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A Sherlockian Phone Card from Flip Side Co. Ltd.

A Sherlockian Phone Card from Flip Side Co. Ltd.

“… before I heard the sharp sound …”

– A Study in Scarlet (STUD)


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 was issued by the Flip Side Co., Ltd., a privately-owned company in Japan that was formed in 1983. The card is apparently promoting their Sound Members division, and was good for 50 call units. We have two caricatures of Sherlock Holmes dressed wearing deerstalkers and inverness capes and holding magnifying glasses. The card is white in color, with printing in black ink. 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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