Sunday, April 14, 2019

1946(?) Menko Uncut Sheet!

 Another cool thing I picked up on Yahoo Auctions recently arrived in the mail yesterday, an uncut sheet of baseball menko!

I love these cards, the caricatures are quite amusing and colorful (very similar to these cards I picked up a few years ago, but not the same set).

Does anybody out there have any info on these?  They depict players from NPB teams rather than college players, they have the team names on the back:
The teams are:
Tigers (Tora Gun)
Giants (Kyoujin Gun)
Gold Stars (Kinboshi Gun)
Taihei (Taiheiyou?)

I am tentatively dating this to 1946 since the card on the upper right side is the "Gold Stars" team (Kinboshi), because the Daiei Stars went by that name in the 1946 season only. Also the one in the lower right is using the kanji that were (I think!) briefly used as a nickname for the Nishitetsu Senators (this is a tentative conclusion I am not 100% sure I'm right about this).  The other team names are easier to figure out and square with what they were called in 1946 (and the late 40s in general).

I'm curious about the caricatures on the front, they all have distinctive faces and I am curious if they are modelled after actual players.  They are quite similar to this similar set here which did feature caricatures of players who were identified by name on the back.  This set though doesn't list any names and it doesn't have any of players like Betto who are instantly recognizable so I'm not sure but hope to look into it more.

Anyway, this is a kind of cool find (and I actually got more than one of these as it was a "dead stock" purchase!  So if anyone wants to trade let me know!)


  1. Awesome! I’ve seen quite a few of those. They look like some 1946 Kagome/Hoshi Gangu sumo menko I have and assumed those baseball ones were from 1946-1949. Cool find!

    1. Cool, I've seen (in fact, I own) some Sumo ones that are quite similar, die cut caricatures. Gotta love them. If Calbee or BBM had any imagination they'd be doing retro sets based on designs like these!

  2. I have some similar menkos from around the same time - I don't think they represent actual players. One of your cards (bottom row, second from the left) looks like an umpire.

    1. Nice, yours does look quite similar. Now that you mention it, that guy is an umpire (even though the back of the card says Taihei Gun, I guess the images on the front are not connected to the team names on the back).

    2. Yeah, it looks like on a lot of these kinds of menko the backs are totally unrelated to the fronts. I have a card from a catologed set (JDM 11) that shows a player from Meiji of the Tokyo Big Six collegiate league on the front but the information on the back of the card is for Masataka Tsuchiya of Hosei! I wondered if it was some sort of error card but when I asked Gary Engel about it he said all the cards he'd seen were like that.

    3. Oh that is interesting! I guess they just weren't overly concerned with detail in the late 40s, which in the historical context makes some sense!

  3. I'm out of my league when it comes to this stuff... but this uncut sheet is gorgeous. Love the facial expressions and the artwork.