Where Do Playing Card Suits Come From?

Our casino playing cards haven’t always been Hearts, Spades, Diamonds and Clubs. So, Where Do Playing Card Suits Come From?

Let’s take a look.

When Did We Start Using Playing Cards?

As early as 900 A.D, Chinese used painted leafs and are the roots of todays playing cards. These leafs later evolved into tiles for Mahjong. However, the Chinese used actual playing cards in the 1200’s.

Where Do Playing Card Suits Come From
Mahjong Tiles

It is believed that the Chinese were the first to use suited cards, which represented money. Their suits were coins, strings of coins, myriads of strings, and tens of myriads.

Toby Bochan, Liveaboutdotcom

A number of modifications by European cultures brought us to the cards and suits we use today.

Different Countries, Different Symbolism

Latin Suits symbolized cups, coins, clubs and swords. The English retained the Italian word for sword – spade. In the 15th century, the Germans used hearts, bells, acorns, and leaves.

Where Do Playing Card Suits Come From
Old German Playing cards

Where Do Playing Card Suits Come From? England Adds the Final Touch

The French standardized the four suits in a 52 card deck. However, it was the English that decided upon hearts, clubs, diamonds and spades. The French had used – coeurs (hearts), piques (pikes or spades), carreaux (diamond-shaped tiles), and trefles (clovers). Charles Goodall and Sons in the 19th century England, gave us the common designs seen today.

5 Quick Facts – Where Do Playing Card Suits Come From?

Assigning identities to the face cards is a myth. During the 15th century, the French assigned face cards the names of Kings, Queens and Jacks that represented the four great empires of Jews, Greeks, Franks, and Romans. Evidently, after the 16th century, other countries abandoned this practice.

What are “pips?” – Markings in the center area of a numbered playing card that indicate the card’s suit and number value.

The United States is responsible for adding the Jokers. The Joker was influenced by the game of euchre. Popular in the mid-19th century, it refers to the highest trump card.

Casino playing cards are usually 100% plastic cards for two main reasons: 1) they last much longer than paper cards, and 2) they are more difficult to write on, which in turn, makes it hard for players to try and cheat.

An interesting tidbit – there are 52 cards in a standard deck, there are also 52 weeks in a year. If you add up all the symbols in a deck of cards, it equals the same amount of days in a year = 365.

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