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Friday, February 16, 2024

Nintendo 1950s Takarazuka cards with box

A couple of years ago, I reported about a set of vintage Nintendo playing cards from the 1950s, that had attracted my special interest. They were for the Takarazuka Revue, a Japanese theater company, and represented some of the earliest (possibly the earliest) Nintendo trump (トランプ) decks with a marketing purpose.

It is a beautiful set of cards, with full color pictures. That previous post can be found here.

Unfortunately, the deck that I had found at the time was missing the box. But that has since been corrected. Recently a version with box came into my possession, and you can see it here.

The box turned out to be just as nice as the cards themselves. It features branding for both Nintendo and the Takarazuka company.

On the two large sides of the box, the Nintendo and Takarazuka names are presented woven into each other.

The bottom and top of the box says Takarazuka Revue in Japanese kanji (宝塚歌劇).

The box lid mentions that the cards are made by the Nintendo Playing Card company.

The cards came with a booklet with card playing rules.

The box has a cut-out in the front, showing the special picture cards inside.

The backs of the cards included in this box are red. This red back set nicely complements the blue backed set I had found previously.

The red and blue cards have the same back design, with the TOC (Takarazuka Opera Company) logo in the center.

The deck includes the well-known Nintendo ace of spades, and two joker cards. One of the joker cards shows a picture of one of the Takarazuka stars.

A further twelve cards show pictures of Takarazuka stars; on the jack, queen and king cards of all four suits.

When comparing the blue and red decks, eight of these cards show identical pictures, but four are different.

In the image below, the four cards in the top row are from the red deck, and the four in the bottom row are from the blue deck.

Two of these differences are a reshuffling of the same picture, for instance the red back king of spades shows the same picture as the blue back jack of hearts. And two cards are really different, showing a star which does not appear in the other deck.

Most likely, these blue and red deck were produced at different times, and the included stars changed to reflect the changing roster of performers active at the Takarazuka Revue.

For more background information on this deck, check out this previous post.

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