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

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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Not a Menko? JBR 5: 1959 2 in 1 Marukami B&W

As far as most of you can tell, menko are pretty standard - image on the front, game stuff on the back. And these cards are no different in that respect. But one thing you don't usually see, and I never really mention, is that menko are generally very thick. Some of the die-cuts I have are thinner than the rectangular ones, but they still are thicker than the Allen & Ginter cards sitting beside them. This is because menko is a game, and cards are designed to be tough, so they last in battle and actually fly like you want them to.

Bromides are much thinner. Some are basically the same thickness as photo paper, though most are pretty standard in their thickness. Also, while not necessarily the case every time, bromides get their name from the photographic process originally used to make cards. So when it comes to cataloging a card, not only the design but the thickness and manufacturing techniques come into play.

While more menko sets have been released for baseball than bromides, you can still find the modern version of bromides in various entertainment industries. What translates as "life photographs" are extremely popular for many idol groups; some AKB48 photos can sell for hundreds of dollars! I've also seen similar products offered for some baseball products. The cheerleader team box sets BBM has issued over the past few years have included these as box toppers, and I've seen some teams issue larger bromide/life photograph style products. Furthermore, bromides can be found in some snack shops for popular music groups.
 This is JBR 5. Issued in 1959 by Marukami, the name of the set refers to two cards being attached to each other. The combined cards are 2-3/4" by 2-1/8".

The player on the right is Yosio Yoshida of the Tigers. While this is a 1959-designated set, my The History of Uniform book identifies that cap logo as belonging to the 1960 uniform. It's possible that the book could be wrong about the cap change date. The player on the left is Yoshikazu Hamanaka, of the Whales (I think - determined by his hat logo and pose). The same book identifies his uniform as being from 1960 as well; the Whales didn't use jersey numbers on their fronts until that season. It's possible this set was issued in 1960 or the uniform book is incorrect.
The back of each card has a playing card number and symbol as well as an animal, along with a janken symbol at the bottom.  The backs don't match to specific fronts, as each front could have any playing card symbol on the back.

The set has 60 baseball cards plus many actors and actresses. Regular cards came sold uncut in pairs, but there are display sheets with 4, 12, and 32-card layouts.


  1. I really like the back design on these. Do you see them come to auction much?

  2. I'm really bad about looking for bromides in auctions, but I've never seen one. This card was picked up at a shop in the Tokyo area.