Sunday, October 6, 2019

Raw & Uncut: 1946 Kagome Rikishi Down 3-4 (R462) Sumo Wrestling Menko Sheet

1946 was a really slim year for sumo.  Only one tournament was held and most of the rikishi were struggling to transition to the post-war occupation and an environment that wasn't friendly to traditional Japanese sports.  While baseball thrived in Occupied Japan, sumo wrestling floundered and thus, very few sumo menko sets exist from the late 1940s to early 1950s.  This 1946 menko set printed by Kagome was one of those few.  Surprisingly, the only menko I have seen from this set have been in uncut sheets and I recently discovered a full 3-sheet, 21-menko set from this hard to find "rare" release.  And as an extra bonus, I discovered this set comes in at least two types of backs, light blue and dark blue ink.  As you can see the fronts have bold colors and good quality drawings that somewhat resemble the likeness of the rikishi.  Likely this set was printed in early 1947 as it is missing Yokozuna who retired in the 1946 tournament, but the ranks are based on the Aki 1946 Banzuke.

Have an amazing Sunday!

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Raw & Uncut: 1945 Rikishi 5 (R451) Sumo Wrestling Menko Sheet

Well, technically these menko cards have been perforated so are cut a little, but they haven't been popped out of the sheet yet.  This set that I have catalogued as the R451: 1945 Rikishi 5 set is not impossible to find surprisingly...or at least in recent years I have picked up a decent amount and have given it a "Rare" Availability Rating.  However, what makes this menko sheet so unique is not from the fact that they are uncut, but the fact that they are from 1945 and printed a little less than three months after the war officially ended in Japan.  You have heard me talk before about how ravaged the economy of Japan was during the war and for many years after.  Paper was in short supply, food was scarce, and rampant inflation and black markets sprung up all over the country.  Again, the fact that a sheet of these menko were printed and the fact that it still exists is amazing.  This set and sheet, I believe, does give us some clues to the origin.  First, the top of the sheet says "Sample Sumo Menko" which leads me to believe that maybe it survived because it was more of a salesman sample and not intended for sale.  Maybe the salesman was giving these away to drum up business.  It is pristine shape and so it must have been tucked away somewhere safe for 75 years.  Second, the back has light green ink.  I also have catalogued light blue ink and light grey ink versions which leads me to believe they were printed in different places or printed in mass quantities which led them to using different inks, basically anything they had which might explain why I have seen so many of them.  Lastly, the design, colors, and production quality is top notch leading me to believe it was made by one of the larger companies...possibly one that survived the war intact; likely Kagome Toys.  If only menko could talk....

Enjoy your week and stay safe! 

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Bruce Lee is defeated! 1974 Japanese Yamakatsu "Enter The Dragon" set is complete!

Finally, after at least close to 5 years....maybe longer...I have completed the 1974 Japanese Yamakatsu "Enter the Dragon" set and that is no joke.  For the past couple of years, I have been struggling to find the last two cards at the right price, but they popped up in a few auctions and I pulled the trigger.  Such a relief to have this Series 1 set complete.  For those that aren't familiar with this 144-card set, it is broken up into three series based on the Enter the Dragon and The Way of the Dragon movies and Green Hornet TV series as follows:

Cards #1-48 - Series 1: Enter the Dragon
Cards #49-96 - Series 2: The Way of the Dragon (with Chuck Norris)
Cards #97-144 - Series 3: The Green Hornet TV Series

All three Series get progressively harder to find and complete  Series 1 is the easiest and Series 3 is the hardest, and most expensive.

Here are all 48 cards in their glory!

Now off to tackle the last nine cards in Series 2!