A History Of Playing Cards

Contrary to popular opinion, playing cards did not germinate from the soil and then make its way to drawing rooms and casinos all over the globe! Instead, here’s a short history of them.

In 868

Su E, a Chinese writer mentions a princess by the name of Tong Cheng who played a “leaf game” along with the family of her husband, the Wei clan. This is the first official mention of playing cards anywhere in world history.

In 1005

Ouyang Xiu, a Chinese writer links the increasing popularity of playing cards to the making of paper sheets, rather than the traditional scrolls that were earlier used.

A History Of Playing Cards

During 1300s

Playing cards arrive in Europe. This is known due to the fact that an official ordinance in 1367 announced their ban in Switzerland, precisely in Bern.

In 1377

Playing cards are mentioned in a Paris ordinance. This infers that they were widely popular to the extent that rules had to be made to control players.

During 1400s

the iconic suits began making an appearance on playing cards of the period. This includes bells, leaves, hearts, swords, acorns, coins, cups and batons.

In 1418

Some professional card makers in both Augsburg and Ulm, Nuremberg begin using woodcuts to craft decks of cards in large quantities.

Between 1430-50

A mysterious individual known as the Master of Playing Cards appears in Germany. Cards made by this person were by far artistically superior to any other than in production.

In 1480

Decks of cards making use of icons like spades, clubs, diamonds and hearts are first made in France.

The late 1400s

During this time, European court cards are changed from featuring images of the current royalty to picturing either classic or historical figures.

During 1500s

By this time, Rouen, France supplied most of the playing cards used in England. Meanwhile, a Parisian card design is all the rage in France.

During 1790s

Previously, the King was the card of the highest worth in a suit. This changed after the French Revolution.

In 1867

A company that specialized in the printing of labels, circus and theatrical posters, as well as playing cards is formed in Cincinnati, Ohio. Its name, the Russel, Morgan & Co.

During 1870s

The Joker is featured on playing cards for the first time.

In 1885

The Russell, Morgan & Co make release their debut Bicycle Brand cards.

In 1894

The Russell, Morgan & Co go on an expansion spree, acquiring such companies as the Perfection Card Company, New York Consolidated Card Company, and Standard Playing Card Company. It is then re-made into the United States Playing Card Company.

In 1939

Cards crafted in Mamluk, Egypt during the 12th or 13th century are discovered in Istanbul by Leo Mayer.

In 1942

During World War 2, the United States Playing Card Company starts the production of Bicycle Spotter cards that were useful for identifying enemy equipment. Special decks of cards were also made for POWs that when moistened and pulled apart formed maps.

In 1966

A couple of lieutenants dispatch a letter to the United States Playing Card Company requesting the production of decks that contained just Ace of Spades. These were used for frightening the Viet Cong during the Vietnam war, as they were very superstitious and believed that such cards foretold death.

In 2013

Club 808 was established by the United States Playing Card Company. The club gathers fans of Bicycle playing cards from all over the world and has them interact with each other, read all manner of interesting articles, interview famous card players and more.

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Author: Richard

Posted On: 20/11/2018

A History Of Playing Cards
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