December 7

I don’t normally do a special post for today but I actually have a few cards which are relevant. While I normally post things as soon as possible to acquisition, I decided to sit on these.

This pair I got almost a year ago. I occasionally search for “California” when I’m on COMC since grabbing random state cards is something that I enjoy doing. One time when I did this* I ran into a card of a ship named “California.” It was a nice-looking card so I clicked out to see the rest of the checklist and realized that I had to get a couple of them

*Probably over two years ago in the midst of COMC’s Covid shipping woes.

These are from the 1939 set of John Player and Sons Modern Naval Craft. I didn’t need the complete set but these two were no-brainers for me since they were both a part of the Pearl Harbor attack. The USS California was sunk during the attack while the Akagi is one of the Japanese carriers which launched the planes.

The California was subsequently raised and repaired and took part in the battles for the Philippines even though the US had switched to more carrier-based warfare. Akagi meanwhile was one of the Japanese carriers that the US sunk at the Battle of Midway.

*The checklist also has a couple US carriers which took part in Midway.

A brief look at the backs to note that the California is due for the upgrades which it would get as part of its post-attack repairs. It also intrigues me that there’s no reference to how Japan has been waging war in the Pacific since 1931—something I’ve always been a little bugged with when we we use the “pre war” designation.

I picked this card up maybe nine months ago. This is from Gum Inc.’s 1941 War set which is very similar to the 1938 Horrors of War set except that it’s all about US/Allied bravery. The artwork is similarly wonderful with all the different colors in both the sky and the water. Considering that it depicts at least 6 dead bodies it’s also completely bloodless.

As for what it depicts, the story doesn’t seem to exist. Dorie Miller’s is closest but doesn’t match the details on the back of the card. The key difference is that this card is specifically about a 5-inch gun which requires at least a dozen men to operate rather than the machine gun Miller used. A shame since Miller’s story and his subsequent Naval Cross would’ve made for a very nice card.

This set is listed as a 1942 set but also looks like it was issued in multiple series over the year.  Despite the 1941 copyright date, I can’t image that the earliest cards came out in 1941. Meanwhile the last card of the set has a 1942 copyright and refers to a two-month siege of Stalingrad in the fall of that year.

Not exactly what I’d call “fun” cards but I find them interesting since they represent how trading cards can end up intersecting with history. This really is the appeal of a lot of cards from this era. In many ways every card has a story and finding that story is one of the things I most enjoy doing.

Author: Nick Vossbrink

Blogging about Photography, Museums, Printing, and Baseball Cards from both Princeton New Jersey and the San Francisco Bay Area. On Twitter as @vossbrink, WordPress at njwv.wordpress.com, and the web at vossbrink.net

3 thoughts on “December 7”

  1. I’ve seen the California on cards before, but didn’t know that anyone had ever done one for the Akagi. Also, it was nice to see someone do a themed post for this date; I believe that this was the only one that I saw this year.

  2. I’m a fan of anything trading card and WWII related. Totally not card related… but I’m fascinated that the Navy was able to repair the sunken ship and return it into battle.

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