Green eagles: The fifth suit
Did you know that in the 1930s, some decks of American playing cards had five suits? The fifth suit was eagles, and instead of being red or black, they were green. Strange looking, aren’t they? My eyes keep trying to turn the green eagles into black clubs.
It’s quite possible that as a child I played with such cards, or that my parents owned such cards. But either I’d forgotten they existed, or I’d never heard of them. (These days that’s often the question. Did I once know this but forgot? Or is this really the first time I’ve heard of it?)
In any case, my son mentioned it today and I found it fascinating. Imagine a deck with five suits instead of four. How would that affect game play? Which games would be made more interesting and complex? Which would be impossible? Could you play your favorite solitaire game if there were five suits to manage?
Wikipedia covers the subject in some detail. Apparently five suit bridge and poker became popular in the ’30s and perhaps remained so through the ’40s, when I might have seen the cards. I remember quite well that my parents often got together with other couples for an evening of bridge. But whether the cards they used had four suits or five, I couldn’t say.
Other than an occasional game of solitaire, I’d lost all interest in card games by the time I got to college. Bridge and poker managed to survive without me, and I without them. But if you’ve an interest in five suit card games, you can buy such cards from a company called Stardeck, and — no surprise — their fifth suit is stars.