Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Bigger is better---Oversized 1938 Japanese Sumo Menko

Large menko are cool....not only because of their large size, but because you very rarely see them.  When you hold one you know you are holding something special because it took a small miracle for it to survive.  It had to survive wars, moms cleaning out rooms, storage in small Japanese homes, and ruthless menko battles.  So when I ran across this "large" set, I knew I needed to hold them, checklist them, and catalogue them.  They are pretty cool, not doubt, and the photographs and print quality are second to none for the era.  These R3811: 1938 Rikishi Large 7-8 menko measure about 2" x 4.5" and are a sight to behold.  What about you, do you like to collect large, "oversized" cards or are they a pain?

Have a great week everyone and sayonara!

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Caricatures are fun...especially with sumo wrestlers!

Caricatures are always good time at fairs and carnivals.  I am always amazed by how quickly and relatively accurately artists are able to develop and draw these out for patrons.  I am not artistic so I always applaud and admire people who are.  Did you know some of the earliest caricatures were done by Leonardo da Vinci?  Makes sense since he was such a brilliant engineer and really used the right side of his brain to the betterment of a whole generation of artists, engineers, scientists, and craftsman.  Anyway, I digress....we are talking caricatures because of this set as it is almost truly unique in the world of sumo.  Normally, many sumo menko are drawn to approximate a rikishi's face, but this set does have the appearance of overexaggeration.  Before cameras and photographic reproduction were main stream on sumo menko, there must have been a small army of artists cranking out material.  I don't think this set was meant to be humorous or funny, but 84 years later it does bring a smile to my face.  Catalogued as the R3713: 1937 Caricature 4 set, these are fairly large at 1.5" x 3". 

Have an awesome week and sayonara!

Friday, July 16, 2021

Pop Quiz Hotshot - 1941 Japanese Quiz Menko

Anyone remember what movie the quote "Pop Quiz Hotshot" is from?  If not, I have the answer at the bottom of this post.  I love quizzes and trivia and was the kid who wanted to play Trivial Pursuit growing up.  Not that I was particularly good at all the categories, but I found it fascinating to learn new things about the world.

In 1941, this menko set was printed to test kid's on their knowledge of one of the 82 different winning moves (kimarite) in sumo.  A drawing on front depicted one of the winning moves and inside a circle on the front asked which move it was...there were small clues in the question asking which throw, or which trip, or which push was used.  Then on the back the kids would discover the answer.....simple idea really and well executed on this set.  I was able to pick more of this set up since I reported on it almost 2 years ago.

I have catalogued this set as the M416: 1941 Circle Quiz 5 set and each menko measures approximately 1 3/8" x 2 7/8".

If you are wondering what moving the first quote was from, if you guessed "Speed" then you are correct!  Here is a short clip featuring this famous movie quote:

Have a great week and sayonara!

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Cold War Era - 1956 Japanese Military Menko

The Cold War in the 1950s must have been as stressful time as any to be alive given that nuclear weapons were now a real possibility and that at any time World War 3 could have ended the world as we know it.  Thankfully cooler heads prevailed to get us out of it, but I am sure it has left a lifelong impression on many citizens all over the world.  Japan was not immune from the Cold War and were caught in the political crossfire of Russia, China, Korea, and United States.  Having no offensive capability of their own, Japan relied heavily on the United States for protection and the weapons we employed during that time we fused into the lives of many children.  Menko companies took advantage of that fascination and made this set in 1956 that highlighted the popular rikishi of the era as well as some of the weapons children had no doubt read about or seen in books.

This M5623: 1956 Military 10 set is extremely hard to find...I am not sure why as most 1950s menko sets were made in decent quantities.  Maybe the war theme was too much for the general population at the time.  I have only seen these 6 menko in my over 20 years of collecting making them Extremely Rare.  Each menko measures approximately 1 3/8" x 2 3/4".

Have a great weekend and sayonara!

Friday, July 9, 2021

Paint it Purple - 1938 Japanese Sumo Wrestling Menko Set

Purple as a color is just awesome!  I guess anyone could say that about any color, but there is something about purple that screams elegance and luxury.  Did you know that purple is associated with the Japanese emperor and Japanese aristocracy?  And in England it is used only on special occasions with the Royal Family.  Crazy...anyway, purple came up as I was cataloguing this new set...the R389: 1938 Rikishi 4 set.  The fronts are a high quality picture and the backs are printed, well, in purple.  Not a deep shade of purple, but a good looking one nonetheless.  This set is extremely hard to find and I uncovered 9 menko from the set during the pandemic and am finally able to document it here and in my book.  These could be the only 9 in existence at this point.  These menko are relatively small at 1" x 2 1/8", but they make up for it as real stunners.  The backs originally had a piece of paper glued to it in order to stand them up I reckon to play kamizumo, but not sure.

Have an awesome weekend!

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Pre-War Japanese Sumo Menko...I mean pre-WWI!

