Playing cards are a set of cards with symbols on, known as a deck
, that are used to play an incredibly wide variety of games. The cards are typically about 5cm by 8cm in size, allowing a number of them to be held easily in the hand.
The earliest record of playing cards in Europe is 1377, but it is likely they were invented in China, where paper was invented. The original images on the cards were coins. The Islamic empire added cups and swords, as suit symbols, and court cards. When cards reached Europe, the court cards were replaced with courtly figures, i.e. kings and their knights, servants, etc.
The standard English deck has 52 cards, divided into four suits, spades, hearts, diamonds and clubs. Each suit has 13 cards, numbered from 2 to 10 and then the court cards, Jack, Queen, King, Ace. The Ace can also be counted as card 1.
Playing cards can be used to play games such as Poker, Bridge, Rummy and Solitaire. They are also a favourite prop with magicians and con artists.