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.
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!