Thursday, October 3, 2019

Masaichi Kaneda 1958 Marukami With a Weird Back

 This is Masaichi Kaneda's card from the 1958 Marukami black and white borderless set (JCM 31D).

Kaneda is Japan's winningest pitcher by far, with 400 career victories (in a league where 200 rather than 300 wins is a de facto ticket to the Hall of Fame, a standard that Kaneda himself established for entry into his own version of the Hall of Fame, the Meikyukai).  Along with Oh, Nagashima and a few others, his cards are among the keys to the tobacco era menko card sets of the late 50s and early 60s.

The card is a hand cut menko and as you can see from the scan its got a bit of the card next to it on it. The miscut carries over onto the back, which has some additional odd things of its own:

First off, the back is for the Lions, while Kaneda played for the Kokutetsu Swallows as correctly noted on the card front.  When I bought it I thought it must be a wrongback, but in his guide Engel notes that this is not unusual for this set, as the team name on the back rarely correpsonds to the player's actual team.

So its not a wrong back.  But then I looked up that number, 639712, which is how Engel lists cards in this set.  That number doesn't belong to Kaneda, whose cardback number is 333333. Rather it belongs to Yoshitaka Kosaka of the Hiroshima Carp.

So that means this is either a wrongback, or a variation, or perhaps cards from this set were issued with random backs not just in terms of team but also in terms of number. Engel lists this set as being quite rare (R3) and doesn't seem to have a complete checklist (he lists 45+ cards, indicating there are unknown ones out there) so he likely didn't have a huge number of examples to draw from when cataloging it.

Anyway, its kind of an interesting thing to find so I thought I'd put it out there!


  1. Menko backs can be odd. I have a card from the 1947 JDM 11 die cut menko set that Engel lists as being of Masataka Tsuchiya of Hosei University. And that's what the back of the card says. But the front of the card depicts someone from Meiji University! I asked Gary Engel about it and he said that was the way his card was too.

  2. There are two equivalent sets in sumo: the BC574-1957 Marukami Sensou 6 set and BB572-1957 Marukami Kimarite Black and White 6. In fact the BC574 set has the same numbers in the set: 333333 & 639712. And I have about 50 checklisted in that master set. Additionally, I’ve documented that each number can have up to three different fronts so it sounds like this was the setup Marukami took for this set. I don’t have a complete checklist either as the master set seems like it would be quite arduous to complete.