- In the standard French deck, an ace has a single suit symbol (a heart, diamond, spade, or club) located in the middle of the card, sometimes large and decorated, especially in the case of the Ace of Spades
- This embellishment on the Ace of Spades started when King James VI of Scotland and I of England required an insignia of the printing house to be printed on the Ace of Spades
- This insignia was necessary for identifying the printing house and stamping it as having paid the new stamp tax
- Although this requirement was abolished in 1960, the tradition has been kept by many card makers
- In other countries the stamp and embellishments are usually found on ace cards; clubs in France, diamonds in Russia, and hearts in Genoa because they have the most blank space
- The word "ace" comes from the Old French word as (from Latin 'as') meaning 'a unit', from the name of a small Roman coin
- It originally meant the side of a die with only one mark, before it was a term for a playing card
- Since this was the lowest roll of the die, it traditionally meant 'bad luck' in Middle English, but as the ace is often the highest playing card, its meaning has since changed to mean 'high-quality, excellence'
- This connotation has seen the word applied to an unreachable tennis serve, a successful fighter pilot and more generally as a person proficient in his or her field, especially a sporting field
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