Did you know first cards were used as money?
The first cards have little in common with current ones. However, each period in the history and each country has made them look the way we know today.

History of Playing Cards

Playing cards first originated in China in the 9th century. It is believed that friends and relatives played a leaf game where the earliest cards were first used. Scholars from China in the 10th and 11th centuries had asserted that several types of card games had existed during the Tang Dynasty in China.

The earliest cards in China were known as money cards and were made of four different suits, Strings of coins, coins, myriads of strings and tens of myriads objects. These were represented with numerals between 2 to 9 in the first three suits and for the "tens of myriads" the numbers were from 1 to 9. Scholars believed that these earliest cards might actually have been paper currency which were used as cards as well as the stakes for which the game was played.

The first cards that were ever printed were the deck of Chinese domino and the popular Mahjong tiles evolved from these earlier cards too. A Chinese document dating back to the 11th century asserts that domino cards were introduced during the Tang Dynasty.

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From China to India and Europe

The Indian playing cards have several common features with the early European cards. The cups, swords and rings that were shown in the hands of the Indian statues in the earliest playing cards have much in common with the earliest Sicilian cards.

However, it is not yet clear when and how playing cards were first introduced in Europe. Evidences suggest that playing cards had already been in England in the 13th century, however, the 38th canon of the council of Worcester that mentions about de rege et regina (means the king and the queen) game is now believed to have been chess rather than a card game as it was thought before.

A 13th century miniature painting that was made for King Louis II of Naples does show various people playing cards with King which suggests that card games might already have been introduced in Italy at that time. In our time it is hard to recreate online gambling history, but some have their thoughts about it.

Egyptian Cards

It is possible that the modern day cards might have arrived in Europe from Egypt in late 14th century. The Mamelukes from Egypt are thought to be the ones to introduce cards in Europe. However, by that time cards and card games had already been quite similar to the ones that we know today. The original decks used by the Mameluke had 52 cards that had four suits. The suits in their earlier decks were cups, swords, coins and polo sticks. Each of these suits had ten number cards and three court cards. These cards did not depict people but only names of officers and various designs.


Card Countries

China Japan
India Spain
England Germany

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