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1967 Kabaya-Leaf Japanese Baseball Near-Complete Set (101/105)
Starting Bid - $1,000, Sold For - $4,444
Presented is an exceptional near-complete set of 1967 Kabaya-Leaf Japanese baseball cards, consisting of 101 of the 105 cards, and missing only the exceedingly rare short-print Giants cards (# 2 Watanabe, 3 Jonouchi, 8 Takahashi, and 17 Yoshida) for completion. The 1967 Kabaya-Leaf set, which was the only baseball-card set ever produced by the company, is not only the most important Japanese baseball-card set ever issued, but also one of the rarest. To the best of our knowledge only two complete 105-card sets have ever been assembled (one of these sets appeared as Lot #750 in REA's 2010 auction and realized $17,625). Research indicates that these cards were imported into the United States and offered to collectors by mail for a number of years after their publication, with the official distribution probably ending sometime in the early 1970s. The production of the Kabaya-Leaf set was a watershed event in the history of Japanese baseball cards due to the fact that its design was a direct departure from earlier Japanese cards. Borrowing heavily from the formats used by Topps in 1958 and 1959, the set featured two different-style fronts and was the first Japanese baseball issue to feature detailed biographical information and statistics for the respective player on the back of each card. Interestingly, the set only featured players from six of the twelve Major League teams in 1967 (Giants, Dragons, Tigers, Lions, Hawks and Flyers); however, the six teams represented just happened to be the top three teams from each league in 1966. Luckily for collectors, among the players featured in the set are some of the greatest players in Japanese baseball history, many of whom are in the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame. Included here are Sadaharu Oh, the fabled all-time home-run leader; Isao Harimoto, the all-time hit leader; Kazuhiza Inao, one of the league’s greatest pitchers, who won thirty or more games on four separate occasions; and Shigeo Nagashima, a five-time MVP and one of the most popular players in history. The compilation of this near-complete set is a tremendous achievement (despite missing the four short prints) and it is further distinguished by its remarkably consistent high-grade condition. Fifty-two cards grade Nr/Mt, twenty-five grade Ex-Mt, and twenty-four grade Ex. Centering is responsible for many of the downgrades, a common problem for this issue. All the cards are bright and crisp with brilliant colors, flawless registration, perfect white borders, strong corners, and clean reverses. This is an incredible assembly of this rare foreign issue which would be a worthy addition to any postwar baseball, sample card, or Japanese baseball collection. This set has been personally consigned by a pioneer collector who was actively collecting when these cards were issued in the 1960s! Total: 101 cards. Reserve $1,000. Estimate $2,000++. SOLD FOR $4,444
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