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The History of Playing Cards

There’s a history behind the playing cards that we all enjoy today. If you’re a magician, then as a magician, you should understand the history behind the tools that you use, it’s amazing how few magicians take the time to research the incredible history of playing cards, even though the prop is a big focus of their attention.

Playing Cards from the very beginning

It would be accurate to start the history of playing cards in China, this is believed to be playing cards’ origin. The idea of playing cards came from its origin, China, where it became widely popular and accepted in society. The amusement that people got from playing cards spread to Persia and India, then on to Egypt. The next place to accept playing cards was across Europe from the Iberian Peninsula and Italy, this was during the later half of 14th century. This is one of the main reasons why playing cards in Europe usually have Islamic symbols and derivation in them.

The earliest packs of playing cards were recovered from archaeological research and showed that the artworks behind the cards were hand painted, this made them a lot more expensive that the generic cards we have today.

In the 13th and 15th centuries, society witnessed fundamental religious and economic changes brought on by new technology. New trade routes were discovered across Medieval Europe and its trade centres moved from town to town. Manufacturers of playing cards then started to design luxury cards to fit players tastes.

At the end of the 16th century people started to develop new ways of categorizing and classifying their experience. Their ideas, outlook and perspectives in life changed due to technological advances. They’ve now discovered concepts such as lunar cycle, virtues, heavenly bodies, taxonomies and hierarchies, with these ideas the design of playing cards also adjusted. This meant that as well as using the cards for playing, they could also use them for sharing new ideas in heraldry and botany to people.

Playing cards head to the west

When playing cards reached Western Europe in the fifteenth century, new printing techniques were discovered and applied to the development of newer styles of playing cards. At this time there were already new designs that evolved from the distinct culture of the different regions in the area. standard patterns were available which ere based on the particular region’s taste, preference and social affairs. This is why the court hierarchy came into play, including kings, queens and their attendants.

It’s said that the suit symbols started from the Chinese’s development of money cards, this design spread across Europe and was integrated into the adaption of various Islamic design symbols including polo sticks, coins, cups and swords.

So there you have it, the history of playing of playing cards and how they originated. Should you be looking for a personalised pack of playing cards, look no further, we can help.

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