Monday, December 9, 2013


I noticed something kind of interesting today - a number of players have the same menko number in two of the Marukami JCM14 sets - specifically the JCM14f set (from 1963) and the JCM14g set (from 1964). (A "menko number" is a 5-7 digit number that appeared on the back of many varieties of menko cards. Whether or not they uniquely identify a card varies by set. In the case of these Marukami cards, while multiple cards might share a number, the same card front always has the same number on the back.) So this makes it a little more challenging to determine which set the card comes from.

Consider these two cards of former major leaguer Jim Marshall, who spent three years with the Dragons from 1963-65 (and would later manage the Cubs in the mid-70's and the A's in 1979).

Card #1 Front

Card #1 Back

Card #2 Front

Card #2 Back

Both cards have a menko number of "991003".  Both cards use brown ink on the back.  Both cards have the player's surname written vertically on the front followed by position  and then the team name in parenthesis (which would differentiate them from the 1962 JCM14e set which doesn't have the position and a couple of the earlier sets which had team name first followed by surname).  There are no stats on the back.  So how do you know which set it's from?

On the backs on the card, there's a line of horizontal text towards the top of the card (above the horizontal line).  On the 1963 JCM 14f cards, this text contains the player's name and team name (in parenthesis).  On the 1964 JCM 14g cards, this text is only the team name.  Gary Engel's "Japanese Baseball Card Checklist and Price Guide" lists this as the "primary difference" between these two sets.

So Card #1 is from 1963 and Card #2 is from 1964.  I had never noticed this before today - I just got Card #1 in the mail as a bonus extra item in an eBay purchase and was trying to figure out which set it came from.  And I've now discovered that I have a Kazuhisa Inao card that I thought was from JCM 14f but it's really from JCM 14g.

 (It looks like the columns of text on the back are in a slightly different order as well - the uniform number is in the fourth column in the 1963 card and the fifth in the 1964 card.)


Greg Dunn said...

I don't have any Menko cards in my collection. So to be able to see pictures of these cards in color (and not in the context of an Ebay listing) is a treat for me because of course the Engle guide has only black and white pictures and few of those at that. So thanks for sharing!

NPB Card Guy said...

I've been picking up a lot of menko lately and I'm planning on doing some posts on them in the near future so hopefully there'll be some more images you'll like soon.

You might also check out the Sutadjiamu Baseball Addict blog. This is a Japanese collector who posts a lot of cool old stuff.