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Playing cards have been with us since the 14th century, when they first entered popular culture. Over the centuries packs of cards, in all shapes and sizes, have been used for games, gambling, education, conjuring, advertising, fortune telling, political messages or the portrayal of national or ethnic identity. All over the world, whatever language is spoken, their significance is universal. Their popularity is also due to the imaginative artwork and graphic design which is sometimes overlooked, and the “then & now” of how things have changed.

Estate Playing Cards

Estate Playing Cards with five suits designed by Keith Wilson

Estate Playing Cards with five suits were designed by Keith Wilson as an augmented and modified deck of cards reflecting the modern world. The traditional royal courts (jack, queen and king) are replaced by a contemporary man and woman, called family cards. Each suit runs 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, Man, Woman, Ace. The suits, referred to as “Estates”, are hearts, diamonds, clubs, spades and waves which represent Church, Corporation, Community, Military and the Media. The resultant pack has 60 cards + 2 extra “Imperial” cards, the Pope and the President, which replace the joker.

Estate Playing Cards with five suits designed by Keith Wilson, 2006

The fifth Estate, called Waves, represents signals put out by various media. The symbol is a graphic of a transmission wave. Most existing card games can be played with an estate deck. Some remain virtually unchanged while others require modifications. The family cards generally hold a value of ten, although in certain games Man may be eleven and Woman twelve. Aces are high or low usually with values of 11 or 1 respectively. In games such as 500 and Poker, estates from highest to lowest are Waves, Hearts, Diamonds, Clubs and Spades. In Bridge the estate order is Spades, Hearts, Waves, Diamonds, Clubs.

Above: Estate Playing Cards published by Vasey Corporation Pty Ltd Queensland Australia, 2006. Cards printed in India by The Ace Card Company [www.playingcardsindia.com]. 60 cards + 2 extra cards + leaflet in box.

REFERENCES

Estate Playing Cards website

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By Simon Wintle

Member since February 01, 1996

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Curator and editor of the World of Playing Cards since 1996.

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