Pogs’ Japanese great grandfather.
Menko is a Japanese social gambling game for children played with heavy cardboard cards. The object: to flip or knock the other player’s card over, or knock it out of the ring. Flipping a card over means you get to keep it. (More on the rules here.) The printing on the reverse allowed for additional games to be played, like rock/paper/scissors, making these truly multi-purpose toys. These colorful cards were printed in a variety of subjects, including ninja, samurai, baseball players, movie stars, and cartoon characters. Some were even available with die cut shapes.
The seven Superman menko pictured below appear to be from the same series; they were sold to me as being c. 1950s, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they were later. As a non-Japanese speaker, I really can’t tell you much of what’s going on, but I just love these because of their highly graphic and colorful off-model art, crude printing, and sometimes strange international interpretation of Superman.
The backs are printed in a single color, and hint at different games that can be played. These feature imprints of playing cards, hands in the shape of rock/paper/scissors, various instruments of war, and large fighting numbers on the bottom. Some of these have an imprint of a rubber stamp on the back. I don’t know if that’s someone’s name, or a tax stamp, or something else entirely.
Thanks to Sumo Menko’s guide to company imprints, I was able to identify these as being manufactured by Kagome Gangu.
Have any of these for sale? Please contact me!