Richard Hale is a tattoo enthusiast who studies and researches tattoo symbolism, meanings, and history.
History: Not Just a Game Card
The ace of spades has been symbolic of many things. The history behind it may be surprising to some. It is commonly known as the highest valued card, even though some card games give it a lesser value. Card games have been popular for hundreds of years—the origins date back to the 17th century. Many viewed it as a symbol of good luck and good fortune. However, the ace of spade has a dark past in American history.
The ace of spades card was also used during wars, most commonly in World War II and the Vietnam war. During WWII, American soldiers would paint it on their helmet for good luck. In fact, all four card suits were used to help identify the American soldiers, including the diamond, club, and heart. During the Vietnam war, it was used to strike fear in the Vietnamese. It wasn't uncommon for ace of spades cards to be placed on departed Vietnamese soldiers. In some cases, thousands of cards would be placed in fields—for the Vietnamese, the ace of spades symbolized death. As you can see, it was used as a psychological weapon.
Today, it can mean a variety of things. The ace of spades tattoo is commonly inked on gamblers, bikers, and gangs. It has many other associations throughout history. In this article, we'll discuss ace of spades tattoo designs and meanings. In the end, we hope that you're able to leave inspired and with ideas for your next tattoo.
An ace of spades tattoos can be designed in many different ways. It can be designed alone or portrayed with several other symbols and elements. Due to this, there's a variety ace of spades tattoos.
- The most common tattoo is the ace of spades playing card. This card can also be designed in many ways. Some designs portray a spade in the center of the card or a skull. They are also commonly shown with other playing cards, such as within a royal flush—this tattoo would include the K, Q, J, and 10 of spades. Other card combinations are also common.
- Since it is a common gambling theme, it is often depicted with other gambling symbols and elements. The design could include dice, triple sevens, an eight ball, dice, poker chips, cards, money, coins, gold, silver, or cherries. These are all common symbols in gambling-themed tattoo designs. The ace of spades may also be portrayed with symbols of good luck as well, such as the four-leaf clover, horseshoes, or swallows.
- The ace of spades is also associated with death, so it's not uncommon for it to be designed with fire, flames, and skulls alongside it. You may want to consider it with flames or flaming skulls, the joker, black rose, or a black heart.
- For a unique ace of spades, you could design it with Tribal art, Celtic art, or some other style you like.
Make sure that you take the time to view all the different ace of spades tattoo designs in this article. It will give you a general idea of what to expect when you begin planning your tattoo design of the ace of spades. Remember, use your imagination and get creative.
Remember that the ace of spades tattoo can represent both positive and negative attributes. Though, in the end, it really will only represent what you decide it does. Below, you'll find some different meanings this symbol is meant to embody:
- good luck
- good fortune
As you can see, there are a variety of meanings and associations, both good and bad. It's been a symbol of good luck for hundreds of years. More recently, the ace of spades has been a symbol of power, wealth, and death.
There are a few things that you should note before you get your ace of spades tattoo (or any tattoo for that matter.)
- Just as you're doing now, take the time to do research. You want to make sure that you're completely aware of what your tattoo represents and what it stands for. This article contains dozens of designs. So remember, don't choose the first design you like. Take the time and search through many other designs before you make a final decision. Remember, you're planning to wear this forever.
- Never rush to get inked! Men and women that rush to get inked usually have regrets about their tattoo later on down the road. Don't make this same mistake. Cover-ups and laser removal are possible, but it'll cost you more time and more money.
- The ace of spades tattoo is a great choice for both men and women. Not only does the ace of spades look good alone, but it can also be donned with hundreds of other symbols. This allows you the opportunity to personalize your design.
We appreciate your support and value your time. If you have any comments, suggestions, or questions, please feel free to share them below. We provide free tattoo information and advice to all visitors. Once again, thank you for your time and be sure to view our other articles. Thanks!
© 2013 Richard Ricky Hale
Roy Hopper on October 07, 2019:
What does it mean when you tatto the ace backwards like the one in the photo? The ace is always on the upper left and the lower right, unles you copy one and forget too mirror it like the above pic.
Holli on August 16, 2019:
My sons name was Ace and he was stillborn. I wanted to get the ace of hearts tattooed on my chest..but maybe the ace of spades? Or is that..tacky? Any opinions?
