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Best of John Marchel
Oh, those wonderful playing cards21 January 2017
• In 1752, Benjamin Franklin used paper disks cut from playing cards in the construction of his equipment for making electrical experiments.
• Italians use a 40-card deck of playing cards; the Spanish use 48 cards. French have both 32 and 52-card decks for their various games, and French Tarot dealers have to cope with 78 large cards in their hand. Swiss players sitting down to play Jass would find 36 cards in their pack. German Skat players use 32 cards for that game.
• It’s ironic that in the Crusades, which involved European Christians against Muslims from the Middle East, both cultures disapproved of gambling, but were instrumental in bringing playing cards from the Middle East to Europe.
• The next time you see a deck of standard playing cards think of them as a calendar:
- There are 52 cards in the deck, and 52 weeks in a year.
- There are four suits; there are also four seasons in a year.
- A deck has 12 pictures cards and there are 12 months in a year.
- There are 13 cards in each suit; there are 13 lunar cycles in a year.
- The 13 cards in each suit also represent the 13 weeks in each season.
• The pips or indices numbers on the corners of playing cards was first introduced around 1871. These decks were originally known as “squeezers.”
• During the year 1765, playing cards were the tickets for admission to classes at the University of Pennsylvania.
• The English Stamp Act of 1765, which included a tax on playing cards, was imposed on the American Colonies and helped spark the American Revolution.
• It’s well known that soldiers in the Civil War usually discarded their playing cards before battle; since they were considered to be “instruments of the devil.” The soldiers did not want to die carrying them.
• Korean playing cards from around 1100 were ½ by 7 5/8 inches, with eight suits and 10 cards per suit for a total of 80 cards. The suits consisted of men, fish, crows, pheasants, antelopes, stars, rabbits and horses.
• During Emperor Mu-tsung's reign in China, it was reported he played cards with his wife on New Year’s Eve in 969 – making this the earliest reference to playing cards.
• In 1710 The British government enacted a tax on playing cards. The law called for a duty mark to be printed on the Ace of Spades in each deck. Forging a “duty-paid ace” was punishable by hanging and since then the ace of spades has been known as the “Card of death.”
• Today, we call it “bluffing” when playing various games of cards. In the 16th century Italians called it “ambush.”
• Mathematicians tell us that due to the number or order possibilities in a standard 52-card deck, it’s probable that a properly shuffled deck of cards has never yielded the exact same order of cards in all of history!
This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Best of John Marchel