Thursday, April 19, 2012

Nippon Ham

I wrote about the Yamakatsu sets from the late 1970's a couple weeks ago.  Yamakatsu was not the only non-Calbee maker of baseball card sets in that time period.  There were two other companies of note - NST and Nippon Ham.  I plan on talking about NST in the near-future but today I'll concentrate on Nippon Ham.

Nippon Ham (and I believe this is the same Nippon Ham that owns the Fighters but I don't know that for sure) issued two separate sets - one in the 1975-76 time period and the other in the 1977-79 time period.  The cards were distributed in boxes of "Homerun Sausage".  The first set is the better known of the two (and better checklisted).  There are 351 known cards from this set.  They are slightly narrower in width but longer in height than "normal" cards - 2 1/4 inches by 3 3/4 inches.  These cards are distinctive for their time by a half inch color border on the bottom of the front of the card with the team logo on it - most cards from this era have "pure card" fronts with either borderless or simple white bordered photos with little to no writing on them.  There are multiple cards for many players (including 19 for Koichi Tabuchi and 15 for Sadaharu Oh) so there are significantly fewer than 350 players represented in the set.  Here's a couple examples:

Hiroaki Inoue

Tsutomu Wakamatsu
The second set is not as well checklisted.  As of the 7th Edition of Gary Engel's "Japanese Baseball Card Checklist and Price Guide", there were only 161 known cards from this set.  As with the first set, there are multiple cards for many players (including 12 for Oh).  The cards are the same size as the first set, but the fronts lack the design of that set - this set has a "pure card" design that make it easily confused at a glance with the 1978 Yamakatsu JY6 set.  Here's a couple of examples:

Yutaka Fukumoto

Tsuneo Horiuchi
The photography in these two sets isn't anywhere near as nice as that in the Yamakatsu sets, but I like these sets anyway.  They are difficult to come by - I lucked in on a lot on eBay once (in fairly poor shape - there's magic marker writing on the backs of a couple of the cards) but I don't see them offered very often.

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