- Playing cards came to Europe from the East sometime in the Middle Ages. We know they were used in Italy in 1279. Long before then they were common in China and India.
- Hundreds of distinct games can be played with playing cards.
- Playing cards come in decks of 52 suit cards and, as a rule, one or two jokers.
- Playing cards are typically palm-sized for convenient handling.
- Decks of cards have not always looked like those we have now. Some cards were square. Some were much narrower than ours. Some were even round.
- Early German cards had acorns, bells, hearts, and leaves.
- Spanish cards were marked with swords, batons, cups, and money.
- The idea of marking playing cards with clubs, diamonds, hearts, and spades came from France.
- For most games, the cards are assembled into a deck, and their order is randomized by shuffling.
- Each suit has not always had a king, a queen, and a jack. Suits once had knights instead of queens. Some decks had extra cards which were used to foretell the future.
- A French king once paid $500 for three decks of playing cards.
- Cards are now cheap enough so that almost everyone can have them.
- Because playing cards are commonly available, they are often adapted for other uses, such as cartomancy, magic tricks, or building a house of cards.
- The 78-card Tarot deck, and subsets of it, are used for a variety of European trick-taking games. The Tarot is distinguished from most other decks by the use of a separate trump suit of 21 cards, and one Fool, whose role varies according to the specific game. Additionally, it differs from the 52-card deck in the use of one additional court card in each suit, the Cavalier or Knight.
Playing card facts
Labels: general facts