Sunday, April 23, 2023

Nintendo Playing Cards catalogue from 1975

From their earliest beginnings well over a century ago, up until the present day, Nintendo has continuously been updating its range of playing cards, responding to trends and changes in customer taste, to sales successes and failures, as well as to new ideas by competitors.

Sales material provides great snapshots of what was available at a specific point in time. In today's post, we will take a look at Nintendo's offering presented in this Playing Cards catalogue from the mid 1970s.

The full-colour brochure is printed on heavy glossy paper. The publication date was July 1975.

Nintendo Playing Cards catalogue (front and back)

It is a single sheet, that has two folds to create six pages in total. When folded close, it is about A4 in size.

Nintendo Playing Cards catalogue (inside)

The image on the front shows a little porcelain statue of a couple playing music and singing. It would have been more appropriate if they had been playing cards, but the feeling of playful social interaction and style is portrayed well.

The top of the line products are shown underneath, with the most luxurious package version (with product code NAP 1505) taking centre stage.

The font used and the lily flower symbol print on the table cloth all add to the sophisticated, classic look they were clearly going for. The visual message: this is is not about toys, but serious fun for adults.

Most of the card decks included in the brochure are variations of the typical graphic, geometrical card back designs.

The catalogue starts with the most expensive sets, with the highest quality cards in the nicest cases.

As is common for playing cards, many of the designs are created in pairs, catering for games that require two decks.

Prices range from ¥1.500 for the most expensive decks, down to ¥400 for the basic ones. Only half a year later, Nintendo would decide to increase some of the prices, triggered by the high inflation at the time.

Part of the catalogue is reserved for decks designed for children. When compared to Nintendo's card range from the 1960s (see for instance this sample book), based on the number of figure cards included in the 1975 catalogue, the core target audience has shifted back more to adults.

Seven decks with Disney figures are included, with scenes from Bambi and Lady and the Tramp.

The remaining decks are designs by Ado Mizumori (水森亜土) and four cards simply called "Girl" number 5 to 8.

The remaining space in the brochure contains some special card sets, starting with Steam locomotives of the world (世界の蒸気機関車), with a collection of 54 locomotives, for ¥1.000.

The next deck is Marie Origin's Divination Cards (マリーオリギンの カード占い) for for ¥1.500. A booklet is included with the round shaped cards, that provides instructions on how to read fortune.

The following set is called Charmant cards (ジャルマン トランプ), for ¥1.000, with a booklet that describes various card fanning and shuffling techniques and tricks.

The last special set is called Magic Card (魔法のトランプ), which sold with included blue tinted glasses for ¥1.000. More on these cards can be found in this previous post.

The back of the brochure concludes with Nintendo's contact details for the head office in Kyoto, the branch office in Tokyo and the sales offices in Osaka, Nagoya, Sapporo and  Okayama.

If you are interested in Nintendo catalogues from other periods, check out these posts about the 1930s, the 1950s and the 1980s

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