10 Interesting Facts About a Standard Deck of Playing Cards

10 Interesting Facts About a Standard Deck of 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. The company produces Aristocrat, Aviator, Bee, Bicycle and Hoyle brand cards. It also produces playing cards for popular brands and names like Coca-Cola, Mickey Mouse, Harry potter and Mr. Potato Head.

2. When Were Playing Cards First Used?
Another interesting fact about a deck of playing cards is that 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 four suits in a standard deck of playing cards is thought to have originated in 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 Playing Cards Got Their Face Card Designs

An interesting fact about a deck of standard playing cards is that it originally was the French version. The face cards in the deck were named after, and 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 Is the Ace of Spades Different Looking?
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.

Today, card manufacturers use the space to print their company information in, including trademark information.

6. They’re Not Playing With a Full Deck!
Have you ever heard this phrase, or said it about someone yourself? Nowadays, this phrase is generally used to describe a person who isn’t completely in their right mind.

An interesting fact about a deck of playing cards is, it actually generated this phrase. 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?
An interesting fact about a deck of playing cards is that usually playing cards have differentiable patterns on the backs of the cards. Unless the cards have advertising or pictures on the backs, that is. 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 Houses With Playing Cards Is Also a Favorite Pastime
Besides playing card games, building houses out of playing cards or “Cardstacking” is a favorite pastime for many people. A man named 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

An interesting fact about playing cards is that 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. What made these cards so unique was, 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 Too
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.

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2 thoughts on “10 Interesting Facts About a Standard Deck of Playing Cards

  1. hey thanks
    dats really interesting
    nice post thnks for sharing

  2. Austin says:

    Fascinating! Much of the historical stuff I was already aware of but the rest was a surprise. As a sleight-of-hand magician I have a natural interest in playing cards and I’m always looking for surprise facts to share with my audiences and students. Thanks!

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