When you play poker, receiving the Ace, the highest card is an achievement. People have linked the Ace of spades with death for centuries. But do you know the reason for it?
Understand why the ace of spades is said to be the death card! It is necessary to know a little about the starting point of playing cards. And also the symbols we normally take for granted. While the history of playing cards is a bit clouded. It’s usually accepted that Chinese began using “paper dominoes” during 10th century in their leisure games. In time, trade spread from Central Asia westward. And imported playing cards showed up in Europe by the end of the 1400s.
At that time, the playing cards were made and separately hand-painted, ensuring just royalty and the wealthy could pay for them. However, eventually, French manufacturers standardized the four playing card suits. Their colours and their shapes to make playing-card production easier and less costly.
This increased the extensive use of playing cards all through Europe and, eventually, the British colonies in North America.
The beginning of 19th century
At the beginning of the 19th century, Americans began producing their own playing cards and, over the years, sustained refining and standardizing the decks.
This incorporated innovations such as rounding the corners to lessen wear and tear and using polish on the surfaces making them easier to shuffle and boost durability, among other things. In 1867, three men started a printing trade in Cincinnati, Ohio, which would eventually develop into the United States Playing Card Company. Nowadays, that company holds the number-one market position in terms of U.S. sales, and its Bicycle brand has turn into synonymous with the play poker cards.
The Origin of the Ace of Spades as the Death Card
As playing cards spread westward over the centuries, the look and portrayal of the four card suits and face cards, among other things, were subject to individual, regional and cultural tastes and refinements. For example, the Italians depicted the forerunner of the modern spade symbol as a sword, while playing cards produced in Germanic nations used a leaf standing on its stem for the identical symbol/suit.
To make the design of playing-card suits simpler to help in their mass-production, the French used the silhouette of the Germanic overturned leaf, which looks like the modern spade, but the spade symbol likely reserved its linking with war, murder and death.
Latin Ace of Spades
In Latin, the word spatha, the predecessor of the new English word spade, denotes “broad, flat weapon or tool.” Also, the French referred to this suit as piques, meaning pikes. A pike was a two-handed attack weapon of warfare comprising a long wood shaft topped by a flat, sharp blade. It’s not hard to see in our modern spade symbol the picture of a pike blade.
A spade refers to a kind of shovel with a wide, flat, thin blade, frequently used to dig a grave as well. Even in today’s age of mechanical excavators, spades are still used by cemetery workers to crisply cut the grave outline in sod and/or to finish the sides/floor of the grave.
What sealed the link of the ace of spades as the “death card,” but, occurred at the Vietnam War.
According to the United States Playing Card Company (USPCC), a pair of American lieutenants serving abroad wrote the concern in February 1966 and asked USPCC to send them whole decks consisting of the ace of spades. Supposedly, the Viet Cong feared this card owing to the superstitions enclosing it as a harbinger of death. Also, the Bicycle brand uses Lady Liberty in its ace of spades symbol, which the rival also apparently regarded the “goddess of death.”
The next time you play poker online and get Ace of spades, tell the history to the other players as well.