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A Japanese Phone Card with a Canine Holmes and Feline Watson

A Japanese Phone Card with a Canine Holmes and Feline Watson

“… he hauled something in as a fisherman lands a fish …”

– The Valley of Fear (VALL)


Many of the visitors to this website probably recall the days when pay phones were a common site when walking down a city sidewalk or inside a hotel lobby. You would drop a few coins into the phone, dial the number and make your call. Perhaps you would use a calling card if you were making a long distance call. In the mid 1990’s, there started to appeared prepaid calling cards by some enterprising companies, such as AmeriVox. These prepaid calling cards would generally have 50 call units that would be redeemed at a fixed ratio as the call progressed, until the card would have no remaining call units.

In Asia, prepaid calling cards are quite prevalent and frequently used to promote products or services. Public phones are equipped with card readers. A user would insert the prepaid card into the reader, make the phone call and when finished remove the card. The card reader would punch a small hole into the card, prior to its removal, showing approximately how many call units remain, if any.

The phone card pictured above almost defies description by your editor. The website printed on the card is no longer valid and there are no further clues in English to help identify the card issuer. The design is unusual with a giant fish writhing in front of a two-story house, that has arms. A canine version of Sherlock Holmes is to the left of the fish, while a feline version of Doctor Watson is on the right. The front of the card has a background that is 75% green and the remainder pink. Lettering is done in white, red, black, blue and purple. The “fine print” on the back indicates that the card is intended for use in Japan.

Your editor would be very grateful to be contacted by any Japanese Sherlockians, who could translate this and other Japanese phone cards.

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