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Wikipedia says

After the French Revolution some games started to use the ace or 1 as the highest card which symbolized the lowest in society rising above the King.

A discussion forum recently indicated that this reference is unverified, and that original sources were not easily found.

Sources showing French sculpture venerating the Aces, provides anecdotal evidence, as well with the history of French cards being stripped of noble symbol, and then reinstated by Napoleon.

The practice of 'aces high' could have come before the French Revolution, however, and been adopted then due to the alignment with situation.

  • Is there are usage of 'aces high' that predates the French Revolution?
  • Is there any evidence that the practice of aces high has wide renown principally due to the French Revolution?
  • 1
    For what it's worth, this account [whiteknucklecards.com/history/briefhistory.html] says that aces began to be used as the highest card in some games from the late 14th century, but that it was popularised by the French Revolution, which would imply (if true - I haven't found any other sources yet) that the answer to both your questions is "yes". – Arkady Jul 16 '13 at 13:18
  • @Arkady if you write it as an answer, I'll accept it – New Alexandria Sep 3 '13 at 17:32
4

The game "Three card brag" is a 16th century game (pre-dating the French revolution) that treated the ace as the highest card. (Source: Bathe 1988, at p. 22)

The rise of the Ace to pre-eminence had it beginnings in the 14th century. [...] The practice was only further popularized in the republican fervor of the French Revolution (1789-1799) where many more games began to be played ‘Ace high’.

(Source: White Knucklehead Cards)

References

  • 2
    I initially voted this up, and then had second thoughts when I re-read the question. Why are these sources considered any more reliable than the original? – Oddthinking Sep 8 '13 at 1:07

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