Since their initial development, the history or origin of playing cards have been associated with gambling, fortune telling, magic and games. They appear to have evolved from the use of natural objects such as bones and shells. Playing cards appeared in France in the late 1300s and the standard suit symbols used in the United States today, spades, hearts, diamonds and clubs, were first designed by the French. These four suits signs or symbols originally represented the four divisions of society, royalty (spades), clergy (hearts), merchants (diamonds) and peasants (clubs).
Collecting very early vintage playing cards of the 1400 to the late 1800s is out the question for the average collector due to price and availability. However playing cards of the early 1900s and vintage playing used in the last 50 years are not out of the reach of today’s collectors spadegaming.
To many people, card games are usually linked to gambling. Some card games such as Old Maid were generally made for the amusement of children and are very collectible. However, playing cards for the most part are used for gambling. Advertisers quickly found this popular game as a accepted way to promote their products. Cards with backs depicting transportation subjects such as airlines and railroads were giveaways or sold as souvenirs. Other souvenir playing cards include views of countries, states and amusement parks.
Decks of playing cards are often miniature works of arts, and the immense diversity of deck designs created over the centuries, offer a collector a never ending source of information and pleasure. You can find vintage playing cards at antique stores and flea markets and eBay.
Glyn Farber has published a catalog of all known Hickey Brother Cigar Store Tokens and co-authored a book about Louisiana Trade Tokens. In addition he wrote several articles for The Token and Medal Society (TAMS) and The National Token Collectors Association (NTCA). Glyn has been a devoted collector of Louisiana Trade Tokens, Louisiana collectibles and Lake Charles, LA postcards for almost 40 years.