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The suit signs in the first European decks of the 14th century were swords, clubs, cups, and coins, and very likely had their origin in Italy, although some connect these with the cups, coins, swords, and polo-sticks found on Egyptian playing cards from the Mamluk period.
At any rate these are still the four suits still found in Italian and Spanish playing cards today, and are sometimes referred to as the Latin suits.
The court cards from the late 14th century decks in Italy typically included a mounted king, a seated and crowned queen, plus a knave.
The knave is a royal servant, although the character could also represent a "prince", and would later be called a Jack to avoid confusion with the King.
Spanish cards developed somewhat differently, the court cards being a king, knight, and knave, with no queens. The Spanish packs also didn't have a 10, and with the absence of 8s and 9s in the national Spanish game of ombre , it resulted in a 40 card deck.
The first playing cards in European Italy were hand-painted and beautiful luxury items found only among the upper classes.
But as card playing became more popular, and methods were developed to produce them more cheaply, playing cards became more widely available.
It was only natural that this new product eventually spread west and north, and the next major development occurred as a result of their reception in Germany, and one historian has described their rapid spread as "an invasion of playing cards", with soldiers also assisting their movement.
To establish themselves as a card-manufacturing nation in their own right, the Germans introduced their own suits to replace the Italian ones, and these new suits reflected their interest in rural life: acorns, leaves, hearts, and bells; the latter being hawk-bells and a reference to the popular rural pursuit of falconry.
The queen was also eliminated from the Italian courts, and these instead consisted of a King and two knaves, an obermann upper and untermann under.
Meanwhile the Two replaced the Ace as the highest card, to create a 48 card deck. Custom decks abounded, and suit symbols used in the novelty playing cards from this era include animals, kitchen utensils, and appliances, from frying pans to printers' inkpads!
The standard German suits of acorns, leaves, hearts, and bells were predominant, however, although in nearby Switzerland it was common to see a variation using flowers instead of leaves, and shields instead of hearts.
The Germanic suits are still used in parts of Europe today, and are indebted to this period of history. But the real contribution of Germany was their methods of printing playing cards.
Using techniques of wood-cutting and engraving in wood and copper that were developed as a result of the demand for holy pictures and icons, printers were able to produce playing cards in larger quantities.
This led to Germany gaining a dominant role in the playing card trade, even exporting decks to Western Europe, which had produced them in the first place!
Eventually the new suit symbols adopted by Germany became even more common throughout Europe than the original Italian ones.
Meanwhile early in the 15th century, the French developed the icons for the four suits that we commonly use today, namely hearts, spades, diamonds, and clubs, although they were called coeurs, piques, carreaux, and trefles respectively.
It is possible that the clubs trefles derive from the acorns and the spades pikes from the leaves of the German playing cards, but they may also have been developed independently.
The French also preferred a king, queen, and knave as their court cards. But the real stroke of genius that the French came up with was to divide the four suits into two red and two black, with simplified and clearer symbols.
This meant that playing cards could be produced with stencils, a hundred times more quickly than using the traditional techniques of wood-cutting and engraving.
With improved processes in manufacturing paper, and the development of better printing processes, including Gutenberg's printing press , the slower and more costly traditional woodcut techniques previously done by hand were replaced with a much more efficient production.
For sheer practical reasons, the Germans lost their earlier dominance in the playing card market, as the French decks and their suits spread all over Europe, giving us the designs as we know them today.
One interesting feature of the French dominance of playing cards in this time is the attention given to court cards. In the late s French manufacturers began giving the court cards names from famous literary epics such as the Bible and other classics.
It is from this era that the custom developed of associating specific court cards with famous names, the more well-known and commonly accepted ones for the Kings being King David Spades , Alexander the Great Clubs , Charlemagne Hearts , and Julius Caesar Diamonds , representing the four empires of Jews, Greeks, Franks, and Romans.
Notable characters ascribed to the Queens include the Greek goddess Pallas Athena Spades , Judith Hearts , Jacob's wife Rachel Diamonds , and Argine Clubs.
The common postures, clothing, and accessories that we expect in a modern deck of playing cards today find their roots in characters like these, but we cannot be certain how these details originated, since there was much diversity of clothing, weapons, and accessories depicted in the French decks of this time.
But eventually standardization began to happen, and this was accelerated in the s when taxing on playing cards was introduced.
With France divided into nine regions for this purpose, manufacturers within each region were ordered to use a standardized design unique to their region.
The song was also a UK No. The newly published edition of UK hit singles dating between and shows the song reaching number 2 for Phil Harris in January A Dutch translation, "Het spel kaarten", recited by Cowboy Gerard real name Gerard de Vries , was a hit in the Netherlands in Magician Justin Flom created a magic effect, also based on the song, titled "Soldier's Deck of Cards" which was seen by over 5 million people online.
In there was a version in German by Bruce Low. A Finnish translation, "Korttipakka", by Tapio Rautavaara was published in From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
For the set of items used for playing card games, see Deck of cards. Taylor, B. The joker is counted as the th spot. Retrieved 13 February Helsinki: Warner Music Finland, So when I want to talk to God and thank Him, I just pull out this old deck of cards and they remind me of all that I have to be thankful for.
In that musical offering, the story is set during World War II and stars a soldier whose outfit, which has been fighting in North Africa, is newly arrived at Casino.
One Sunday morning, some of the soldiers in that unit go to church; those who have prayer books read them during the service, but one soldier pulls out a deck of cards, prompting his sergeant to haul this apparent blasphemer before the provost marshal.
Once those scene-setting details are out of the way, the two versions dovetail, with the meanings of each of the cards agreeing from one version to the other.
Differences between the two versions aside, is it an account of an actual event? However, tellers of tales do sometimes add flourishes of such nature to their offerings, especially those of an inspirational or tear-jerking nature.
French versions of the tale were printed in and Some of the meanings assigned to the pasteboards have changed too: the queen symbolized the Queen of Sheba instead of Mary, and the jack was a knave.
The older versions also mention the deck being divided into thirteen ranks, one for each lunar month, a detail dropped from more contemporary versions in recognition of modern society having moved away from the lunar calendar.
Some point out that if you count up all the spots on the cards, you come up with only , not the claimed.
The version contained an explanation for that, which has also been dropped from newer accounts:. When I count how many spots there are in a pack of cards, I find there are three hundred and sixty-five, there are so many days in the year.
Stop, said the mayor that is a mistake. I grant it, said the soldier, but as I have never yet seen an Almanack that was teoroughly [sic] correct in all points it would have been impossible for me to have imitated an Almanack exactly without a mistake.
Your observations are very correct said the mayor. Go on. Other catechism-type songs have been around for centuries.
What are they that are but one? The story concerns a helpful bellhop who fetches drinks, women and four guys named Jack from the Club.
The element that magicians have added is that, as each card in the story is called, it is produced magically from a deck that is continually being cut and shuffled.
And it makes me wonder what the trick will look like — and what stories will be told — a hundred years from now. Pingback: There Are 52 Playing Cards In A Deck To Represent The 52 Weeks… JustaFact.
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