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History of The Deck of Playing Cards

I have always loved to play cards. My grandfather taught me various games when I was very young. Poker, crazy eights, snap, rummy 500 and cribbage were all taught to me by the time I was seven years old.

On Saturday nights at my Grandparents home, we would play a game called Rummoli. I really liked it because we played for money and I was pretty good at it. Mind you we only played with pennies, nickel, and dimes. The snacks and treats that my grandmother would put out were memorable as well which included Cheezies and cucumber sandwiches.

Poker is my favorite and I have to say that I am an online FaceBook Zynga poker addict. Not often does a day go by without me playing.

So I thought the history of the deck of cards would make for an interesting topic for this weeks HubMob, Uncommon History of Common Things.

Paul Czanne - The Card Players, 1895

Paul Czanne - The Card Players, 1895

A Chinese playing card found near Turfan, dated c. 1400 AD during the Ming Dynasty. From the Museum fur Volkerkunde, Berlin. Its dimensions are 9.5 cm by 3.5 cm.

A Chinese playing card found near Turfan, dated c. 1400 AD during the Ming Dynasty. From the Museum fur Volkerkunde, Berlin. Its dimensions are 9.5 cm by 3.5 cm.

History of Playing Cards

Cards go way back in time to India and China in the 9th century but they were not as we know them today. The Chinese made their first playing cards from sheets or pages. They were called money cards and had four suits comprising of coins with strings of coins. Mahjong tiles and dominoes evolved from the earliest playing cards.

When playing cards first entered Europe in the 14th century they were similar to tarot cards with swords, staves, coins, and cups.

Card Suits

Different cultures had their own suits and it was the French in the 15th century that designed the suits we use today in most countries, being hearts representing the clergy, diamonds merchants, spade nobility and clubs peasants. German suits were acorns, hearts, hawk bells and leaves.


It was once thought that the four suits represented the four seasons and the 52 cards in a deck were for the 52 weeks in a year. This has been found to be an urban myth. Religious people would say this made them feel that it was okay to play cards without it being a gambling game.

Deck of Cards

Cards of Today “French Deck”

A 52 box of cards is called a deck or a pack of cards. Most decks will contain an additional two cards that are jokers but for most games, these are removed before play begins.

The individual cards are made from thin cardboard or thin plastic. The standard card size or Poker size is 3.5” high and 2.5” wide.

Cards for playing the game of bridge, card size are 3.5” high and 2.25”. The face of the card color will be red for hearts and diamonds and black for clubs and spades. In the deck, you have 4 aces, 4 kings, 4 queens, 4 jacks and four of each number from two to ten. The backs of the cards will have all have the same design per deck.

Each manufacturer will have a different design. There are cards that can be purchased that are of a larger print for the visually impaired as well as braille cards for the blind.

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© 2011 Susan Zutautas


Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on January 22, 2012:

Keven, When I play Holdem Poker I like getting the Ace and King of Clubs.

Kevin Howell from Maysville KY on January 22, 2012:

Interesting hub. I guess if I was a playing card I would be a club. Thanks For Sharing!

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on January 05, 2012:

Stephanie, Thank you so much.

Stephanie Bradberry from New Jersey on January 05, 2012:

This is a cool hub that gives a nice succinct and informative history.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on March 07, 2011:

Dale are you a river rat lol

hillrider from Mid-west United States on March 07, 2011:

Susan, think I'll just check this round and wait to see the "river" ... lol

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on February 27, 2011:

Thanks Genna and Mike glad you like it :)

Mike's Corner from Maryland on February 27, 2011:

Great history, Susan, I love cards and Kenny Rogers!

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on February 25, 2011:

Great read full of useful info! Up and useful.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on February 25, 2011:

Thanks Dovay and Chatkath.

Kathy from California on February 25, 2011:

I always loved cards when I was a kid, I think I wanted to beat the adults, good research & information, I had no idea!

Dovay Lee from China on February 24, 2011:

I always play cards when i am free but I do not know the history of cards. Good hub and I leart much from it. Thanks for the informative hub.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on February 24, 2011:

Pamela thank you.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on February 24, 2011:

Great hub! We played cards when I was growing up all the time so it is interesting to read the history.

Voted/rated up.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on February 23, 2011:

suziecat thanks for stopping by

Docmo Thank you so much but I like your hub on cards much better!

nightbear Cards are a lot of fun. My sons all love to play as well.

Susan Kaul from Michiagn, USA on February 23, 2011:

Interesting history. thanks! I love playing cards. It is a wonderful pastime.

Mohan Kumar from UK on February 23, 2011:

Thank you for letting me post on the same topic. Couldn't believe we've both been working on the same but then why not? This is lovely succint hub on the history of playing cards... voted up!

suziecat7 from Asheville, NC on February 23, 2011:

Interesting Hub - who would have known? Thanks for the great read.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on February 23, 2011:

Thanks cardelean and WillStarr.

WillStarr from Phoenix, Arizona on February 23, 2011:

Educational Hub.

Up and useful.

cardelean from Michigan on February 23, 2011:

Great hub! I never knew how playing cards came about, I learned a lot. I loved the video too, one of my favorite Kenny Rogers songs.

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