Chaos and Kanji is the blog where I write about my adventures through Japan!

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Monday, May 22, 2017

I'm a Winner! Bromide Prize Cards Galore!

It's safe to say I lucked out with this lot. Three bromides, all premium prizes. One of them is uncataloged, even!
 First, this is JBR 9a: 1950-51 Large Black & White Marutoku 3rd Prize. Except for size, these are basically the same as JBR9. The regular cards measure 1-9/16" x 2-1/2", while this 3rd Prize version is 2-5/8" x 3-5/8". There is a 2nd Prize larger version (3-9/16" x 5") and there must be some first prize as well. Engel's guide mentions a color variation for the regular set, but not the prizes. Furthermore, there are two more sets issued by Marutoku in 1951 which are wider than JBR 9, though he doesn't mention any prize parallels.

The player above is Shigeru Chiba of the Yomiuri Giants. The top line mentions the league and team name, while the bottom line is the player's name. The backs are blank.
 Also issued in 1950, this is JBR 87c: Bromide Game 2nd Prize Premiums. The JBR 87a set has several variations in ink color - my card is black and white, but brown and green ink versions are known as well. There are also game cards with a baseball play (hit, double, triple, home run) instead of the regular text at the bottom - these variations are prize cards; a hit brought a 4th Prize, double 3rd Prize, and so on. JBR 87a measures 2-1/16" by 2-3/8".

Engel doesn't mention any 4th Prize premiums, and based on my experience I'm guessing 4th Prize was just another regular bromide. 3rd Prize are larger - 2-15/16" by 4-1/16".  The card you see above is a 2nd Prize, at 4-7/8" x 6-7/8", which makes it a good bit larger than a postcard. That would make it perfect for displaying on a kid's wall. The player above is Hiroshi Ohshita (or Oshita) of the Flyers. The text line has the player's name followed by the team nickname in parentheses.
Finally, the uncatalogued card. Does this look similar to the card above? It should, because I believe this is the First Prize (or home run) card for this release. The player is Fumio Fujimura of the Tigers, and the photo shows him diving into what I believe is home. This card is described in the 2nd Prize and regular set as well, and it's such a good photo I'm not surprised it would be used as a 1st Prize as well. It measures about 8-3/8" by 10-1/4".

Both my 2nd and 1st Prize cards from the 1950 Bromide Game set have tape/glue remnants at the top on the back. This could have been from the owner displaying it in a book or on a wall, but given how bromides were sold, these could have been attached to the packaging/display for the bromides.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Unknown Menko: Explosion Small Menkos

I haven't shown many lately, but there are several unidentified Japanese cards in my collection. Here's one of my newer ones.
Much smaller than the usual menko cards, this little guy has a color photo over an exploding background. Given what I saw when I bought this one, other cards might just have regular photos.

The backs have the same usual stuff as found on other menko, but the order is somewhat unique. The menko number is in the middle, with the janken symbol at the bottom and a robot cartoon above. I'm not sure if the other cards I saw had robots or some other art.

Given the quality and the card stock, I would guess this is post-1960.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Bigger, Longer, and Uncut: JCM 14e: 1962 Bat on Right

A prime example of the recycling of card designs comes in the Bat on Right series. Issued by Marukami from 1959-64, the seven series of cards measure 1-13/16" by 3". It's so standard as a Japanese menko that it's nicknamed "J206" after the famous T206 tobacco series. It's the most commonly seen, about the same size as T206, and there are a few back varieties. Those varieties usually come in back color variations and variations in card stock.

Several cards from these series were imported to the US, and those cards are frequently numbered with a stamp or by hand by the importer in a more traditional manner (1, 2, 3...). This is common for several sets that were brought to the States in the 1960s.

There are seven distinct series that Engel has included in his guide as complete listings; he mentions that types a-d (the earliest series) are scarcer than the last three.
 Fronts of JCM 14 have vertical kanji with the player's team and surname. 14a includes the position, while 14g includes the position but no team name on the front. In some cases, as with 14e seen here, the team name is in parentheses. Cards from all series have color photos on the front and white borders.
The backs are printed in one color, but that color can differ by series, and some series have multiple colors. The set gets its name from the large bat on the right side, with a janken symbol beneath. The top line lists the team name, while in 14f it includes the player name and team name. Various information about the player is found in the middle, and a menko number is printed at the bottom.

Menko numbers can be repeated in a series, which is very visible in my uncut sheet above. Furthermore, those numbers are repeated from series to series, and some players have the same number from series to series as well. This can make it difficult to identify cards at times, but each series has its own unique quirks to make it easier to figure out.

Here are the known back ink colors by series:

  • a: green ink only, gray or white stock
  • b: green or purple ink, gray stock
  • c: aqua, blue, or purple ink, white or gray (scarcer) stock
  • d: blue, aqua, or green ink, gray or white (scarcer) stock
  • e: brown, green (scarcer), or  occasionally blue ink, gray stock
  • f: brown ink only, gray or white (scarcer) stock
  • g: brown ink only, gray stock
While these cards define menko sets, and thus are very run-of-the-mill, having an uncut sheet of a scarcer color makes it all the better. I love uncut sheets, so this is a great addition to my collection!