Yesterday I sent out a tweet saying that today I would turn the blog over to a guest, and asking for posts.  My thanks to everyone who submitted their entries.

The winning entry came from Andrew J Speirs, with his great Ten Facts About Playing Cards.  I have taken the liberty of editing them a bit, but here we go with ten things you probably didn’t know about playing cards……

1. The Largest Producer of Playing Cards
The United States Playing Card Company (USPC), located in Cincinnati, Ohio, is the world’s largest producer of playing cards. The company was founded in 1867. USPC vends over 100,000,000 decks of playing cards annually.

2. When Were Playing Cards First Used?
The first recorded account of their use was in the Orient, sometime in the 12th century. The Chinese replaced their bone or ivory playing cards (tiles) they used to play the game of Dominos with, with a heavy paper kind of playing cards.

3. Where Did the Four Suits Originate From?
The Middle East. The suits started out as being coins, cups, swords and sticks. These suits evolved into today’s playing card suits with the coins now being diamonds; the cups, which stood for “love”, turning into hearts; the spades replaced the swords, and the sticks are now clubs.

4. How French Court Cards Got Their Faces
The court cards were originally designed to look like, actual historical figures. The King of Hearts was Charlemagne; the King of Diamonds was Julius Caesar; the King of Clubs was Alexander the Great, and the King of Spades was King David from the Holy Bible.

5. Why Does The Ace of Spades Look So Different?
Playing cards was a popular form of entertainment in France. The rulers saw a way to make more money by taxing the Ace of Spades, and only that card in the deck. Aces were given the most open space so they could be stamped showing that the tax had been paid.

6. They’re Not Playing With a Full Deck!
To avoid paying the tax that was tacked onto the Ace of Spades, people wouldn’t buy that card when they bought a deck of playing cards. So, they were playing traditional games that required using 52 cards with only 51. It was said they weren’t “playing with a full deck” or they were foolish for doing so.

7. What Do the Patterns on Card Backs Mean?

Each card manufacturer has their own unique pattern they place on their cards. The normal colors you’ll see these patterns printed in are red and blue.

8. Building A House of Cards
Bryan Berg has turned this pastime into a career. He earned the Guinness World Record for the “world’s tallest card tower” in 1992. Since then, Berg has won even more honors for building higher towers. His highest to date measured 25 feet, 3.5 inches. Bryan Berg used 2,400 decks of playing cards to build this huge tower with.

9. Playing Cards Assisted American Prisoners Escape During the War

Specially-constructed decks were sent to American soldiers who were being held in German
camps during World War II. The United States Playing Card Company collaborated with the government in the production of these cards. Once they became wet, they peeled apart. Inside, the prisoners found parts of maps that would lead them to freedom.

10. The Ace of Spades Assisted the U.S. Troops in Vietnam
In 1966, when the Vietnam War was raging on, two United States lieutenants contacted the United States Playing Card Company. The two officers wanted decks of playing cards that consisted of nothing more than Aces of Spades. The aces were used as part of a psychological
warfare against the Viet Cong. You see, when the French used cards to foretell the future, the Aces of Spades forewarned of death. The Viet Cong were superstitious, and just seeing this card made them fearful. Thousands of Aces of Spades were dispersed throughout the jungles to
make the enemy leave in fear.

There we go.  Find it interesting? Do you have any other playing card based trivia?

19 comments

    1. But… that Snopes article essentially corroborates the “How French Court Cards Got Their Faces” entry. They may not represent anything *now* (which is the urban legend, I suppose?), but they were the “more or less” standard representation of the French court cards *at that time*.

  1. I have a beautiful pack of cards designed by Tony Meeuwissen called The Enchanted Deck, which are called transformation cards. Transformation cards are a pack that utilises the pips on the faces of the cards to produce pictures, for example the two of diamonds is a picture of a piece of Battenburg cake, sliced down the middle, with the red squares being the pips.

    Have a peek, they really are very clever and pretty

    http://www.folioboutique.com/tonymeeuwissen/

  2. Also, If you add up the value of every single card including the joker as ‘1’, Jack ’11’, Queen ’12’ and King ’13’ the total is the same as the amount of days in 1 year. 365.

  3. Quite interesting indeed. I’m not quite sure what is meant by the difference in the apperance of the ace of spades. It doesn’t look different now does it, or am I playing with strange decks?

  4. US Playing Card Company moved last year, they are no longer located in Cincinnati, Ohio, they can now be found across the river in Erlanger, KY

  5. Cause I’m Irish and stuff i know this,
    There was this war between England and Ireland. So there was shooting and bombing and stuff. And England used to arrest Irish people and test them for tiny particles of gunpowder. Then they saw these two irishmen playing cards. They were suspected for bombing somewhere so they tested them and they saw the same particles that were used to make gunpowder on their hands. Then so many years later they found out that the ink on playing cards has the same type of stuff as gunpowder!!!

  6. I go through about 5 packs of these a week, fascinating facts I might use some next time I perform.

    Here is another

    52 cards in a deck – 52 weeks in a year
    4 suits in a deck – 4 seasons in a year.

    I used to know more but getting older now!

    Roger

  7. I once read that a convict had taken a set of cards, shaved them to a fine pile of dust particles, made a M-80 type bomb and blew the lock off his cell. Anyway something like that! Anybody read anything like that

  8. When someone writes an paragraph he/she retains the
    image of a user in his/her mind that how
    a user can understand it. Therefore that’s why this post is outstdanding.
    Thanks!

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