I thought I'd do another post about some vintage cards I picked up on Ebay a few months ago. I've figured out a lot more about these cards than the ones I talked about before.
Among the many menko sets that Gary Engel's latest Price Guide and Checklist (the vintage edition) lists for 1950 there are two somewhat related ones called "Animal Back" (JCM 117) and "Transportation Back" (JCM 118). I say they are somewhat related because both sets feature the same style fronts and in fact there are known to be cards with identical fronts in both sets. The card backs feature animals (for JCM 117 obviously) and cars, trains and airplanes (for JCM 118). Multiple cards use the same backs for both sets, so the backs are completely useless in uniquely identifying a card.
The fronts of these cards are very colorful. Some of them have the team name in English, some of them have the player name in English and some of them have no English at all. The player name is always on the card, but it could be in kanji or katakana (as well as English). The team name is not always on the card.
I won an auction containing 10 vintage menko cards that appear to be either from these two sets or from some other, uncatalogued related sets. It's not clear that any of these cards are actually listed in Engel at all. I think I've managed to figure out who several of the players are.
(Note - I'm including the backs in this post just to show what they look like. As I said above, the back really is no help in identifying the player.)
The first card is from the "Transportation Back" set. This is Akira Noguchi of the Dragons, the oldest of the four Noguchi brothers who played in the 1930's through the 1950's (and includes Hall Of Famer Jiro). I identified the player using the team name and the kanji in the upper right corner. I think that the katakana in the upper left says that Noguchi plays in the Central League - 1950 was the first year of the two league system.
The second card is also from the "Transportation Back" set. I don't know who this is. I think it could be Fumio Fujimura of the Tigers but I haven't figured out any of the text on the card. Engel describes a card for Fujimura in the "Animal Back" set as "RHB ankles up/red bkd" which sounds like this card:
The next six cards are from the "Animal Back" set. The first is Makoto Kozuro of the Shochiku Robins. As before, I got the player's name from the kanji and the card is not listed in either set. The katakana is for the Pacific League I think.
I've narrowed this next card down to two possibilities. The kanji is for "Kato" but the 1950 Kintetsu Pearls featured two players with that surname - Masakazu and Haruo. I don't know which of them this is. I wonder if the kanji in the yellow dot would tell me if I knew what it was.
This next card is one that helps to date the set to 1950 - the only year the Nishitetsu Clippers existed. This is Shissho Takesue. Engel lists two Takesue cards in the "Animal Back" set but this doesn't appear to be either of them.
This next card was a bit of a surprise to me when I figured out who it was - it's Hall of Fame manager Yukio Nishimoto from his playing days. Engel does not list this one either.
I don't know for sure but I have a pretty good idea who this next card is. I think the katakana at the top of the cards says "Whales" but there was no one on the 1950 Taiyo Whales with the surname "Nagamoti". What I wonder is if that's a transliteration error for Eikichi Nagamochi. The other possibility is that the last two consonants got switched and it's really (Masatake) Nagatomi.
I'm confused on this last card. I think the two kanji characters are for Chiba, as in Shigeru Chiba. But I don't understand what "Tifa" would be.
The last two cards are from sets that appear to be related to the JCM 117 and 118 sets but have a different style back. The first is this card of Torao Ooka of the Robins. As you can see, it has an animal on the back but the style is different from the JCM 117 set.
The other is this card of Kazuo Kasahara of the Hawks. The back is completely different from all the other cards.
I noticed that the last two cards have the player's name in both English and kanji. This may actually differentiate these cards from the "Animal Back" and "Transportation Back" cards as I don't know if any of them had the name listed twice in different alphabets.
I'd be curious to know if I read the kanji and katakana right and if anyone has any light to shed on these cards in general.