How to start collecting
The History of Playing Cards
The Tarot Pack
The Street Pack
Contact Information for The Hamshire Playing Card Collectors Clu
The History of the Playing Card
|Playing cards are the most popular objects of diversion in the world. More than three-quarters of all people play cards. Over the years old and unusual playing cards have become quite valuable and playing-cards are collected by many individuals and museums around the world.
The origin of playing cards is shrouded in mystery, some believe that they were used by warriors to simulate battle manoeuvres or for some magical purpose. In China it appears that cards were derived from paper money. Cards were also thought to originate in India (most Indian cards are round), Egypt or Japan.
Hand painted playing cards arrived in Europe in the 13th and 14th centuries. The use of cards quickly grew and in 1397 a decree issued in Paris forbade the use of playing cards on working days.
About this time cards started to be mass produced using wood-block printing. Playing cards and their designs, or suit symbols, vary throughout the world. The oldest being European cards of 14th century Italian design.
The origin of the suit now most commonly used signs now used are of a French designs that, when introduced into England, were named hearts, spades, diamonds, and clubs. ‘Nonstandard’ packs were first seen in the 17th century and soon became very popular. Many beautiful decks of cards were made in 18th- and 19th century France.
In France revolutionary decks were circulated and had instead of kings and queens, had cards representing ‘citizens’. Exquisitely hand-coloured costume cards, dating from the mid 19th century often represented actual people, dressed in the sumptuous costumes of the period.
This style of card led, in the 19th century, to the Transformation deck where people would amuse themselves by trying to create drawings based on the pips, or suit symbols, on the cards. The term transformation refers to changing a plain card to a work of art.