Project D: Summary of Exploration

For my analysis, I chose to explore playing cards. I considered investigating playing cards in other cultures, cards in person versus online, using cards to gamble versus using them for fun, the cultural connotation of playing cards, or even a comparison of different types of card games. I was most interested in pursuing further research on symbols used for card suits in different countries.

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Chinese playing card designs: three of “strings of coins,” three of “coins,” symbol for “myriad of coins,” and symbol for “tens of myriads.”

Spanish playing cards: coins remain coins, myriad become cups, strings become clubs, and tens become swords. Potential values: wealth, treasure, conquest, combat.

Swiss playing cards: coins become roses, cups become bells, clubs become acorns, swords become shields. Potential values: peace, art, music, nature, defense, non-aggression.

German playing cards: roses become hearts, bells remain bells, acorns remain acorns, shields become leaves. Potential values: love, music, nature, peace.

French playing cards: hearts remain hearts, bells become tiles, acorns become clovers, leaves become pikes. Potential values: art, design, mass production, equality.

(American playing cards use French symbols while editing the names to be hearts, diamonds, clubs, and spades. The names “clubs” and “spades” relate back to the Spanish/Italian suits. Potential value(s): cultural melting pot.)

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My hypothesis for this proposed research was, “There is an observable correlation between the cultural values of a country and the symbols used in their playing card suits.”

My proposed testing method goes as follows:

  1. Conduct an in-depth analysis of relevant art and literature from the same country and the same time period as the selected playing card set.
  2. Make note of the frequency and context in which symbols from the cards appear in other forms.
  3. Read relevant studies published about the cultural values from that country and time.
  4. Observe whether or not the symbols are used to by the culture to represent their values.


Johnson, J. (2011, November 7). Design History: The Art of Playing Cards. Retrieved April
29, 2017, from

McLeod, J. (n.d.). . Games classified by type of cards or tiles used. Retrieved April 29,
2017, from

McLuhan, M. (1964). The Medium is the Message. In Understanding Media: The Extensions
of Man
(pp. 1-18). New York City, New York: McGraw Hill.

Suit (cards). (n.d.). Retrieved April 29, 2017, from

Wintle, S. (2016, December 1). Angler Skat. Retrieved April 29, 2017, from


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