popular | Vintage

There Used To Be Five Playing Card Suits

Anyone who has ever even LOOKED at a deck of cards knows the four card suits.

Hearts. Clubs. Spades. Diamonds.

But what if we told you there once was a fifth card suit? And no, it's not April Fool's Day!

The original four suits were introduced by the French in the Middle Ages, but in 1930 the United States Playing Card Company introduced a new suit: the eagle. The eagle cards were green and intended for use in bridge games. In England, they would sometimes use a royal symbol of crowns in blue. But for Americans, it was the eagle through and through.

While the green cards were originally intended for playing bridge, there is also a five-suit version of poker that can be played where getting Five Of A Kind was a possibility.

But where did the idea for a 5th suit come from? Why was it necessary?

Playing card historian, Andrew Ward, attributes the idea to a Viennese psychologist named Walter Marseille who thought adding the new suit would make things more interesting. Having to focus on 65 cards instead of 42 would make things a little more challenging for players, but also more fun. However, people didn't tend to agree.

"The brain cells of average bridge fans are sorely taxed by the strain of 52 cards and four suits through the complex sequence of play," Life magazine wrote in 1938. "To players with durable memories the new game offers a challenge, to others a high hurdle."

Turns out, they were right. Five-suit games never really caught on. By the time World War II was over, the eagle was nowhere to be found.

Now, it can only be found through rare collectors decks and vintage thrift shops.

Do you remember the 5th suit? Would you find it fun or frustrating to play with an extra 13 cards? Let us know!

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