Latin suits are used in the closely related Spanish and Italian formats. The Swiss-German suits are distinct enough to merit their subcategory. Excluding jokers and tarot trumps, the French 52-card deck preserves the number of cards in the original Mamluk deck, while Latin and Germanic decks average fewer. Latin decks usually drop the higher-valued pip cards, while Germanic decks drop the lower-valued ones. Within suits, there are regional or national variations called "standard patterns." Because these patterns are in the public domain, this allows multiple card manufacturers to recreate them. Pattern differences are most easily found in the face cards but the number of cards per deck, the use of numeric indices, or even minor shape and arrangement differences of the pips can be used to distinguish them. Some patterns have been around for hundreds of years. Jokers are not part of any pattern as they are a relatively recent invention and lack any standardized appearance so each publisher usually puts its own trademarked illustration into their decks. The wide variation of jokers has turned them into collectible items. Any card that bore the stamp duty like the ace of spades in England, the ace of clubs in France or the ace of coins in Italy are also collectible as that is where the manufacturer's logo is usually placed. Typically, playing cards have indices printed in the upper-left and lower-right corners. While this design doesn't restrict which hand players hold their cards, some Bias against left-handed people, left-handed players may prefer to fan their cards in the opposite direction. Some designs exist with indices in all four corners.


French-suited decks

French decks come in a variety of patterns and deck sizes. The Standard 52-card deck, 52-card deck is the most popular deck and includes 13 ranks of each suit with reversible "court" or face cards. Each suit includes an Ace (playing card), ace, depicting a single symbol of its suit, a king, queen, and jack, each depicted with a symbol of their suit; and ranks two through ten, with each card depicting that number of pips of its suit. As well as these 52 cards, commercial packs often include between one and six jokers, most often two. Decks with fewer than 52 cards are known as stripped decks. The piquet pack has all values from 2 through 6 in each suit removed for a total of 32 cards. It is popular in France, the Low Countries, Central Europe and Russia and is used to play piquet, belote, bezique and Skat (card game), skat. It is also used in the Sri Lankan, whist-based game known as ''omi''. Forty-card French suited packs are common in northwest Italy; these remove the 8s through 10s like Latin suited decks. 24 card decks, removing 2s through 8s are also sold in Austria and Bavaria to play schnapsen. A pinochle deck consists of two copies of a 24 card schnapsen deck, thus 48 cards. The 78 card Tarot Nouveau, tarot nouveau adds the knight card between queens and jacks along with 21 numbered trumps and the unnumbered The Fool (Tarot card), Fool.


Manufacturing

Today the process of making playing cards is highly automated. Large sheets of paper are glued together to create a sheet of pasteboard; the glue may be black or dyed another dark color to increase the card stock's Opacity (optics), opacity. In the industry, this black compound is sometimes known as "gick". Some card manufacturers may purchase pasteboard from various suppliers; large companies such as USPCC create their own proprietary pasteboard. After the desired imagery is etched into printing plates, the art is printed onto each side of the pasteboard sheet, which is coated with a textured or smooth finish, sometimes called a varnish or paint coating. These coatings can be water- or solvent-based, and different textures and visual effects can be achieved by adding certain dyes or foils, or using multiple varnish processes. The pasteboard is then split into individual uncut sheets, which are cut into single cards and sorted into decks. The corners are then rounded, after which the decks are packaged, commonly in tuck box, tuck boxes wrapped in cellophane. The tuck box may have a Seal (emblem), seal applied. Card manufacturers must pay special attention to the Printing registration, registration of the cards, as non-symmetrical cards can be used to cheat.


Non-standard design and use


Casinos

Gambling corporations commonly have playing cards made specifically for their casinos. As casinos go through large numbers of decks each day, they may sometimes resell used cards that were "on the [casino] floor". The cards sold to the public are altered, either by cutting the deck's corners or by punching a hole in the deck, to prevent these cards from being used in the casino to cheat.


Collecting

Because of the long history and wide variety in designs, playing cards are also collector's items. According to ''Guinness World Records'', the largest playing card collection comprises 11,087 decks and is owned by Liu Fuchang of China. Individual playing cards are also collected, such as the world record collection of 8,520 different Jokers belonging to Tony De Santis of Italy.


