Saturday, September 1, 2012

Nintendo Playing Cards (early 1960s)

Today we will take a look at what for a long time has been Nintendo's core business: playing cards. With over a hundred years of company history in this area, there is a lot to show and tell.

We will start with the playing cards sets below, that are some of my favourite packs. I really like these because of their graphic design.

Nintendo Playing Cards No 22, 160 and 50 (ca 1960)

Nintendo used numbers to label the many variations of cards in their portfolio, and these numbers are displayed prominently on the packaging. The playing cards shown here are numbers 22, 160 and 50.

Nintendo Playing Cards No 160

These playing cards are difficult to date. There is no copyright notice or other date mark. I place them around the start of the 1960s, the number 160 possibly even before that.

All three contain a Western style deck, with 52 cards and two or three jokers.

The ace of spades card usually features the Nintendo brand name.

Nintendo sold playing cards in all sorts and sizes, from mini to oversized.

Nintendo Playing Cards No 50

Here is one of the smaller packs, with cards from around 65 by 46 mm.

As you can see from these card packs, there was no single Nintendo brand logo used consistently. For a history on Nintendo's logo, check out this previous post.

This particular pack is still sealed with a tax stamp.

Playing cards were levied with tax in Japan. This stopped in 1989, when a general consumption tax was introduced.

Nintendo Playing Cards No 22

The number 22 is what you may call a regular size pack of cards. I love the design of this one in particular. The use of colors and typography works really well, I think.

Around 1960, Nintendo playing cards were sold primarily in Japan, but also abroad, be it in limited numbers.

For this purpose, an international company was set up by Nintendo, called the Nintendo Playing Card Co., Ltd.

This company name was also used for the Western style cards sold in Japan.

If you want to learn more about Nintendo's playing cards, check out this previous post:


  1. I read in History of Nintendo book that sometimes around 50s, 60s etc., Nintendo used to provide some western casinos (USA, Italy...) with cards. It would be fascinating to find something about this first western Nintendo "landing"...

    1. Yes, it would be really cool to find some of those cards. Or other info about them.