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Sadaharu Oh Rookie Gallery

Japan's all-time home run king has over 60 different cards from his 1959 rookie season. To help collectors identify the cards, I have pictured as many as possible on this page. More images will be added as I receive them.
"Tobacco Menko"

Most Sadaharu Oh rookie cards are 113/16 by 3 inch rectangular menko, often 

called “Tobacco Menko” by American collectors.

 

Menko were usually packaged in envelopes made of newspaper (one card per pack) and these envelopes would be strung together by running a string through a hole punched through the top of the envelope.  These bundles are known as taba.  Purchasers would pull a pack off the taba. About a half dozen cards in each taba would be stamped with the number 1, 2, or 3 on the back.  These are known as prize cards.  The finder of a prize card could choose an item off a poster-sized display sheet.  Third prize was usually a pair of cards, second prize an uncut group of four cards, and first prize an uncut sheet of 16 or 20 cards.  These prizes were often cut into individual cards by children so hand-cut cards with uneven borders are common.

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Menko Taba

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Menko Prize Card

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Menko Display Sheet

In 1959 there were eleven major manufacturers of tobacco menko: Doyusha, Hoshi Gangu, Yamakatsu, Marukami, Marumatsu, Marusan, Maruten, Marusho, Maruta, Maruo, and Maruya (“maru” means round or circle in Japanese—the original shape of menko). Six of these companies issued multiple sets that year. The sets contain between 20 and 100 cards, emphasize stars, and often contain multiple cards of certain players. As Oh was a high school star, most of these sets include more than one card of the rookie. In all, there are over fifty different cataloged Oh tobacco menko cards.

I have depicted Oh's rookie cards here by manufacturer. Click on the image to enlarge it and see the set information.

Menko Rookies

Click on the image to enlarge it

Non-Menko Sadaharu Oh Rookie Cards

 

There are three general types of non-menko Oh rookie cards: candy/gum cards, bromides, and furoku.

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