Random: Vintage Nintendo Playing Card Opening Ends In Disaster For Collector

Nintendo Hanafuda NL
Image: Nintendo / Nintendo Life

We’ve covered Nintendo’s history a lot here at NL, and not just the video game side. At this point, it’s pretty well known that before Nintendo jumped into gaming, it was well known for producing handmade hanafuda playing cards. And if you’re a hardcore Nintendo collector, you’ll likely want to get your hands on these.

Erik Voskuil is one person who managed to get hold of two packets of these playing cards. As the owner of the Before Mario blog, and author of the book of the same name, he managed to get two 1950s packs that depicted Nintendo’s own Kyoto headquarters on the box, and they appeared to be in pretty decent condition. But Voskuil’s cards had, unfortunately, met a tragic fate. (Thanks, Kotaku!)

Understandably, Voskuil shared his excitement of getting the cards on Twitter, toying with the idea of opening them or leaving them sealed. Eventually, he decided on opening one of them to document the images of Kyoto.

As you can see in the photos, despite the boxes being 70+ years old, they don’t look bad! We’re pretty envious. But when Voskuil opened the packet, he wasn’t greeted by a deck of cards, per se — rather, a block of them.

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Because the cards had remained tightly packed together for all of these years, the ink on them had likely warmed up and caused the cards to stick together. Plus, because the cards were made in the ’50s, they weren’t the plastic-covered kind you get nowadays, meaning they were fragile

Voskuil documents the process and disappointment over on his blog, but here’s an extract from his attempt:

“…when I carefully removed part of the wrapper, I quickly discovered that all cards had been completely fused together. 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.

It is also good to note that these cards pre-date the ‘all plastic’ cards. These are made from paper, and more fragile than plastic cards.

After applying some further force to the pack, and trying to bend it, it became clear that there was a real risk of the layers of paper within the card giving way and tearing, rather than the cards coming loose. The other pack had the same problem. It was a solid brick as well.”

Despite receiving advice on how to save the cards, Voskuil is sure that the cards are beyond any help. Disappointing! But he at least hopes that he’ll find another pack to open in the future. He’s still open to suggestions on how to save these fragile paper cards, so if you can think of any, send them over to him on his blog!

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We can’t imagine the disappointment and frustration, but at least the boxes look nice! And the boxes did come with one loose card each, so that’s something.

Have you ever been disappointed by a collector’s purchase? Would you like a set of Nintendo’s hanafuda playing cards for yourself? Let us know!

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