sparks Naipes Guerreiro


Returning from battles during the Hundred Years War (1337-1453), English soldiers brought various objects from the continent. The commercial freight of French and Flemish merchants on route to England included wines, missals, prayer books and other popular merchandise of the era. These consignments also included playing cards, which were seen as a new fashionable item from continental Europe, still little known in the British Isles. Many French traders stayed in the city of Rouen in northern France, which was an important export center for products from France and other European countries.

Accordingly, the regional Rouen deck became the standard used in England. Craftsmen soon appeared, especially in London, interested in producing cards in the country, following the new model. The opening of the market led some French manufacturers to establish themselves in London, including Blanchard, an important French manufacturer at the time. From the fourteenth to the eighteenth century, use of the characteristic English standard deck was restricted to England. In the eighteenth century, the deck followed pilgrims to English colonies in the New World.


In England, the game of whist also emerged in the eighteenth century, following the original structure of the trick games. Whist soon became a popular game and was played in other European countries and in the Orient, especially in India, an important British colony at the time. In the United States, poker became popular as a betting game. From various American regions, the game spread throughout the American territories and from there, move on to other parts of the world.

All these games used the English deck as standard. And gradually, but quickly, the design spread around the world, following the passion for whist and poker. The successor of whist, bridge became well-known as an important game in the early twentieth century. And English deck was increasingly known and recognized as the standard deck. The design originally created by an obscure Rouen manufacturer soon became the international standard, used by a great many players and manufactured throughout the world. Today, when someone speaks of a deck of cards, they are almost certainly referring to a deck using the international standard. The 157 and 139 decks (in the regular and Experience versions), together with Poker Stars, Texas Hold Em and other quality decks, are some of the decks Copag has manufactured for many years.


One of the most interesting and striking aspects of this standard is that the main characteristics of the figure designs have been maintained for more than five centuries. Perhaps this is the most enduring and most copied graphic design in the world.

Comprising 52 cards, the deck uses the French suit system. It consists of three figures (King, Queen and Jack) and 10 numbered cards for each suit.

Although each of the many manufacturers who have produced and continue to produce international standard decks have also created and modified styles, often corrupting the original meaning of a particular detail, various basic points have been retained in almost all versions produced. Note, however, that in modern decks it is often difficult to associate the details of figures to known objects. Over time, designs that once represented specific items, such as weapons and clothing ornaments, were transformed into stylized abstract shapes, often with an appearance quite different to the original.

The following illustration shows significant stages in the evolution of the international deck design, since its inception in Rouen.

Until the mid-nineteenth century, identification of a card required a full view of the card. During this period, two major advances in graphic design were introduced. Firstly, the cards began to use a mirrored, double design, allowing them to be recognized regardless of which side of the card was held. The second innovation was the introduction of values ​​and suits in the corners of the cards (called indexes), allowing cards to be identified without fully exposing them.

Cartas Rei de Copas Cartas Rei de Copas Cartas Rei de Copas Cartas Rei de Copas

King of Hearts

Cartas Rei de Ouros Cartas Rei de Ouros Cartas Rei de Ouros Cartas Rei de Ouros

King of Diamonds

Damas de Espadas Damas de Espadas Damas de Espadas Damas de Espadas

Queen of Spades

Valete de Copas Valete de Copas Valete de Copas Valete de Copas

Valete de Copas

(1) Marechal c. 1567, (2) Hunt c. 1809, (3) De la Rue (mid-19th century – double figure with no indexing) and (4) Copag 139.

A typical card from the international standard is the joker. It is used in some games as an extra card, commonly replacing any other card in the deck. The joker is an American invention from 1865. It was created for the game of euchre, brought to the United States in the mid-nineteenth century by German immigrants and became very popular throughout the country as well as in Australia, competing with whist and poker. Today, it is played in the south and west of England, especially in Cornwall. In this game, the jack of the trump suit is called the Right Bower and the other jack of the same color as the trump suit is called the Left Bower. An extra card or Best Bower is then introduced, giving rise to the modern joker. Bower, in German, means small farmer, and is also used to refer to the jack in playing cards. The evolution of this word to joker was due to a corruption of the name of the game, known in German as Jucker or Juckerspiel. Samuel Hart, a leading American playing card manufacturer in the nineteenth century, introduced the Best Bower as an extra card in his decks for euchre in 1865. The use of jesters on joker cards began in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century.

  • Cartas Curinga

    Samuel Hart, c.1863.

  • Cartas Curinga

    Goodall (for the USA), in c.1871 – 1 “jester”

  • Cartas Curinga

    Goodall, England, 1904.

  • Cartas Curinga

    Consolidated Dougherty, USA, c.1920.

Another peculiarity of the international deck are the aces of spades. Nearly all manufacturers present this card with a great central suit, distinguishing it from the others. This peculiar card originated in England in the eighteenth century. In order to identify the payment of taxes on manufactured decks, each manufacturer was required to buy aces of spades from a printer appointed by the government. The card included an official design, with a large, stylized central suit, with numbering and other details that identified the payment of taxes. This purchase operation characterized the payment of tax on the production of the deck.

Accordingly, manufacturers produced all the cards for their decks, except the ace of spades. This was possible at the time, considering the uniformity of the cards used and the lack of decoration on the back of cards. Even after the card was no longer used for tax identification, the ace of spades maintained its flamboyant, unique designs, a tradition still used today by most manufacturers. During the period in which the card served as an official control, falsification of the ace of spades was punishable with the death penalty. There is a record of one manufacturer being hanged in 1805. This sinister penalty may have suggested identification of the ace of spades as a death card, still a latent superstition among certain people, particularly in the Orient.

Ases Ases
1800 - 1801
Ases Ases Ases Ases Ases Ases
1807 - 1862
Ases Ases
Aces of spades with a record of paying taxes
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