View Single Post
Old 06-22-2019, 02:36 PM
nat's Avatar
nat nat is offline
Join Date: Jan 2016
Posts: 591
Default An early postcard

Here is my other recent pick up. Itís another postcard. The image is obviously generic, so no hall of famers here. The person that I bought it from thinks that it was originally included in a magazine. And it does appear to be perforated along one side. The printed text along the bottom says that it is a ďsecondary education postcardĒ, for whatever thatís worth. I havenít found anyone who has been able to read the handwriting.

But what is really interesting about this card is the date. On the back is a 15 sen stamp that dates from the 1880s to 1890s. Now, companies were not permitted to produce postcards in Japan until the Postal Act of 1900 was passed, which creates a little bit of a mystery. But I think that the answer is this: this isnít, legally speaking, a postcard. Itís a (part of) a page from a magazine Ė which just coincidentally happens to be the size and shape of a postcard, to be perforated for easy removal, and to say Ďpostcardí on it. But thatís all Ė the publisher could insist Ė just a coincidence. And if the reader of the magazine wants to rip out the page and mail it, well, thatís their business. Anyway, since the card was postally used, we can date it quite precisely. The postal cancellation says: June 1, Meiji 24. Thatís 1891.

This is very early for Japanese baseball. Horace Wilson introduced baseball to Japan only about 20 years before this card was mailed. It postdates the establishment of Japanís first organized baseball team by only 13 years. So at this point baseball in Japan was, if not in its infancy, at least in its toddlerhood. American teams wouldnít start visiting Japan for about another 15 years after this.

This is the earliest piece of Japanese baseball-themed ephemera that Iíve ever seen. The earliest known baseball menko card dates from 1897, and all of the other postcards that Iíve seen are from after the turn of the century. I asked Robert Klevens about it, and he says that, while he has books with woodblock prints that predate this, none of his cards do. Now, whether or not postcards ďcountĒ as baseball cards is a fraught and kind of pointless question. We know what they are and we know what theyíre not. If you want to count them as baseball cards, then this is likely the earliest known Japanese baseball card. If not, then itís not, but itís still a memento from a very early period of Japanese baseball history.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg postcard 4.jpg (44.2 KB, 155 views)
File Type: jpg postcard 2.jpg (30.9 KB, 151 views)
File Type: jpg postcard 1.jpg (34.3 KB, 156 views)
Reply With Quote