Thursday, February 14, 2008

Topps Trading Card History

Topps has an insert set of cards called "Trading Card History" included with the new 2008 Topps Series 1 cards. While I normally don't pay a whole lot of attention to the US cards, the Ichiro card from this set caught my eye. While most of the cards in the set are in the style of a set from Topps' history (Hideki Okajima has a card in the style of 1965 Topps, for example), the Ichiro card is listed as simply "Japanese Baseball Card". So naturally, I had to try to figure out what (if any) particular set's design they had used. It looked like something from the 1940's or 50's, but none of the menko cards I'd seen really fit. The circle with the uniform number reminded me of some of the Karuta cards I'd seen in Gary Engel's "Japanese Baseball Card Checklist And Price Guide" and Engel's and John Gall's "Sayonara Home Run!" books. (Karuta is a type of card game.) And sure enough, the Ichiro card looks very similar to what the Price Guide refers to as the "1950 New Year Magazine Furoku Insert" set. Page 128 of "Sayonara Home Run!" shows several of the cards from this set (at least I think they're from this set - they're only identified in the book as 1950 Karuta cards). I've scanned part of that page in and included it below.

Ichiro's full name (Suzuki Ichiro) appears in the Kanji characters in the upper right part of the card. I suspect that the text at the bottom spells out "Seattle Mariners" in katakana. (Update: In the comments to this post, Deanna Rubin confirms that that's what it says.)

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