Artificer on August 07, 2019:
reading all comments, its best to say the spade is a shard of a soldier. gambling with life... being next to death. was used by soldiers for recognition, when you couldnt find the human remains or parts.... just a helmet. Also no one mentioned the spear... which always hits first ahead of the sword. arrows... i think personally, the spade represents someone going full out head in and just hits or misses, takes the brunt impact, or glides gently. but thats just me
Steve McCarron on May 18, 2018:
I notice people keep saying "I've always thought it had a negative connotation, bad luck" and "My Gran told me it's the death card". These meanings go way back. I'm sure you can attach a new meaning to anything, even the ace of spades.
Sportgnork on December 20, 2017:
There is some info to be added. The 506th infantery regiment of the 101 airborne division used the ace of spades initially on their helmets (other regiments using other signs). But when it was found out that the ace of spades is associated with ill luck in vietnamese culture it was widely adapted to discourage NVA soldiers. Late into the vietnam war, it was also used as an anti-peace sign.
There is however one more use of the ace of spades, specially in tattoo's. Its also used by (sometimes married) white woman to signal they prefer black sexual partners.
Erin on July 24, 2017:
Aces are also used to represent the Asexual community (AKA the ace community).
Wendy Domino on August 10, 2014:
You left something important out of this article. An ace of spades can also stand for aromantic asexuality.
Asexual is often shorted to "ace" in the asexual community and an ace of spades is representative of aromantic asexuals while an ace of hearts is representative of romantic asexuals.
Richard Ricky Hale (author) from West Virginia on September 30, 2013:
Hey Teaches, thanks for dropping in. Most certainly, cards tattoos are big amongst gamblers. A gambler will take all the good luck he or she can get, leaving none behind. For the wearer, it's believed to give them good luck and fortune. Yes, that's blood, tattooed as blood that is. This ace of spade tattoos is designed with barbed wire, appearing to pierce the skin. This ace of spades is being held down by barbed wire. Thanks
Dianna Mendez on September 29, 2013:
This must be a popular tattoo with those who love to play cards. Is that blood on the one photo of the hand? Not sure about that one. Another great topic shared.
Richard Ricky Hale (author) from West Virginia on September 25, 2013:
@Bill, thanks for the comment and support. LOL Well over 300 at this time, probably 350. There's so many different tattoo symbols and I try to teach those who seek a tattoo that they have plenty of options. I've always viewed it as art.
@Kim, always great to see you. Yes, who knew? World War II saw a little of this but it was taken to extremes in the Vietnam War. Many people beg to differ, but did it play a role to boost the moral for more successful campaigns? Possibly
@Faith, my dear faith :) Appreciate ya always. Yes, the stories that date back to the Vietnam portrays the departed with the Ace of Spades. Vietnamese felt that it was a symbol of bad omen/bad luck.
@Rosemay, thanks for the comment. Great point, the Ace of Spades is a symbol of death. I don't know enough about tarot cards, would have to ask Nell. I'm sure it's a symbol of death in other cultures also.
@Btrbell, LOL, thanks for the great comment and support! I appreciate that fact. Every tattoo holds a level of symbolic value and the meanings can have a detailed history.
Randi Benlulu from Mesa, AZ on September 24, 2013:
I can never get enouigh of your hubs. Your explanations in addition to excellent representations of your topic, amaze me! Thank you!
Rosemary Sadler from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand on September 23, 2013:
Interesting to learn of its associations through history especially the Vietnam war.
I never knew it a symbol of good luck, I have always associated the ace of spades with death. My grandmother used to read the cards and it was always a bad omen if the ace of spades turned up.
Thank you for the nlightenment Ricky.
Take care and enjoy the rest of your week
Faith Reaper from southern USA on September 23, 2013:
How interesting as to the Vietnam war. I never knew of such. Although, I did always associate it with death. However, it is good to know of the other meanings too.
Up and more and sharing
God bless, Faith Reaper
ocfireflies from North Carolina on September 23, 2013:
Bill is absolutely correct. You truly have created your own sphere within the sphere, and I learn something every time. I had no idea that these cards were used as "psychological warfare." I had a difficult time deciding, but I think I like the last pic the best. I was attracted to its natural sense of antiquity.
Aces to you my friend,
PS--the prosperous kind : )
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on September 23, 2013:
I'm wondering when you'll run out of material in this series? LOL It seems to me that you have already done 100 of these and I'm willing to bet there are at least another hundred you could do. Great niche and you do it well my friend.