King, Queen or Joker? Playing cards are known and used the world over—and almost every corner of the globe has laid claim to their invention. Playing cards only arrived in Europe in the 14th century. Since then cards have served as amusing pastimes, high-stakes gambles, tools of occult practice, magic tricks, and mathematical probability models—even, at times, as currency and as a medium for secret messages. Today, playing card inspired art and furniture designs for home is on top of the trend.