House of Cards®


The Evolution of Playing Cards

Playing cards are a global phenomenon: they can be used for many games – both multi-player and solitary – and are a great way to boost creativity. The standard 52-card deck most of us are familiar with has taken pride of place in many family households: it’s guaranteed to provide thrilling gameplay, with much joy and laughter to be shared.

But have you ever wondered about the origins of the modern-day cards we all know and love? Let’s take a look at the history of playing cards, their geographical origins and influences, and their popularity at online casinos.

Playing cards and dice on a green felt table.

Early playing cards and their uses

The exact origin of playing cards is still up for debate among historians. At this point, many still rely on speculation rather than hard evidence. Many historians agree that playing cards have their roots somewhere in the East. Some speculate that the Chinese game called yezi (game of leaves) – which dates back to 800AD – could have been played with an early type of playing card. One thing that’s for sure: playing cards began to emerge in Europe during the late 1300s and early 1400s. Gypsies, crusaders, or traders may have been responsible for importing playing cards to Europe. Symbols were used to characterize Chinese cards and, as they made their way to Europe, they transformed into suits, which represented social class in France, Spain, and Italy.

France was the first European country to lay claim to modern-day playing cards. It’s worth noting that Venice is an important trading center connecting with the East, so it’s possible that cards originated there and made their way through the rest of the continent.

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The Cloisters Deck is the first known deck that resembles the playing cards that we use today. An example of it is exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The Cloisters Deck dates all the way back to the late 1400s and is believed to have originated somewhere in the Netherlands. The evolution of the design of playing cards is worth mentioning. As they made their way around the world, there wasn’t a fast and efficient way to produce cards – usually made from stiff paper – in bulk. Of course, the upper classes in various societies would receive much nicer cards. That all changed with the printing press’s introduction, which meant that more people would have access to decent playing cards. And the rest is history.


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