Friday, February 21, 2014
My 1987 Calbee Set and the Difficulty of Collecting Japanese Cards from the 80s
Close is I guess a relative term, I have about 3/4 of them so there are still plenty to go. I keep track of them the old fashioned way, with a hand written paper checklist that I mark off with each one I get:
Fortunately despite their rarity, the prices aren`t too steep. I pay on average between 50 and 100 yen per card, a bit more than that for some of the short printed ones (the Japanese collector term for those is レアブロック - `rare block`).
The 1987 set is probably the ideal vintage set to try to collect. Unlike some of the other pre-1990 sets it doesn`t have any near-impossible to find cards (the 1989 set in contrast is notorious for those). Also the player selection is pretty good. If you have read Robert Whiting`s You Gotta Have Wa, he wrote that shortly after 1987 so a lot of the players mentioned are in it. That includes some former MLB stars who only played in Japan for one season like Ben Oglivie (Kintetsu Buffaloes):
There is a Japanese collector who is trying to finish all the Calbee sets from the `mini card` years that lasted throughout the 1980s, right up to the 1990 set, and kept an interesting blog about it. I thought some of what he said was interesting enough to be given an English explanation, so I thought I`d mention a few of the highlights.
According to him, the easiest sets from those years to collect are, in order:
1990 Calbee - due to its small size, they only released 55 cards that year.
1986 Calbee - There are only 250 cards in total, which is a reasonably small number, and none of them were short printed. The Kiyohara rookie card and Ochiai cards sell for a bit, but otherwise there aren`t any particularly expensive cards in the set.
1987 Calbee - The cards between number 76 and 100 are short printed, but they aren`t too hard to find relative to short printed cards in other sets from the 80s. There are some parrallel cards , but he doesn`t take those into account.
The above 3 sets are the ones that collectors have the most realistic shot at being able to complete. He also mentions the 1981 set as being only somewhat harder, with more short printed cards (201 to 250, 401 to 450), but that they can still be found, while a couple of other series (1 to 50, 150 to 199) are a bit tough to find.
In contrast he puts the 1989 Calbee set as the hardest to complete. The gold border cards from 391 to 414 are incredibly hard to find, with some people expressing mixed opinion as to whether they were eveer actually available in packs at all, or just distributed as presents to people who contacted the company.
His blog has a few other interesting bits and pieces, I might introduce some more later. Anyway, for now I am content to just focus on my 1987 set!