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The History Of Dice And Cards

Volume I

The Gaming Table by Andrew Steinmetz, Volume II

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The History Of Dice And Cards

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The four suits of cards are supposed to represent the four
estates of a kingdom:--1. The nobility and gentry; 2. The
ecclesiastics or priesthood; 3. The citizens or commercial men;
4. The peasantry or Husbandmen. The nobility are represented in
the old Spanish cards by the espada, or sword, corrupted by us
into 'spades,'--by the French with piques, 'pikes or spears.'
The ecclesiastical order is pointed out by copas, or sacramental
cups, which are painted in one of the suits of old Spanish cards,
and by coeurs, or 'hearts,' on French cards, as in our
own--thereby signifying choir-men, gens de choeur, or
ecclesiastics--from choeur de l'eglise, 'the choir of the
church,' that being esteemed the most important part or the HEART
of the church.

The Spaniards depicted their citizens or commercial men under
dineros, a small coin, an emblem very well adapted to the
productive classes; the French by carreaux, squares or
lozenges--importing, perhaps, unity of interest, equality of
condition, regularity of manners, and the indispensable duty of
this class of men to deal with one another 'on the square.' The
Spaniards made bastos, or knotty clubs, the emblem of the 'bold
peasantry,' taken probably from the custom that the plebeians
were permitted to challenge or fight each other with sticks and
quarter-staves only, but not with the sword, or any arms carried
by a gentleman; while the French peasantry were pointed out under
the ideas of husbandry, namely, by the trefles, trefoil or
clover-grass. So much for the SUITS.

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