Custom designs and artwork

Custom decks may be produced for myriad purposes. Across the world, both individuals and large companies such as United States Playing Card Company (USPCC) design and release many different styles of decks, including commemorative decks and souvenir decks. Bold and colorful designs tend to be used for
cardistry Cardistry is the performance art Performance art is an artwork or art exhibition created through actions executed by the artist or other participants. It may be live, through documentation, spontaneously or written, presented to a public in a ...
decks, while more generally, playing cards (as well as tarot cards) may focus on artistic value. Custom deck production is commonly funded on platforms such as Kickstarter, with companies offering card printing services to the public. In 1976, the JPL Gallery in London commissioned a card deck from a variety of contemporary British artists including Maggie Hambling, Patrick Heron, David Hockney, Howard Hodgkin, John Hoyland, and Allen Jones (sculptor), Allen Jones called "The Deck of Cards". Forty years later in 2016, the British Council commissioned a similar deck called "Taash ke Patte" featuring India, Indian artists such as Bhuri Bai, Shilpa Gupta, Krishen Khanna, Ram Rahman, Gulam Mohammed Sheikh, Arpita Singh, and Thukral & Tagra.


Cold case cards

Police departments, local governments, state prison systems, and even private organizations across the United States have created decks of cards that feature photos, names, and details of cold case victims or missing persons on each card. These decks are sold in Prison commissary, prison commissaries, or even to the public, in the hopes that an inmate (or anyone else) might provide a new lead. Cold case card programs have been introduced in over a dozen states, including by Oklahoma's Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, State Bureau of Investigation, Connecticut's Connecticut Division of Criminal Justice, Division of Criminal Justice, Delaware's Delaware Department of Correction, Department of Correction, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and Rhode Island's Rhode Island Department of Corrections, Department of Corrections, among others. Among inmates, they may be called "snitch cards".


Symbols in Unicode

The Unicode standard for text encoding on computers defines 8 characters for card suits in the Miscellaneous Symbols block, at . Unicode 7.0 added a unified pack for French-suited tarot nouveau's trump cards and the 52 cards of the modern French pack, with 4 knights, together with a character for "Playing Card Back" and black, red, and white jokers in the block . The Unicode names for each group of four glyphs are 'black' and 'white' but might have been more accurately described as 'solid' and 'outline' since the colour actually used at display or printing time is an application choice.


See also

;Types of decks: * Standard 52-card deck * Stripped deck * Tarot * Transformation playing card * Trick deck ;Uses: * Card game * Cartomancy * Card manipulation * Card money * Card throwing * House of cards * Sleight of hand ;Geographic origin: * Chinese playing cards * French playing cards * Ganjifa * German playing cards * Hanafuda * Italian playing cards * Karuta * Spanish playing cards *
Swiss playing cards Parts of Swiss German Swiss German (Standard German Standard High German (SHG), less precisely Standard German or High German (not to be confused with High German The High German languages or High German dialects (german: hochdeutsche ...
* Tujeon ;Terminology: * Glossary of card game terms * List of playing card nicknames ;Specific decks: * Archaeology awareness playing cards * Most-wanted Iraqi playing cards * Politicards * Trading card * Zener cards (parapsychology) ;Sources for further information: * Cary Collection of Playing Cards * International Playing-Card Society * Musée Français de la Carte à Jouer * Museum of Fournier de Naipes * :Playing card manufacturers, Playing card manufacturers * :Playing card organisations, Playing card organisations


Footnotes


Further reading

*Maltese playing cards. * Griffiths, Antony. ''Prints and Printmaking'' British Museum Press (in UK),2nd edn, 1996 * Hind, Arthur M. ''An Introduction to a History of Woodcut''. Houghton Mifflin Co. 1935 (in USA), reprinted Dover Publications, 1963 * Roman du Roy Meliadus de Leonnoys (British Library, Add MS 12228, fol. 313v), c. 1352 *


References


Citations


Cited sources

* Depaulis, Thierry (2013). "Cards and Cards: Early References to Playing Cards in England" in ''The Playing-Card'', Vol. 41, No. 3, Jan-Mar 2013, ISSN 1752-671X. * * *


External links

{{DEFAULTSORT:Playing Card Chinese inventions History of card decks Paper products Playing cards, Tang dynasty Tarot