I don't often use the word "Museum Quality" when it comes to sumo menko.  However, the early 1900 woodblock prints that were coming out of Japan at the time are nothing short of remarkable.  There are different qualities of woodprinters no doubt, and the artists that were making menko at the time were likely not skilled enough to compete with many of the heavy hitting artists.  Nonetheless, the quality and intricacies they devoted to the woodblock menko of the time was tremendous.  The woodblock set below is the R051: 1905 Priest, Gun, Fox Back 0.  Maybe more importantly than it's 116 years in existence, is the fact that it has two extremely, extremely rare menko of Osaka Yokozuna Okido and Wakashima.  At the time, there were two factions of sumo both in Tokyo and Osaka.  The one is Osaka struggled and eventually folded into the Tokyo Association, but for a brief time talented rikishi were competing there.  They don't nearly get the love and most artists seemed to have associated in Tokyo more so not many menko were produced of the Osaka rikishi.  These menko are printed on thin cardboard-like paper and are about 1" x 1 3/4".  Someday these will be in a museum!

I hope everyone came back same from the holiday and has a great week.  Sayonara!

Thursday, July 1, 2021

2021 Mid-Year Report Card

Well, with the year half over I thought I would do a quick review of where I stand on my 2021 Collecting Goals.  Not going to lie, this has been a tough year with work and COVID-19.  Oddly, my time to even blog has been drastically reduced due to inefficiencies of teleworking and having to spend more time "at work" to make up for the time lost trying to coordinate everything virtually.

I know there are a fair amount of collectors that don't like to do collecting goals...However, I'm one that likes to lay out the year to help me focus and to generally guide my collecting habits.  I seldom vary from my larger collection so I don't have a ton or random collections that are half-started...just expanding my normal collections and then maybe tackle one or two more.  Anyway, let's see how I am doing.

Goal #1: Blog 60 posts this year! - (26 as of this post) - Current Grade - "C"

This goal has been a little rough these past few months, but I feel like I should be able to catch up and get in a rhythm as things have quieted down at work some.  I think I stand a good chance of getting to 60 and maybe a few more as I have a stack of blogging material waiting....really it is stuff to catalogue for my book and some eye candy for the blog.

Goal #2: Publish the 5th Edition of the Sumo Menko and Card Checklist. - Current Grade - "C"

I am making some good progress on the 5th Edition and really do think I can get it finally published and out the door.  Work should slow down for me later this year for a little bit and if I can get 2-3 hours a week devoted to this goal I should easily crush this.  We'll see how the next few months goes though.

Goal #3: Get to the halfway point with my 1973 Calbee set - Current Grade - "D"

Ugh, I have not focused on the Calbee cards too much this year so far.  Prices for the high-numbers are expensive and I have focused my efforts on the other goals thus far.  I think I can pick up 3-4 more and really get back on track to 50% completion by the end of the year.  It all takes money and that would solve a lot of my problems here.  Ha!

Goal #4: Relabel my Binders/Sets and Pass Along Excess "Stuff" - Current Grade - "C"

I'm getting there are relabeling binders and tidying up...it seems like it is a never ending process.  I seem to clean up two piles and another one appears.  I am getting a small stack of cards and menko ready for eBay too which will be great to put a bit of extra money in my pocket!

Goal #5: Expand my 1980s/1990s Japanese Telephone Card Collection - Current Grade - "B"
This goal is part of my alt-collection and something fun as I am browsing for sumo auctions.  I have picked up a decent amount of telephone cards so far and am waiting for them arrive from Japan shortly.

Goal #6: Do Something with my Yukata Card/Bolt Collection - Current Grade - "F"

Still have no idea what I am going to do with these......but they are cool!

Goal #7: Continue Giving my Non-Sumo Collections Some Love - Currrent Grade - "C"

Amada Nintendo (NES)/Famicon Mini Cards
No real progress here.....

1983 Myojo Noodle Mechanical (Meca) Cards

I have picked up a crap ton of these cards and lost count how many new ones I now have.  

2014-2020 Airport Trading Cards
Still haven't found one of the "Dirty Five" yet.  Although I missed out on one recently as if flew under the radar before I saw it.

1974 Japanese Yamakatsu Bruce Lee "The Way of the Dragon"
No joy here....

Radio Shack Zip Zap Cards
I have managed to get a few more of these....not too shabby.

Brandon Laird and Yuta Tabuse Cards

Not really making any progress here as new cards rarely pop up that I need.  

Goal #8: Get out at least 1 Care Package a month - Current Grade - "F"

Ummm, I suck...sorry everyone!

Goal #9: Get to The National! - Current Grade - "A+"

VIP tickets purchased, plane tickets in hand, and hotel booked.  Here we go!

Goal #10: Maintain/Improve Google/Yahoo/Bing Search Engine results for Sumo Card(s) & Menko
- Current Grade - "A+"

Sumo Card: Bing #1, Google #2, Yahoo #1
Sumo Cards: Bing #1, Google #2, Yahoo #1
Sumo Menko: #1, Google #1, Yahoo #1
Sumo Wrestling Card: Bing #3, Google #3, Yahoo #3
Sumo Wrestling Cards: Bing #2, Google #2, Yahoo #2

I think I am doing well on this one and hopefully my hiatus these past few months doesn't hurt my metrics.

Thanks for being loyal readers and I hope everyone had a safe 2021 so far and I hope your collection keeps growing.