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Lot # 651 (of 1411)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

Circa 1871 Japanese Children's Book - Believed To Be The Earliest Known Depiction of Baseball In Japan

Starting Bid - $200.00, Sold For - $522.00

Baseball exploded in popularity in America in the nineteenth century, but few realize that the game also took root in Japan on a much smaller scale in the early 1870s. Offered is an extremely rare Japanese children's book, circa 1871, containing what is believed to be the earliest printed depiction or mention of baseball in Japan. The seventy-eight-page soft-cover book, which is a children's elementary primer, features numerous woodblock illustrations picturing a diverse array of youthful activities and pastimes. Historically, the most important scene depicts five young boys playing an early bat-and-ball game. Three of the boys are holding bats or sticks in their hand while another is seen tossing the ball to a striker or batter, with a second ball seen lying on the ground. The book is printed entirely in Japanese; however, a translation of the cover reads "Elementary School Reader." The printing on an interior page makes note that 30,000 copies of this book were printed. Although no copyright or print date is listed, the book can be approximately dated due to illustrations of contemporary coins in the back of the book; the latest of which date to 1870. The authoritative Kojien Japanese dictionary states that an American teacher, Horace Wilson, of Kaisei High School in Tokyo, first formally introduced the game of baseball and its rules to Japan in 1873. Thus the use of a woodblock print of children playing a "ball game" in this circa 1871 schoolbook follows a logical historical progression of events similar to the game's development in the United States (a children's game evolving into an adult pastime). The book (6 x 9 inches) displays heavy wear along both covers but remains tightly bound. The interior pages remain clean and free of any significant flaws. Very Good condition overall. Reserve $200. Estimate: (open). SOLD FOR $522.00


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