Mandarake is chain of antique stores in Japan. They have 11 stores stretching from Fukuoka in the West to Sapporo in the North. Sean had recommended that I check out the store in Nagoya (pictured above) as they carried a small selection of old Calbee cards. I ended up picking up a very interesting 1979 Calbee card of Yoshihiko Takahashi there but I didn't see a whole lot more that I wanted, at least not at the prices that they were selling the cards for. I had considered going by their store at Nakano Broadway when I was back in Tokyo the following week but I didn't have time to do it. (I walked by their store in Fukuoka on my way from Tenjin to Maizuru Park but it wasn't open at the time.)
There were a handful of early Calbee cards that I was kinda-sorta keeping my eyes out for while I was in Japan but I didn't really look too hard for them. Ultimately I only got one of those cards - a card of Osamu Higashio from the 1973/74 set. But after I got home I was able to find a couple through an unexpected avenue - Mandarake ships to the US!
You have to register with their site before you can order anything. There's a box labeled "CARD/Sticker" in the menu bar going across the top of their webpage and a category called "70s ～ 80s Baseball Cards" under that. This will get you to the main page for baseball cards. From here you can just start thumbing through the entries or you can select a subcategory like "Calbee 1977 Edition" to further narrow what you're looking at. I want to mention though that they have more cards from the 1970's than Calbee - I've also seen Nippon-Ham and Pino.
There's options to further narrow your search on the left hand side of the screen. You can select to only have items in stock listed (not sure why that's not the default), change the order of the cards displayed and to narrow the list to only the cards from a particular store.
You can use the search field at the top of the screen to search for a particular player or team. The search will actually take names in English which is kind of nice.
The listing for each item will tell you which store the card is in. I suppose it's possible that the card could get sold in the store before the website gets updated. One of the stores (SAHRA) I think is only an on-line store so there's little risk of something from there getting sold out from under you. The same card may have multiple listings on-line - usually the web page for a particular card will reference the other listings. The card's appearance in the list will usually also mention the other listings. (I may not be explaining this very clearly but you'll probably understand what I mean when you take a look at it.)
There's a wide variety of prices for the cards. Mandarake seems to be very discriminating in how they judge a card's condition so you can get cards very cheap that they've discounted for condition that I don't think look all that bad. I'll get to that in a minute with the cards I ordered from them.
One thing to keep in mind - if you select items from multiple stores, you're basically making a separate order from each store. You'll pay shipping for each separate order.
You have your choice of shipping methods - DHL, EMS, SAL small packet registered and AIR SP registered. I don't know how the prices scale but for the five cards I ordered the prices were around 1400 yen for DHL, 2000 yen for EMS, 690 yen for SAL and 700-ish yen for AIR SP. I chose SAL. The cards took just under three weeks to arrive - I placed the order on Monday, July 15th and the cards arrived today (Saturday, August 3rd).
Here's what I got:
First up this glorious bat flip shop of Shigeru Takada - OK, it's a staged shot but still pretty cool. Mandarake said "there are some problems" with this card's condition but it looks pretty good to me. I got it for 300 yen:
|1973 Calbee #35
|1973/74 Calbee #83
This card of Masashi Takenouchi of the Lions is listed as "damaged". It's a little beat up but not too bad compared to other cards I have from the same set. It was 300 yen:
|1973/74 Calbee #320
This card of Tsutomu Wakamatsu is also listed as "damaged". It has a couple creases but still looks pretty good for a 45 year old card of a Hall Of Famer. It was 300 yen:
|1973/74 Calbee #195
This last card is one that I've been coveting every since Sean first wrote about it. It shows Shigeo Nagashima kneeling on deck while Sadaharu Oh bats at Korakuen Stadium. It'd be a great card anyway but what makes it even better is that it's from Nagashima's retirement game in 1974. Because Mandarake said it was in "below average condition" it was just 400 yen:
|1974/75 Calbee #416
So the total for the five cards was 1700 yen. With shipping that came to 2390 yen or around $22. Not bad at all. I'll be doing this again - I almost bought a handful more cards while researching this post!