The Origin of Playing Cards

Playing cards made their way to Europe from the East. They appeared first in France and then in Spain. The reason for the belief that they appeared first in Italy is that the design on the cards closely resembles the Mamaluke design. The pack of cards consisted of 52 cards with suits of swords, polo sticks, cups and coins. Cards with the numbers one through ten and court cards that included the King (Malik), Deputy King (Naib Malik), and Second Deputy (thain naib).

Persia and India had cards that had 48 cards per deck, four suits, ten numerals and two courts in each suit known as Ganjifa. The number of suits doubled. In Arabia card decks became known as Kanjifah.

When playing cards came to Europe the craze took off. In 1377 they appeared in Switzerland. In 1380 they began to appear in Florence, Basle, Regensberg, Paris, and Barcelona. The rest is as they say history.

Early cards were hand made. The designs on the cards were also hand painted. They were also very expensive. They were used more at the time by rich people due to the cost. The craze reached the poor classes as they became cheaper.

Cheaper versions became available as they were mass produced. These cards were disposed of early. They increasingly became popular across all levels of society. Cards are made of stiff paper and some brands are laminated. They now come in mini cards and large prints for the visually impaired.