TNB Night Owl – The Fifth Suit

The 5th suit Green Eagle Playing cards. Photo by ecNate at

You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and… wait. You already know Rudolph. So how about this?

You know Hearts and Clubs and Diamonds and Spades, but do you recall… Eagles, the least famous playing card suit of all?

Playing card games remain popular today, but their ubiquity has diminished considerably from the turn of the 20th century. By the 1930s, bridge had become so popular that bridge clubs were found in most cities and some newspapers, including the New York Times, included regular bridge columns.

With so many people playing, something needed to be done to increase the complexity of the game (and, hopefully, to make cash for an inventive producer. Enter the United States Playing Card Company (the same company that manufactures the bulk of playing cards today) and their Eagle brand five suit bridge deck.

With 65 cards instead of the usual 52, and with a rule card explaining the relative hierarchy of all five suits in contract bridge, the game was expected to revolutionize card play. Rather than risk hurt feelings over the traditionally American symbol, decks sold in Britain featured a blue crown instead of a green eagle, but were otherwise identical.

The game, perhaps fortunately, did not catch on.

By the late 1940s the cards were discontinued. Hoyle’s Rules of Games, however, continued to include the rules for variant five suit decks, leading people to wonder about the increasingly rare decks. Today they can be found on Ebay for $180 – $500 each.

Personally, I’d just wait for someone to Kickstarter a new one. You know the stretch goals would have great add-ons.

Question of the night: what’s your favorite card game?

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About AlienMotives 1991 Articles
Ex-Navy Reactor Operator turned bookseller. Father of an amazing girl and husband to an amazing wife. Tired of willful political blindness, but never tired of politics. Hopeful for the future.