The Unboxing of a Vintage Nintendo Resulted in Tragedy
Two packs of 70-year-old baseball cards did not age as well as hoped.
Erik Voskuil, who runs the fantastic Before Mario (and has written an excellent book by the same name), has one of the world’s best Nintendo collections. He recently acquired something unusual even by his standards: a couple of packets of Nintendo playing cards from the 1950s depicting the company’s hometown of Kyoto.
“I cannot express how thrilled I was to discover these seventy-year-old Nintendo cards depicting Kyoto in the 1950s,” Voskuil wrote on August 7. “These are the only copies I’ve ever seen in all my years of collecting.” To put that in context, Voskuil writes on his blog that this is the first time he’s seen the cards—printed entirely in English—for sale after “more than twenty years of searching for vintage Nintendo items.”
I cannot overstate how exicited I was to find these seventy year old Nintendo cards, featuring Kyoto in the 1950s. In all my years of collecting, these are the only copies I have come across. On top of that, they are still sealed! Which begs the question… to open or not?! https://t.co/Hn05Z7EggQ pic.twitter.com/NbH4Lh8HaW
— Beforemario (@beforemario) August 6, 2022
After publicly expressing his reluctance to open the packets—these are valuable, and if left closed would retain that value—Voskuil eventually decided to open one and leave the other, allowing him to see what the cards were like inside while keeping the second set sealed.
Unfortunately, his initial excitement did not last long.
“However,” he writes, “when I carefully removed part of the wrapper, I quickly discovered that all cards had been completely fused together.” “They’d been pressed together for so long, most likely in hot and humid conditions, that the ink on all of the cards had completely adhered to each other.” The pile of individual cards had solidified into a solid brick. The photo prints on the cards, which contain relatively large amounts of ink, may have also contributed.”
Because these cards are old, they lack any of the plastic or laminates that we associate with playing cards produced in recent decades. These are entirely made of paper, so when he says they’ve fused together, he means it. This is no longer a deck of cards, but rather a costly piece of paper.
When Voskuil opened the second pack, he discovered that the cards had suffered a similar fate, and while some have suggested “freezing the packs for some time” or “putting them in a’sweat box’ also used by stamp collectors,” he says grimly that “these packs, unfortunately, are beyond any of these methods, and will remain fused together, forever.”
Bummer! The only consolation is that the boxes are lovely, and Voskuil did get one card because one of the two decks had a sample card attached to the back that could be removed.
More images of the cards, as well as information about why they were so important, can be found at Before Mario.