Swanley History Group – Media Report – September 2014 meeting
A pack of playing cards is what Alan Payne, speaker at our September meeting, said he would request as his luxury item on ’ Desert Island Discs’. He illustrated how many ways they can be used to pass the time, showing slides of people playing card games such as whist, canasta and patience, conjuring and doing card tricks with special packs and using playing cards to build towers and other amazingly high structures. Predating tarot, playing cards have long been a tool for fortune telling – beware the 4 of Clubs otherwise known as The Devil’s Bed!
Originating in China during the fifth century, different styles have evolved – cards used in Britain are based on those developed in Rouen. Pictorial ‘transformation’ cards can be valuable – so if you see any at a charity shop or boot fair snap them up! (pun intended)
Why is the symbol of the Ace of Spades larger than the symbols of the other three aces? This could be a quiz question – a couple of clues….. Charles 1st and tax. It is said that this card, symbolising death and destruction in many cultures including the Viet cong, was used by USA as a psychological weapon during the Vietnam War – by scattering thousands of these cards in the forests and fields.
Card games and players have featured in many famous paintings – as examples Alan showed us ‘The Cheat with The Ace of Clubs’ painted by George de la Tour in 1629 and ‘The Card Players’ one of a series painted by Cezanne. There is a view that the Queen of Hearts is based on a portrait of Elizabeth of York, queen consort of Henry V11.
The subject of our next meeting on Tuesday 7 September is ‘The Swanley War Memorial’ -7.30 pm start at The Clocktower Pavilion, St Mary’s Road, Swanley.
Christina Tyler, Programme Organiser