Sunday, May 31, 2020

Yahoo Auctions Japan is a lot Busier Now than it was in 2013

I was browsing through some of my old blog posts the other day when I stumbled onto this one from 2013.  In that post I compared the number of Calbee cards from the 1970s which were available on Yahoo Auctions to how many Topps cards from the 1950s were available on Ebay in an attempt to get a rough idea of the relative abundance of each.

Looking back at the post seven years later what really caught my attention were how few listings there were for 1970s Calbee cards back then compared to now.  I hadn't really sensed any trend towards more Calbee cards being available, but perhaps that is because it happened too gradually to be noticeable.

To compare, I just made this table with the listings I found for Calbee cards from 1973 to 1977 back in 2013, and then how many I could find today (June 1st 2020).  The numbers have gone up a lot.

Calbee Year
Listings in Sept 2013
Listings in June 2020
Percent increase

I have to mention an important caveat though.  To check the numbers today I just took the shortcut of looking at how many listings there were under the category for that year (which has problems that I've written about before).   Back in 2013 according to what I wrote I manually searched through the whole site using keyword searches. I don't remember why I chose that cumbersome method, its possible they just didn't have the categories back then since I think if they had them I would have used them (I don't remember when they introduced categories for individual card years, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was 2014 since there are no categories from 2015 onward).  Anyway, the different methodology I used creates a problem since my 2013 method might have undercounted  (by missing cards that didn't turn up in my keyword searches) while my current method might overcount (by including cards erroneously categorized), which could mean the changes aren't as drastic as they look in the above table.

That noted, I think its probable that a large part of the change is due to more cards actually being available rather than just the result of methodological error.  And it is quite a bit.  Calbee cards from 1976 and 1977 (which are comprised of more than one set) in particular seem to be way more abundant on Yahoo Auctions now than they were then.

I'm kind of curious about why this is.  Yahoo Auctions wasn't new in 2013, it had been around for years and was well established at that point, so it wasn't like it was a brand new market that had just jumped onto the scene and there were fewer cards simply because people hadn't taken it up yet.

One possibility (which I like) is that collecting vintage Calbee baseball cards has become more popular in Japan over that time and this is a result of that.  I do get the feeling this is the case, while I hadn't noticed the trend towards more cards being listed, I have noticed a trend towards more people bidding on cards (and bidding them higher) than they used to.  The higher prices may also be attracting more people to putting cards up for sale than used to be the case.

Another related possibility is that brick and mortar store dealers are putting more cards up than they used to.  The number of such shops has thinned out a bit (at least here in Nagoya) in recent years, and probably Yahoo Auctions has played a big role in that.

Anyway, whatever the reason its kind of cool to see that there are more vintage Calbee cards available now than there used to be.  If I'm still maintaining this blog in 5 years I'll probably revisit this post to see what the numbers are like then!


  1. Stateside it appears that the hobby is entering another bubble, I wonder if something similar is happening in Japan.

    1. I'm kind of wondering that too. I hate to admit it but I was hoping the prices of cards would go down and I could score some deals, but I'm getting outbid on stuff all the time these days (well, I've also been keeping my bids a bit in check too, but still I'm losing on stuff that I probably would have easily won a year ago).

    2. My gut is telling me it might be some weird combination of stir-craziness, wanting on the part of some people to celebrate sports in some fashion and perhaps because the government distributed (or is distributing?, I'm unsure if people have actually gotten the:) 100,000 yen to registered citizens.

    3. Its an interesting question (maybe for a blog post) because the situation in Japan is way different from the US right now. People haven't been locked down here like they are there, so people's lives haven't been as disrupted and there is way less stir craziness I think.

      Also, the economic impact has been way softer here. Japan is in a recession now, but its nothing like the US which is more like in a depression with 10s of millions losing their jobs. Job losses here have been very light in comparison, so most people still have incomes.

      We haven't gotten our 100,000 Yen payments yet, not sure when they'll be doing that (the application forms have been sent out though!)

  2. Ebay listings:

    1973 Calbee: 6
    1974 Calbee: 16
    1975 Calbee: 17
    1976 Calbee: 20
    1977 Calbee: 1

    N.B. virtually all of those cards are of Oh. (And most of them on absurdly over-priced BINs, but that's ebay for you.)

    1. Ouch. Looks like collecting Calbee sets via Ebay would be about a 1,000 year project.

  3. It's nice to see increased listings. Hopefully this is also happening here in the United States. My dream would be to star seeing Japanese baseball cards make a regular appearance at card shows here in my area.

  4. Interesting post. I have noticed a lot less sumo Menko cards recently actually thank 5-10 years ago. Very few new ones pop up, but I do notice a lot more Sumo related auctions in general. There never seems to be a limit on the amount of interesting items that are up for auction.

    1. That is interesting. My post is specifically about Calbee cards from the 1970s and not baseball cards in general, so its possible this only applies to them. Baseball menko for example (which I follow closely) aren't showing up very much these days.