Since the playing card was used so often on coin machines over the years, I thought you'd be interested in a little bit of historical trivia about the beginnings of the playing card.
Although some believe playing cards go back to the beginning of time, the cards we know today ar4e an outgrowth of the handpainted tarot cards that were used in Italy in the middle ages. It was not until the invention of printing in the 1400's, however, that playing cards became more widely used. There were many designs and variations for the many different kinds of games that were played.
The French designed the symbols that are used today "hearts, clubs, diamonds and spades'. These symbols stood for the symbols of power in medieval Europe. The hearts (which were derived from cups and chalices) represented the church. The spades (swords) represented the military. The diamonds (coins) represented the merchant class and the clubs (batons) represented agriculture. Originally, there were many different colors in addition to red and black, but the cost efficiencies of printing dictated use of only two colors.
Over the years, manufacturers experimented with different symbols, but the hearts, spades, diamonds, and clubs had become so ingrained that no other design gained popularity.
The world's largest playing card manufacturer is the U.S. Playing Card Co., which started in 1881. Several years ago they opened the nation's only playing card museum in Cincinnati, Ohio. The museum's collection contains over 100,000 decks covering a 500 year period. If you want to learn more about the history of playing cards, you can visit them, call: (513) 396-5731.
Copyright: 2009 Ken Durham, GameRoomAntiques
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