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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Japanese Hockey Goalie Wears Mask At 1936 Olympics

Some of you may know that I collect cigarette cards - the special little adverts that used to be placed within cigarette packs to act as stiffeners to stop the smokes from being crushed.

I collect aviation-themed cigarette cards - specifically from the 1930s and earlier to 1910 - the dawn of popular aviation.

Some of you might even know that I run another blog called Pioneers of Aviation ( that is based on a set of 50 aviation cards from W.H. Wills' cigarettes published in 1910. It was a base, as I have expanded it a bit to grab a bit of a broader appeal... still, despite absolutely having to print a story with Taylor Swift in it (those legs!!!), I try and keep my articles contained within the somewhat limited boundaries of 1919 and earlier.

I actually became involved in the hobby when I was lucky enough to get a magazine writing job describing the 100th anniversary of the first Canadian aircraft taking flight - the Silver Dart. Lucky, I suppose, because I have a full set of photographs taken of its construction and flight, given to me by my father-in-law, who in turn received it as a present from the wife of one of the five men who constructed that aeroplane.

When looking for more information on the Silver Dart, I came across a cigarette card (1910) and bought it as part of my patriotic duty. One card... and now I have several thousand.

So I got into the hobby accidentally on purpose. It's that addictive personality of mine that makes me want more - information and stuff. Greed, I suppose. I want, but don't always get.

I also have various cards from a few other sets that caught my fancy because the topic seemed to capture my attention, and the price was too good to pass up.

The first cigarette card I purchased, however was at an antique sidewalk sale at a mall nearby some 25 years ago... and at the time had a spare $100 to purchase a C144 1924-25 Champs Cigarettes hockey card featuring Hap Day of the Toronto St. Patricks.

Not only was it his Rookie Card, but he would later become the first captain of my beloved Toronto Maple Leafs and later coach of the only NHL (National Hockey League) team to erase a 0-3 deficit in the Finals to win 4 games to 3.

It's my lucky card, and whenever we go to a Leafs game, we always win. 9 wins, 0 losses. Trust me... you want me to go to more games.

Anyhow, I decided to look and see what I could find re: Japan in the cigarette card hobby... just looking... and found more than a few in my cigarette card price guide... but I came across something accidentally on the web - and forgive me, but I'm unsure where I took this from.

We have here a card featuring an athlete from the 1936 Winter Olympics... held in Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Bavaria, Germany. The summer games were also held in Berlin, Germany, once again allowing us to see the incredible foresight of the Olympic Committee and its awarding of games to a then-facist nation.

Anyhow, we get to see Japanese goalie Honma Teiji (本間 悌次 - surname first).

Honma was 25 years old at the time he represented Japan, as a member of the Manchurian Medical University ice hockey team.

Honma was born in Manchuria (now northeast China), which was occupied by Japan in 1936 owing to Japanese aggression in the Far East.

As you can see from the photo above and below, Honma wore glasses - and he wore a goalie mask!

For those of you who thought that Jacques Plante invented the goalie mask - no, he was the one who popularized it.

Including Honma, there were three others who wore a mask before Plante of the Montreal Canadians in 1959.

In fact... a woman wore the very first goalie mask, one Elizabeth Graham, in 1927, playing for the Queen's University women's ice hockey team, who used a fencing mask at the insistence of her father.

As well, in 1930 Clint Benedict of the NHL's Montreal Maroons wore a leather goalie mask to protect a broken nose, but discarded it as he found the nose-piece obscured his vision,

And then we have Honma and then Plante.

Honma's mask looks just like an old-school baseball catcher's mask: it was made of leather, and had a wire cage to protect the face, but since Honma wore glasses, the wire cage had two circular eyeholes designed to fit over the glasses and to be narrower than the puck.

Honma played both of Japan's two games in Group D round-robin action. He lost his first game 3–0 against Great Britain, who would go on to win the gold medal (thanks to a lot of Canadians playing on the team).

He lost his second game against Sweden, 2–0. Both of the games were played outdoors, and snowstorms caused interruptions in the game.

Japan ended up in 9th place, out of 14 teams. Honma's five goals against isn't bad at all... especially considering the Japanese attack could not score a goal.

Here's the German tobacco card featuring Honma. The back of the card is written in German, but I've translated it for you below.

collective works nr. 13
picture nr. 39
group 54

Teiji Homma, the Japanese Ice Hockey goalie, had only two opportunities to show his big equipment at the ice hockey tournament of the Winter Games.

The 1936 Olympic games is divided into two sections. 

Volume I contains: an exciting account of the magnificent Olympic events in Garmisch-Partenkirchen; a startling look at the Olympic Games since 1896; and a preview of the competition of the games in Berlin.  

The series contains 175 images, divided into the groups view pictures 53-56.

Volume II brings the report about the unique Olympic experience in Berlin via 200 images that are distributed among the five image groups of series 57-61.

Whole-sided main illustrations in colorful and black print, interspersed text drawings, statistical summaries and a beige specified four-sided map of Berlin with the sports fields and remaining arenas make the two volumes a representative sample of the outstanding sporting event

Other series featured include the (1932) X Olympic Games of Los Angeles and the III Olympic Winter Games in Lake Placid - see pictures of our work in image groups 19-23, which was the format and presentation style used for the 1936 set. 
Check the up-to-date image compilations listed on the back of our images

More card series are in the works

Okay... that was an approximation. My German translation wasn't that good, but I think you get the gist, nich wahr?

Still... it's a pretty awesome bit of Japanese history in that card that to me would have been lost if someone had not made this cigarette card. And now you know...

Andrew Joseph

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