Like the game of chess, cards are supposed to be of Asiatic origin, and indeed seem to have been based upon the same warlike associations, some of the figures of chess having appeared also in the cards used in the Orient. In Hindostan cards were called tchatar-tass, signifying four crowns or four kings, the popular name being taj or tas. There is no queen, the court suits being the king and his vizier. The king is variously represented, but the distinguishing mark is the royal umbrella over his head. The vizier is mounted, sometimes on a horse, sometimes on a camel, sometimes on a tiger. The Chinese call their cards che-pae or paper tickets; they have 30 cards in a pack, 3 suits of 9 cards each, and 3 single cards which are superior to all the others. - The most ancient form of cards is still preserved in the figures of the cards used in the French game of tarots. This name is derived from the Arabic, and the game was originally connected with religious, necromantic, and scientific associations. The ancient terms for cards, as naypes in Spain and naibi in Italy, are also of Arabic etymology, and signify fortune-telling. In all probability, cards were introduced into Europe by Arabs, Jews, and other oriental races, before the 13th century, the Saracens especially having made the game popular in Spain and Italy, whence the taste for it spread into Germany, France, and England. The first historical evidence of its existence in Germany is in the Stadtbuch of Augsburg of 1275, where it is stated that "Rudolph I. amused himself with playing cards and other games." The use of cards in Italy is mentioned as early as 1299. The first authentic record in France occurs in 1393. As early as the 15th century an active trade in cards sprung up in Germany, and was chiefly carried on at Nuremberg, Augsburg, and Ulm, the demand from France, England, Italy, Spain, and other countries, producing great prosperity among the manufacturers.
The most eminent manufacturer of cards in France in the 16th century was Jean Volay. In England the manufacture of cards flourished especially under Elizabeth. But no sooner had cards come to be generally used in Europe than they were prohibited by several governments, partly from moral considerations, the first games, as Landshnecht in Germany, lansquenet and piquet in France, being games of chance; partly from considerations of political economy, as in England, where the importation of foreign cards was considered injurious to the prosperity of home manufacturers. The prohibition, however, only tended to increase the taste for cards. In England, under Richard III. and Henry VII., card playing grew in favor. The latter monarch was very fond of the game, and his daughter Margaret was found playing cards by James IV. of Scotland when he came to woo her. The popularity which cards gradually obtained in England may be inferred from the fact that political pamphlets under the name of " Bloody Games of Cards," and kindred titles, appeared at the commencement of the civil war against Charles I. One of the most striking publications of this kind was oue in 1660 on the royal game of ombre.
In " Pepys's Diary," under the date of Feb. 17, 1667, it is stated that on Sabbath evenings he found "the queene, the duchesse of York, and another or two, at cards, with the rooms full of ladies and great men." - The marks upon the suits of cards are supposed to have been originally intended for a symbolical representation of the four different classes of society, hearts representing, according to this supposition, the clergy, spades the nobility (Ital. spada, a sword), clubs the serfs, and diamonds the citizens. The figures originated with military and historical associations. So we find the kings in the first French cards, David, Alexander, Caesar, and Charlemagne, representing the monarchies of the Jews, Greeks, Romans, and French; the queens, representing Argine, Esther, Judith, and Pallas. The knaves, the ace, and the number of the cards were based upon similar ideas; but many changes and modifications have taken place at various periods, according to the customs and tastes of different countries.
About the year 1660 heraldic cards were introduced into England, on which the kings of clubs, spades, diamonds, and hearts were respectively represented by the arms of the pope and of the kings of France, Spain, and England. A modern pack consists of 52 cards, comprising four suits: two red, hearts and diamonds; and two black, spades and clubs. Each suit consists of three court or picture cards, the king, queen, and knave, and ten other cards distinguished by the number of spots, ranging from one to ten. The one spot is known as the ace, and the two and three are often called respectively the " deuce " and "tray." - Breitkopfs Versuch des Ursprungs der Spielkarten is one of the most learned dissertations on the subject. Singer's "Researches into the History of Playing Cards" was published in London in 1816; Leber's Etudes Mstoriques sur les cartes d jouer, in Paris in 1842; and Chatto's " Facts and Speculations on the Origin and History of Playing Cards," in London in 1848.
Hindoo Cards, reduced - King and Vizier.
Old German Cards - Seven of Clubs and Seven of Hearts.