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PRIMERO, a game of cards, so called from a situation in the game. He who holds the prime (primero), that is a sequence of the best cards and a good trump, is sure to be successful over his adversaries; hence its denomination Primero, Prime, and Primavista were one and the same game. Primero appears to have been one of the earliest games at cards played in England, and continued to be the most fashionable game throughout the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI., Mary, Elizabeth, and James. In the carl of Northumberland's letters relating to the powder-plot, we find that Josceline Percy was playing at primero on Sunday, when his uncle, the conspirator, called on him at Essexhouse. In the Sydney Papers there is an account of a quarrel between Lord Southampton, the patron of Shakspere, and one Ambrose Willoughby, on account of the former persisting to play at primero with Sir Walter Raleigh and another, in the Presence Chamber, after the queen had retired to rest. Shakspere speaks of Henry VIII. playing at primero with the duke of Suffolk. One of the dialogues at the end of Minshcw's Spanish Dictionary illuslrates the method of playing this game; many of the terms of which are also detailed in one of Sir John Harington's epigrams, in which ho describes Mho Story of Marcus's Life at Primero.' It is uncertain whether this game is of Spanish or Italian origin. Daines Barrington and Mr. Bowie (Archaoiogia, vol. viii., 133-151) were of opinion that it is of Spanish origin; but Berni's Capitoh del Gioco della Primeira affords proof that it was at least commonly played in Italy at the commencement of the sixteenth century. (Nares's Glossary; Singer's Researches into the History of Playing Cards, 4to., Lond., 1816, p. 244-256.)

Note - this article incorporates content from The Penny Cyclopaedia of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge (1840)

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