Saturday, March 9, 2024

1951 "Baseball Tat-oos Book" featuring Robin Roberts and Joe DiMaggio

Things can exist in the hobby for decades, yet never pierce my veil of collecting awareness! I discoverd this slim book of "tat-oos" via an overseas site in late 2023 and am fascinated by how well it survived. That ink still looks fresh off the presses.

I believe this pose, familiar to many Philly fans, ended up on its cover following an NL Pennant run by their "Whiz Kids," which made that young ace Roberts an eye-catching choice for kids who followed baseball.

"Tat-oos" behave like most other skin transfers and this book spreads 16 images across four pages. Hold one of them against a moist surface, often a licked forearm, and its ink would leave an image that lasted until scrubbed off.

Transfer images from this book include Joe DiMaggio finishing his swing and others that suggest Yankee uniforms, which supports my hypothesis it came from that 1950 World Series matchup (Philly vs. New York). The small "Japan" text identifies its point of manufacture.

If you recognize any other players or photos, let me know in the comments!

This tat-oos line covered a range of subjects and 1951's baseball book stands apart for its two identifiable stars, Roberts and DiMaggio. Perhaps that clarity also led to complaints, since an alternate version's figures look more generic.

You can find at least two other sport-themed books for sale on eBay.

Prominent licensing from "Harvey Famous Name Comics NYC" appears on similar books for Sad Sack comics, who debuted in 1944 and ran for decades after WWII. These transfers focus on the military labors of its title character.

I bet transfer picture books showed up in a whole range of stores from that era, considering how many survived to the present day.

I find this actor book most intriguing, given its star power and high level of detail on transfers. The presence of James Dean, who died in 1955, implies a release before that year.

This'd be a solid addition to any Hollywood star collection and #5 from its sheet of actresses appears to be Audrey Hepburn, best remembered today for Roman HolidayBreakfast at Tiffany's, and Sabrina. Her own career took off in 1953, which helps date this book to between then and James Dean's death.

Value: Intact transfer books start about $5 and go up, depending on their subject (example "1950s japan transfer picture book" search).

Fakes / reprints: I bet these prove too obscure to fake, since cheap ink transfers hold less fascination for today's young buyers.


Fuji said...

These are really cool! I have one or two of the non-sports ones that I found in an online store. Never knew they even made the sports ones.

Matthew Glidden said...

A pleasant surprise for me, too! Will keep eyes open for others, since it appears they printed plenty. Whether or not they were "made in Japan," I suspect an American company helped get that product off the ground, given its emphasis on USA culture.