Saturday, June 21, 2014

1994 "Perfect" Card Guide

One of the odd things about the Japanese baseball card market is that there isn't a Japanese version of Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards.  While Sports Card Magazine has been running checklists of BBM issues going back to 1991 and Calbee going back to 1973, there's no Japanese catalog of older sets.  The only comprehensive catalog of Japanese cards is the one that Gary Engel has compiled.  (It's kind of funny - Ryan and I were using the Vintage edition of Engel's guide to identify cards at Bibilo last year.  The people working at the store were very interested in the guide as they apparently had never seen it before - and if you've been to Bibilo you'd be surprised to discover there was any baseball publication that they had never seen...)  Ryan had a post devoted to this subject last year.

That's not to say that no one in Japan ever made an attempt.  Ralph Pearce had mentioned to me two Japanese publications that he had - one was called “Sports Cards Price Guide” that was published in 1996 and covered BBM, Calbee and Tomy I.D. cards from 1991 through 1995.  The other was called "J. League & Professional Baseball Sports Card Perfect Catalogue" and was published in 1994.  I recently picked up a copy of the latter guide.

I want to make a quick aside here about where I got the copy - Paul Margiott is one of what I call the "pioneers" of the American Japanese baseball card hobby.  Among other things, he co-wrote the first two editions of the Guide we all now refer to as simply "Engel".  I had bought a lot of the 1991 BBM set from him on Ebay back when I started collecting Japanese cards.  He contacted me recently about a bunch of documents and publications that he was interested in selling.  I bought a handful of items from him including this.  I think he's planning on putting the remainder on Ebay but I don't know that for sure.

The mook (magazine/book) is split up into five parts.  The first part contains a visual checklist for what the publishers considered the main card releases for 1993 - the Calbee and Kanebo J-League sets and the Calbee, Kanebo, BBM, Tomy ("Tommy") and a couple other issues (Matsui Home Run cards and the "Fantasy" Hawks set) for baseball.  By visual checklist, I mean that the mook shows the front of every every card in every one of these sets.  For BBM, that's not just the "flagship" set but the All Star, Nippon Series and Tigers boxed set as well.  Here's some (kind of crummy) scans of some of the pages in this section:

The section ends with a preview of the 1994 issues. Part 2 is a visual checklist of Calbee's J-League issues from 1987 to 1992.   Part 3 looks like it's a visual history of Japanese baseball cards from 1946 to 1992.  There's a page for each half decade that shows a variety of cards from that time period - menkos, bromides, Calbees, Nippon Ham, Mermaid Data, etc.  It's not a comprehensive list of card, just pictures of cards.  There's also a two page spread devoted to Shigeo Nagashima and Sadaharu Oh cards.  Here's a couple pages including the page for the late 1960's showing a bunch of Kabaya-Leaf cards:

I'm not entirely certain what Part 4 is dedicated to but I think it has something to do with the history of Calbee.  There's a couple pages of text that show example card backs of different Calbee Series from 1973 to 1979 along with a bunch of pictures of cards, wrappers and holders.  There are also some non-Calbee items shown which is why I'm not positive what this section is.  But the best part of this section is it has a visual checklist of the first Calbee set from 1973, all 91 cards:

The final section (Part 5) contains a "standard" card checklist and price guide, like you'd see in SCM today.  There are checklists for Calbee baseball and J-League issues from 1986 to 1992, the 1989-90 Lotte sets, the BBM issues from 1991 to 1993 (including All Stars, Nippon Series and Tigers team set), and the 1993 Tomy set.  It also includes vintage checklists (with no price guide) for the 1967 Kabaya-Leaf set, and the 1973 and 1977 Calbee sets (for 1977, it's just the "Grey Back Star Border" subset).  Here's the Kabaya-Leaf checklist page:

I assume that the handwriting on the pages is Paul's.  I'm guessing that this mook was one of many resources that was used to create the earliest versions of the Guide.

I do not know who put this publication out and I don't know why they never issued another one.  I also don't know why certain card sets were ignored altogether - Takara, NST and Yamakatsu are all absent from the mook.  But it's still a pretty cool publication.


Sean said...

That guide looks pretty interesting (and its a nice back story on who you got it from)!

Its an interesting question of why there have been so few (no?) comprehensive catalogs of Japanese baseball cards in Japanese. Kind of ridiculous that the only ones are about 20 years old. I`ll keep an eye out for any others that I might stumble across in used book stores that I sometimes browse at.

Ralph said...

I wouldn't be surprised if Japanese collectors in Japan also relied on Gary's guide as well. I'd ask Gary and/or Robert K. if they've sold many guides to Japanese collectors and if not. Otherwise, I'd guess that Sports Card Magazine (since 1993) may be a primary source of information.