Most of us are used to the standard deck of fifty-two playing cards that includes a couple of jokers. In most of our lives the jokers are good for little more then something to set your drink on. Outside of that it is four suits with thirteen cards per suit. For those more superstitious among us, this makes games involving cards inherently unlucky, but that is how it is, and for the majority of card players, that is how it always has been; this doesn’t mean that the standard deck we are all used to was invented in this form and has never changed. The deck has needed to go through some major overhauls in the past, and these occasionally involved experimenting with other suits.
The “International Playing Cards” was an invention of 1895, and featured six different suits. Considering how many cards this would add to the deck, it would seem its creators, Hiram Jones, was trying to get under the skin of nineteenth century card counters, but seeing as MIT had not yet made its assault on Las Vegas (not that there was a Vegas to assault in that year), one would have to assume he was just trying to liven up the game.
As we mentioned previously, the “International Playing Cards” featured two new suits; and what could be more international then crosses and bullets. The additional red suit featured a cross, and the bullets were incorporated into a black suit. The cards really didn’t capture the fancy of…well…anyone, and today are only found on the possession of the sort of people who like to be considered intellectual and eclectic; in other words, pretentious twits.
Up until the middle of the twentieth century, attempts were often made to change the deck, but nothing could displace the standard four suits and fifty-two cards we are all so familiar with.