Tuesday, August 18, 2009

History of Playing Cards

playing cards
The playing cards of today were made for a reason. And the reason behind this is for recreational purposes. However, technically, card games were derived from the games that were played using the Chinese dominoes or tiles. It was when paper dominoes were shuffled and dealt by the Chinese in new games.

Though the earliest authentic references to playing cards in Europe dated back to 1377, other sources show that the Europeans only imported these 4-suited decks with court cards from the Islamic Empire before 1370. Etymological evidences showed however, that the Arabs introduced the playing cards to the Europeans in the second half of the 14th century.

Playing cards really originated in China as early as the 9th century during the Tang Dynasty (618–907). According to Ouyang Xiu (1007–1072) of the Song Dynasty, in the middle of the Tang Dynasty, card games already existed. In fact, paper rolls which were used back then, was replaced by sheets of pages during the 9th century.

During 1370’s, before the cards were spread out to the northeast, towards the rest of Europe, it was first established in Italy. However, since it became a form of gambling, many laws and ordinances banned the playing of these game cards. There were at least three records between 1367 and 1378, stating that playing cards were banned in Europe.

In the 14th century, with the invention of woodcuts, Europeans began the mass production of playing cards. On the Renaissance period, the idea of pictures being painted on the back of the playing cards came from Tarot cards at that time.

During the 15th century, the invention of the French, German, and Latin suit systems gave way to a new era of playing cards. Each has its own distinct symbols representing their own cultures. It was the French designs which consist of spades, clubs, diamonds, and clubs, that became the standard in England. Then the British colonies in America had a great demand for the new set of playing cards, which was answered by a large quantity of supply from the makers at French.

The new set of playing cards had officially arrived in the United States during the 1800’s. The Yankees had some major contributions on the playing cards such as the invention of the Joker, double-headed court cards (to avoid the nuisance of turning the figure upright), varnished surfaces (for durability and smoothness in shuffling), indexes (the identifying marks placed in the cards’ borders or corners), and rounded corners (which avoid the wear that card players inflict on square corners).

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