Playing cards haven’t always been the uniform, neatly stacked, beautifully illustrated bits of card that they are today.
There wasn’t much deviation in a 52 card deck (no, UNO does not count) unless you go all the way back to the 1930s, when the United States Playing Card Company introduced a 5th suit in their 65 card deck.
So you had the clubs, spades, hearts, diamonds and… an eagle. In green, no less. That varied slightly over here in Blighty, with a blue crown used as the symbol instead, but the idea was the same. Five of a kind and much more confusing full houses were likely here.
They were mainly intended for use in games of Bridge, but collectors have pointed out that the decks of 65 included rules for 5-suit poker, among others.
The idea came from a Viennese psychologist named Walter Marseille, who wanted to make the games more interesting. That he certainly accomplished. It didn’t last very long (no longer than the end of World War II in fact), as people preferred the simpler, less complex 52 card deck and it stuck.
Imagine, for a moment, playing the Ace of Eagles. Or the King of Crowns? Blergh, no thanks.
Whatever next? Four goal football? Three hole golf? Multi-level chessboards? Oh wait, that last one’s already been done.
[Via: Mental Floss]