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What Is the Queen of Spades?

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  • Written By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 03 December 2016
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The queen of spades is a card commonly found in contemporary decks of playing cards and is one of the court cards in these decks. Modern decks of playing cards can vary, depending on the part of the world in which they are made and used. In the US and some other areas, a deck of playing cards has three court cards — the jack, queen, and king — and four suits — hearts, diamonds, clubs, and spades. The queen is a court card that can be advantageous or disadvantageous to the player who has it, depending on the game being played.

Although there are a number of theories behind the development of modern playing cards, some ideas are fairly well established. Playing cards were likely developed in China, eventually making their way into Europe sometime during the 14th century and quickly spreading in popularity throughout various European countries. Many of the earliest decks that included a queen of spades were made in France. Earlier decks, including those made in Italy, often included four suits, which were typically cups, wands, swords, and coins, and four court cards, knaves, knights, queens, and kings.

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Different suits and court cards developed in different areas of Europe, however, sometimes not including the queen of spades. In Germany, for example, early decks included only three court cards, which were the knave, knight, and king, and the suits were hearts, bells, leaves, and acorns. French designs for playing cards, however, introduced the queen of spades as the court cards typically dropped the knight and reintroduced the queen along with the knave and king. The four suits in these early French decks were likely influenced by the German playing cards, keeping the hearts, adding diamonds rather than bells, turning the acorns into clovers or clubs, and changing the leaf into a spade.

Various games can value the queen of spades in different ways. In the game Hearts, for example, it is a card that is usually undesirable and results in high, unwanted points for anyone who has the card in his or her hand without the entire suit of hearts. Games of poker, however, can value the queen, as it is the third highest card in the game, behind only aces and kings. In traditional card reading, the queen of spades may be considered a sign of intelligence or creativity, although some people read the spades suit as indicative of strife or conflict.

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I have a tattoo of the queen of spades on my left calf. I got it when I was 25 on a whim but it has become one of my favorite tattoos.

I can't really explain why I chose that design. I have always liked the look of classic playing cards and I guess the queen in my favorite card and the spade is my favorite suit. I kind of just got it on a whim but it is still a really unique tattoo.

My friend came up with the design. He is an incredible artists and it does not look like any normal queen of spades. It has this kind of hazy, blurring, impressionistic look. Its hard to describe but beautiful to look at. I get comments on it all the time when I wear shorts.

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