Magic Seven

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Suits and signs in fortune telling

Cards have always been used for fortune telling. There have always been four suits, but there have been many changes in the signs used to mark them. The original quartette were Cups, supposed to be emblematical of Faith; Money, representing Charity; Swords, figuring Justice; and Clubs, typical of Fortitude. These signs are still retained in the Tarots, and in Italian and Spanish cards. Old German packs have bells, hearts, leaves, and acorns; and during the fifteenth century the French adopted spades (pique), hearts, clubs (trifle), and diamonds.

There is some difficulty in tracing how we come by the word spade in this connection. It has been thought to be a corruption of the Italian word spade, meaning swords. It is not known why the French should have called this suit pique. Our suit of clubs is known by the French is trifle, from their drawing the sign like the trefoil; and the Germans call it Eichel from its resemblance to an acorn.

Our name is supposed to show Italian influence, though where the connection between the word bastoni and our sign is to be found, I am at a loss to say. The heart sign needs no explanation, and is found in French, German, and English packs. It corresponds to the Spanish and Italian sign of cups. By some curious evolution the signs of money and bells were squared into the French carreaux, our diamonds. Many of the packs used in the fourteenth century were of the most artistic and costly nature, and in some cases the court cards were drawn so as to represent historic characters.