Erik Voskuil, who runs the wonderful Before Mario (and has written an excellent book by the same name), has one of the world’s finest collections of Nintendo stuff. Recently, though, he managed to get hold of something that was special even by his standards: a couple of packets of Nintendo playing cards from the 1950s, depicting the company’s hometown of Kyoto.
“I cannot overstate how exicited I was to find these seventy year old Nintendo cards, featuring Kyoto in the 1950s”, Voskuil wrote excitedly on August 7. “In all my years of collecting, these are the only copies I have come across.” To put that into perspective, writing on his blog, Voskuil adds that this is the first time he’s ever seen the cards—printed entirely in English—up for sale, after spending “more than twenty years of searching for vintage Nintendo items.”
Having publicly aired his hesitation over opening the packets—these are valuable, and if remained closed would retain that value—Voskuil eventually decided to open one of them and leave the other, since that would let him see what the cards were actually like inside while also keeping the second set sealed.
Sadly, his initial excitement didn’t last long.
“However, when I carefully removed part of the wrapper, I quickly discovered that all cards had been completely fused together”, he writes. “They had remained pressed together for such a long time, likely under hot and humid conditions, that the ink on all cards had made them stick together completely. The stack of individual cards had turned into one solid brick. The photo prints on the cards, that contain relatively large amounts of ink, may have contributed to this as well.”
Note that these cards are old, and so lacked any of the plastic or laminates we’d normally associate with playing cards produced in more recent decades. These ones were made entirely of paper, so when he says they have fused together, he means it. This is no longer a deck of cards, but an expensive block of paper.
Checking the second pack, Voskuil found those cards had suffered a similar fate, and while some have suggested “placing the packs in the freezer for some time”, or “putting them in a ‘sweat box’ also used by stamp collectors,” he says grimly that “these packs, unfortunately, are beyond any of these methods, and will remain fused together, forever.”
Bummer! The only solace to be found is that even the boxes are lovely, and that Voskuil at least came away with one card, since one of the two decks had a sample card attached to the back of it that could be removed.
You can see more pics of the cards, and learn more about just why they were so important, at Before Mario.