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Published August 03, 2023 Updated August 03, 2023

Nippon Beer

Nippon Beer brewery playing cards published by Nintendo, Japan, 1960s.

1960 Japan Nintendo Breweries Add to Collection

Published by Nintendo in the late 1960s, this pack appears, at first sight, to be a standard pattern. However, a closer inspection reveals non-standard cartoon-character kings drinking beer, and red stars replacing the diamond suit. There is also a special joker celebrating Gambrinus, “the God of Beer” and a non-standard ace of spades.

Nippon Beer playing cards published by Nintendo, Japan, 1960s Nippon Beer playing cards published by Nintendo, Japan, 1960s

Above: Nippon Beer playing cards published by Nintendo, Japan, 1960s.

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By Peter Burnett

Member since July 27, 2022

I graduated in Russian and East European Studies from Birmingham University in 1969. It was as an undergraduate in Moscow in 1968 that I stumbled upon my first 3 packs of “unusual” playing cards which fired my curiosity and thence my life-long interest. I began researching and collecting cards in the early 1970s, since when I’ve acquired over 3,330 packs of non-standard cards, mainly from North America, UK and Western Europe, and of course from Russia and the former communist countries.

Russian Playing Cards

Following my retirement from the Bodleian Library in Dec. 2007 I took up a new role as Head of Library Development at the International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP) to support library development in low-income countries. This work necessitated regular training visits to many sub-Saharan African countries and also further afield, to Vietnam, Nepal and Bangladesh – all of which provided rich opportunities to further expand my playing card collection.

Since 2019 I’ve been working part-time in the Bodleian Library where I’ve been cataloguing the bequest of the late Donald Welsh, founder of the English Playing Card Society.


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