Japanese Menko Game Cards
It’s in the Details
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Japanese Menko Game Cards Overview
Most American collectors are unfamiliar with Menko cards. However, these are some of the most popular Japanese pre-war cards around.
Baseball is likely the only one of the four major American sports featured on the cards. However, Menko cards included a variety of subjects both related to baseball and also non-sports related.
Menko is a popular Japanese game that involves flipping cards. As described here, the object is to flip your opponent’s cards over in various ways. The cards used in the game often featured baseball players and have drawn the interest of some sports card collectors.
Many of the Menko cards feature unnamed subjects. However, some also depict drawings of real players. The hurdle for American collectors that don’t speak Japanese will always be trying to interpret the writing on the cards.
As Japanese expert Robert Fitts describes here, there are four main types of Menko cards:
- Circular cards
- Rectangular cards
- Narrow rectangular cards shaped like bookmarks
- Die-Cut cards
The styles of the cards vary significantly. Some feature real pictures of players but most are drawings. Some are black and white but most are colorful. Backs of the cards can be blank or have a variety of decorations on them. Some will be numbered.
While some Menko sets exist, cataloging them is difficult. Many Menko cards sold today don’t have definitive known dates and it may not be known to which set they belong.