The history of card games goes back to the 12th century and it is believed by many historians that rummy history began from China because the paper was invented and used for the first time in China. The card games played in China had suits i.e. cards were segregated in groups and different card had different values (money values too) and had different pictures or items like coins.
Wikipedia says that playing card games started during the Tang Dynasty when relatives of a princess played a “leaf game“.
The old Chinese card games which actually were “money cards” had four “suits“:
- Strings of coins
- Tens of myriads.
Moving from China, card games moved to Asia and then to Arab countries but the Europeans were the ones who gave it a real shape. The Europeans used to travel all over the world and when they reached China and other Asian countries and saw people playing card games, they took the card games concept to Europe and soon Europeans started to play card games and it spread across like a jungle fire.
Initially, card games were very costly because they were made by hands and later card makers also used woodcuts to stamp the pictures to the cards but the real revolution came after the invention of the printing press and that was the time when every other person could afford playing card games. Card games could be printed easily and very quickly, thereby making it affordable and reachable.
13 Card game was played all over Europe but the French people were the real contributors in giving a glamorized look to the card games. They were the ones who came up with hearts, clubs, spades and diamonds and also introduced faces on the cards. Almost every deck of cards had these prints after that and till now too we same the similar prints.
When the card games spread in Asia and then to European countries, America wasn’t too far either. The Americans started playing card games in the 1800s and they made some changes in the cards too. Americans were the one who gave two-headed concept to the pictures and then also made the upside-down and right-side up so that the pictures looked the same. Also, the did add a small number and letter to the corners of each card making it easier to identify the card players were holding.
The deck of cards that we play with today are very similar to that were used at that point of time. Moreover, the card games that we play are also very similar to the ones that were played earlier. Different people have amended some or the other feature/rummy rules of these card games per their convenience but the basics still remain very similar; people are still playing card games old and new, together.