Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Ads for Nintendo playing cards from 1957

Vintage magazines often provide interesting glimpses into the past.

In this case they also include a little bit of Nintendo history, as we will see.

The magazines shown here are three editions of Sunday Mainichi (サンデー毎日). Sunday Mainichi is a weekly Japanese publication that first appeared in 1922 and still exists to this day.

These particular copies all date from 1957, a mere twelve years after the end of the second world war.

During this time Japan's post-war economic revival had started. It was the overture to the economic boom that would happen in Japan in the 1960s.

Wages were on the rise and modern appliances and electronics became within the reach of an increasingly large group of people.

This is also reflected in the advertisements in these magazines.

Very desirable, but relatively expensive, were the new transistor radio's.

Japan was at the forefront of miniaturisation of electronics. This Sony TR-63 was the smallest transistor radio in the world and Sony's first export product.

Another example of Japanese manufacturing expertise - and also on the wanted list of almost every Japanese family - was the 35 mm pocket camera, like this one from Olympus (オリンパス).

But the number one must-have item in the 1950s was a television set. Regular broadcasts started in Japan in 1953. Interest was boosted even more when live sports events were added to the programs in 1954, including the most popular sports sumo wrestling and baseball.

It's no surprise then that the magazines from this time feature many advertisements for television sets.

The standard screen size at the time was 14 inch. Small by today's standards, but still very much a luxury item with a hefty price tag at the time. Most people that bought these would pay in weekly or monthly instalments.

In the 1950s, Walt Disney's animated movies were very popular around the world, including Japan. Bambi is featured prominently on the page with movie announcements.

From 1959 Nintendo would benefit greatly from the popularity of Disney after securing a licensing deal to use the Disney characters on its playing cards.

However, in 1957 Nintendo still was a relatively small playing card company. It did already have a quite effective national distribution system and used advertisements like the ones in these magazines to build its brand recognition and drive sales.

The below ad for Nintendo's Western style playing cards, or 'trump' (トランプ), appeared in the January 6 1957 edition of Sunday Mainichi. The ad claims that playing these cards will make you smile and also wishes the readers a happy new year (賀正 1957).

The next one is from July 28 1957 and advertises the traditional Hanafuda ('flower cards'). This was Nintendo first product and they sell it to this day. Nintendo offered various series of Hanafuda. The one featured in this ad was the most popular one: 'Japan's number one, then and now' (昔も今も日本一). It is called Daitōryō (大統領), which means 'president'. The Daitōryō cards are recognisable by a picture of Napoléon on the front.

This last one shown here is from September 29 1957.

Although playing cards are usually associated more with indoor activities in the dark wintry days, the ad proposes to take them on a bike tour in the Summer: "great fun during hikes" (楽しいハイキングに).

No comments:

Post a Comment