We have written a lot about Nintendo’s history here in NL, and not just about the video game side. At this point, it’s pretty common knowledge that before Nintendo started gaming, it was known for producing handmade hanafuda playing cards. And if you’re a hardcore Nintendo collector, you’ll probably want to get your hands on this one.
Erik Voskuil is a person who managed to get hold of two packs 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 his hands on two 1950s packs that depicted Nintendo’s own Kyoto headquarters on the box, and they appeared to be in pretty good shape. Unfortunately, Voskuil’s cards had suffered a tragic fate. (Thanks, Kotaku!)
Understandably, Voskuil shared his excitement about getting the cards on Twitter, toying with the idea of opening them or leaving them sealed. Finally, he decided to open one to document the statues of Kyoto.
As you can see from the pictures, despite the boxes being 70+ years old, they don’t look bad! We’re quite jealous. But when Voskuil opened the pack, he was greeted not necessarily by a pack of cards, but by a block.
Because the cards had been packed tightly all these years, the ink on them had probably warmed up and the cards had stuck together. Plus, because the cards were made in the ’50s, they weren’t the plastic-covered kind you get these days, meaning they were fragile.
Voskuil documents the trial and disappointment on his blog, but here’s an excerpt of his attempt:
“…when I carefully removed some of the wrapper, I soon discovered that all the cards had completely fused together. They had been compressed for so long, probably under hot and humid conditions, that the ink was on all the cards making them The pile of loose cards had become one solid stone.The photo prints on the cards, which contain a relatively large amount of ink, also contributed to this.
It is also good to know that these cards are older than the ‘all plastic’ cards. These are made of paper and more fragile than plastic cards.
After applying some more force to the suit and trying to bend it, it became clear that there was a real risk that the layers of paper in the card would collapse and tear, rather than the cards coming loose. The other package had the same problem. It was also a solid brick.”
Despite advice about saving the cards, Voskuil is sure that the cards can no longer be saved. Disappointing! But at least he hopes he’ll find another package to open in the future. He’s still open to suggestions for preserving these fragile paper cards, so if you can think of one, send them to him on his blog!
We can’t imagine the disappointment and frustration, but at least the boxes look nice! And the boxes came with a separate card each, so that’s something.
Have you ever been disappointed by a collector’s purchase? Want a set of Nintendo’s hanafuda playing cards for yourself? Let us know!