ver the years the origin of Blackjack, like many other games, has eluded researchers for a long time and which continues to be hotly debated to this day. Till date there has been no clear consensus, but most agree it probably originated in French casinos around 1700, where it was called Vingt-et-Un which, translated, means twenty-one. Most believe it was probably derived from the French card games, Chemin de Fer, and French Ferme, which were in vogue at that time.
Another of its version was prevalent in Spain, which was called 'One and Thirty'. The basic rule of the Spanish version was to reach 31 with a minimum of three cards.
A theory that’s also doing the rounds is that Blackjack was an invention by the Romans. It is believed that Romans used to play this game with wooden blocks of different numerical values. This theory holds some weight as Romans loved gambling, but that by no means confirms the theory.
Among the various versions of the game, 'Vingt-et-Un’ or ‘21’ continued to grow in popularity and reach. It gradually spread to North America thanks to French colonists and soon after it was played throughout the continent. The rules of Blackjack were then different from those of modern or contemporary Blackjack. Just to elaborate, in this form of Blackjack, only the dealer was permitted to double. Also, a betting round was there between each of the playing cards dealt.
The game was still termed ‘21’ when it gained popularity in Nevada in 1931 as the State first chose to make gambling legal. To draw more people to the game, some casinos then offered a special bet: A hand featuring either of the black jacks (the Jack of Spades or that of Clubs) plus the Ace of Spades would pay 10-to-1 odds on the lucky player’s bet. Although casinos later discontinued this peculiar payout, the name ‘blackjack’ or ‘black jack’ remained, as the game is known today.
Five of Clubs: “Watson’s card”. The name has nothing to do with Sherlock Holmes but refers to a famous gambler who is supposed to have won £10,000 at Faro through his wager in connection with this card.
Blackjack was not conceived by any one person at one definite point of time. On the contrary, blackjack has evolved over centuries; it continues to evolve and grow even today, thanks to the Internet. Fuelling its popularity the online casino industry has developed various versions of the game which has truly revolutionized it.
Now a few reputed casino operators have started an innovative and far more enjoyable concept of this game: live blackjack game with real dealers. Live Blackjack is the most advanced way to play your favourite casino game right in the comfort of your home, without having to go a long way to a field-based casino.
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“Royal Cards Reign of Queen Anne” cover historical events, both honourable and treacherous, during the period 1702 to 1704.
In standard English packs the Ace of Spades is associated with decorative designs. This is a historical survey of why this should be.
Dubois card makers from Liège in the Walloon Region of Belgium.
PLAYING CARDS: A Secret History
This deck was inherited from ancestors, it has has a family history surrounding it. Details of the lives of previous owners make it all so fascinating.
Video by Art of Impossible. In this video you will get a short overview of the most important historical facts about playing cards and their history.
Archaic Spanish-suited deck with 48 cards made in Toledo in 1584.
Gambling and Vice in the Hours of Charles V: card-playing in the local tavern
A facsimile of an early 19th century French-suited deck from the collection of F.X. Schmid.
Reproduction of Richard Blome’s Heraldic playing cards, 1684, presented to lady guests at WCMPC Summer Meeting in 1888.
Facsimile of “Le Jeu de la Guerre” designed by Gilles de la Boissière in 1698.
Corner Indices were a major innovation in playing card production.
Baraja Carlos IV, Félix Solesio en la Real Fábrica de Macharaviaya, 1800.
A presentation of the main characteristics of the wood-block courts of the heart suit.
This is a presentation in a more straightforward fashion of the work done by Paul Bostock and me in our book of the same name.
Some further material relating to cards from nineteenth and twentieth century periodicals.
Facsimile of patriotic 1878 Tyrolean playing cards published by Piatnik in 1992.
Here are a few early advertisements relating to cards from newspapers 1684-1759 and a number of later 19th century documents of interest.
Hand-made playing cards by French prisoners of war in Porchester Castle, Hampshire, c.1796.
A continuation of the development of the off-spring of the Paris patterns and a few examples of how the French regional figures have inspired modern designers.
A great many regional patterns were exported from France and subsequently copied elsewhere. Some of them became local standards in their own right.
Continuing our look at the figures from the regional patterns of France.
On page 11 I illustrated several examples of the regional French patterns from Sylvia Mann's collection; this is a more in-depth look at the figures of these patterns ("portraits" in French).
Facsimile of Tarot de Marseille by Iohann Christoph Hes, Augsburg, c.1750.
Notgeld - Emergency Money - was in rare cases issued on playing cards.
There are some interesting packs from Goodall in the last quarter of the 19th century.
1st edition of famous Bicycle Playing Cards printed by Russell & Morgan Printing Co., Cincinnati, 1885.
Primiera Bolognese by Modiano, c.1975
Facsimile edition of Swiss suited deck first published by Johannes Müller in c.1840.
Archaic Navarra pattern produced for the Pamplona General Hospital Monopoly by Pedro Varangot in 1786.
Navarra pattern produced for the Pamplona General Hospital Monopoly in 1682.
“Money Bag” pattern by Hermanos Solesi, late 18th c.
Illustrated playing cards featuring comical engravings and rhymes about saints, c.1740.
Navarra pattern by an unknown cardmaker with initials I. I., 1793.
Anonymous archaic Spanish Suited pack, c.1760
Geographical playing cards sold by Henry Brome, second edition, c.1682.
French suited German engraved cards c1610 to 1650,
“Jeu de Géographie” educational playing cards etched by Stefano Della Bella (1610-1664) and published by Henry le Gras, c.1644.
Cartes des Rois de France (1644) facsimile edition by Edizioni del Solleone, 1986.