Playing cards were invented long ago in China and eventually spread to Europe. The modern suits of cloves, spades, hearts and diamonds did not always exist. As the playing cards became popular and card games became fun, new suits were designed. The modern suits as we know have their origins in France (Paris and Rouen) in the 15th century. The suits were called as coeurs, piques, carreaux and trefles.
The coeurs or clubs could derive their design from German card suits just like piques or spades. The French, who are credited to have given the red and black colours to the suits choose the four symbols because they were easy to stencil for bulk manufacturing of playing cards.
The symbols also known as pips, had cultural and geographical roots attached to them. When the playing cards reached France, the era was shrouded in mysticism. Tarot cards held some influence and the way each tarot card had a symbol played a role in the design of the modern suits.
Historians theorize that each modern suit was a simpler representation of slightly more complicated symbols of cups or chalices, swords, coins and batons. They also think that each symbol stood for a class of people in society. The chalices became hearts, representing the noble, swords became spades, representing the soldiers, coins became diamonds standing for the merchants and the batons became clubs representing the peasants.
The historians also believe that folklore, rather than logic influenced the designs of the playing cards, which got their names from the things they looked like in real life. As some time passed and the printing of playing cards became a heavy investment with high taxation, the designs changed, sometimes by choice and sometimes due to an error in printing.
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