Sunday, May 31, 2015

Calbee Baseball Chips in the Wild

 When I look around baseball card websites, blogs and magazines I see a lot of pictures of baseball cards.  Pretty much any baseball card out there you can see a picture of it in an instant.

What there are a lot fewer photos of out there are baseball cards in their everday context, particularly in the time at which they were issued. I can see a picture of any 1952 Topps card, for example, but it is almost impossible to find pictures of shops in 1952 with wax packs of Topps cards available for sale.

This latter thing is much more interesting from a historical point of view but for some reason nobody ever thinks to actually take pictures like that and post them.  I`d be really interested to see what a counter display with 1952 Topps packs would have looked like back in the day. We can easily find out what the packs and boxes looked like, but what did the rest of the shelf look like?  What kind of products were being sold next to them?  Candy and the like?  Or toys?  I`m sure for people old enough to remember buying packs of 1952 Topps cards (like my dad) this sort of thing seems second nature, but for the rest of us its a bit of a mystery.  Heck, you don`t even need to go back to 1952, try finding pictures of interiors of baseball card stores from the 1980s and there aren`t that many of those on the internet either.
 Anyway, I thought I`d do my own extremely small part to alleviate this lacunae in internet image search engines by putting up some pictures of this year`s Calbee cards as they appear in shops near my place in Nagoya, for posterity`s sake. 

As you can see, they generally get put on shelves with potato chips and other snacks on them. If you live in Japan this probably seems ridiculously obvious, but I suppose for any collectors out there who have never been here this might be at least a bit interesting.  The top photo here is from a supermarket (AEON), while the lower two are from convenience stores.  They all charge 98 Yen per bag, plus tax.  The bottom photo is my favorite display, not only are the bags sold on the candy shelf rather than the chips shelf (some convenience stores do that, others don`t, I am not sure why), but they also have a cool hand-written sign for them.  Its kind of a nice touch.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Baseball Card Liberation Front (BCLF) Strikes its First Blow! 1964 Topps Ernie Banks Freed in Daring Raid on Graded Card Holder

Above is a 1964 Topps card of Ernie Banks, the great Cub who recently left us for that doubleheader in the sky.

This is not a happy baseball card.  He is trapped in there, entombed by some Ebay dealer who sent him off to Beckett a few years ago to be graded.  He needs help.  He needs to run free.

One of my collecting goals is to have all my cards grown free-range, so I have always felt particularly bad about poor old Mr. Cub, trapped as he is in there. 

Therefore I am happy to announce that the much anticipated Baseball Card Liberation Front (BCLF) has struck a first blow against the Yankee imperialist dogs (er not those ones in the Bronx but more generally) in a minutes-long operation that succesfully released our brother Banks from the clutches of an evil Beckett card holder.

The operation began at 13:00 hours, the freedom fighter  using a single pair of rusty 100 Yen shop plyers (fellow freedom fighters take note: if you are planning a similar operation the rust is optional).

The struggle for freedom began where the card holder least expected it, in the upper right hand corner so as to avoid any risk to the innocent hostage held captive below:

The initial snip took that corner off nicely

We then moved on to the opposite corner, again being careful to keep as far away from Mr. Banks as possible

Finally, with an additional blow struck against the centre, an opening was created along the top ridge:

Removing the piece of paper with the condition (Good) we plunged the plyers deep into the belly of the capitalist machine of oppression (figuratively speaking of course):

The mission ran into a slight hiccup at this point as, instead of popping the two halves of the holder apart as envisaged, the outward pressure just broke the top part in half, leaving the hostage precariously nestled beneath its jagged edge

Undaunted, a bit of delicate pruning brought one corner of the card completely out of its prison for the first time in probably about a decade:

The rest of him soon followed.  1964 Topps Ernie Banks: the BCLF proudly declares you a free man (card)!

Among the privileges this entitles you to is the inalienable ability to be held in the hand of an actual human being as your creators intended for you back in 1964.

This was a sort of test operation, with the 1964 Topps Banks card in part chosen because being in Good condition there was a relatively low risk of any further damage being done.  We got him out safely.  Be warned, graded card holders, emboldened by our success in this battle we intend to move up the value chain and onto other, potentially more difficult to destroy, holders like the PSA one currently oppressing my 1964 Topps Pete Rose.

The war has begun.