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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!


  1. I love uncut sheets. That one is in really nice condition!

    I always found it odd that Engel would refer to the larger rectangular type menko as "Tobacco Type." Other than the thinner paper stock used which is similar, the size is quite a bit larger than an American T206 card which is only 1 7/16" x 2 5/8" vs the larger 1 13/16" by 3" for the Japanese. In fact, the early rectangular menko (In baseball the early JCMs, in sumo the M-series) are much more similar to an American tobacco card as their size is 1 1/4" x 2 9/16". Not to mention they weren't issued with tobacco products. But I do appreciate his comparison to distribution and series release as being similar to a T206.

    1. I gather that Engel is just carrying on a name that came from other collectors, but there are similarities. Yes, though, the sizes don't match up, which means they don't fit in tobacco pages (especially the thick ones).

    2. The early JCM baseball and M-series fit nicely in the 15-pocket tobacco pages. Yeah, these have to go in the 9-pocket pages for sure due to their size.

  2. Certainly beyond my knowledge base but it's a great piece of history and to me, art.

    1. I agree. Menko are more than just a photo, for many sets. These are colorized photos, but for most of the menko era, there seemed to be a decent bit of thought into the presentation on both the front and back. There are exceptions, but I've come to appreciate menko quite a lot lately.