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Ishii Usaburo. 新撰大匠雛形大全 [Shinsen Taisho Hinagata Taizen]. Osaka, Seikado 1897 [Meiji 30]. Six volumes small quarto by size, publisher's embossed wrappers with title labels; illustrations throughout, a couple folding - all lithographed. Minor signs of use, a title label partly missing, rather good. Inscriptions of, I think, Hattori Chozo at the end of each volume. Au$850

First edition of this excellent builder/architect's pattern book - it was reprinted in 1910 - published just at the time when there was both a cultural argument and a government led reaction against the wholesale importation of western architecture into Japan.
This particular book bridges the confrontation between a nationalistic return to ancient temple forms and the fervour for modernisation. Two thirds of this book is traditional Japanese design, structure and carpentry but the last two volumes introduce western building designs and, in the details, western building methods. Here nuts, bolts and metal brackets replace traditional carpentry and masonry forms are described. In the last volume are a series of profiles of mouldings, architectural hardware and fairly elaborate gates, fences and entries in western styles.
At this time architecture itself was an innovation - the first generation of trained architects were beginning to replace the craftsman, until then designer and builder. But the Imperial Palace, despite the Emperor's push for modernity for the country, was not built to the designs of any of the western or western trained architects who submitted designs; it was built by the Imperial Carpenter, who went on to teach many of these young, new architects then, in turn, responsible for the resurgence of Japanese historicism.


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Ueda Chikuo. 手風琴獨案内流行歌曲集 [Tefukin Hitoriannai Ryuko Kakyokushu]. Tokyo or Osaka? 1897 (Meiji 30). 14x22cm publisher's colour illustrated wrappers; 70pp. Certainly used but an acceptable copy. Au$50

Third or fourth edition I think, all dated the same year. The innocent children of Japan are introduced to the accordian, harmonica, flute and blow accordian. A lot of songs notated with numbers. The book opens right to left which may be modern enough but the title reads right to left on the cover and left to right on the title page. Song titles seem to read right to left but I got confused long before I got to the music.
There was an almost identically titled book from the same stable a couple of years earlier. What the difference is I can't say. I found no copies of either outside Japan.


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Hikifuda Menu. 萬菜便覧 [Banzai Binran]. n.p. [190-?]. Colour lithograph broadside 37x51cm. Minimal signs of use. Au$90

This busy and cheerful Hikifuda - handbill - is an advertisement and a menu, seemingly for all seasons. I'm told what's on offer is side dishes. A typical Hikifuda in that businesses had their own details put in the centre panel. I've traced two images of this handbill, one with a blank centre panel, the other for a different company.


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Hikifuda. Benkyo Shoten? 和洋雑貨毛織物類 [Wayo Zakka Keorimono-rui]. Hikifuda - or handbill - for a sale of Japanese and western wool textiles. n.p. [190-?]. Colour lithograph broadside 38x26cm. A touch browned round the edges. Au$100

An exuberant yet elegant thoroughly up to the minute snapshot of a stylish woman - with her painfully exquisite daughter - graciously acknowledging the attention of the shop boy at a busy warehouse sale of fabrics.


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Hikifuda. 名取川醤油発売元 [Natori-gawa Shoyu Hatsubai-Moto]. n.p. [190-?]. Colour lithograph 52x39cm. A bit creased or rumpled with a couple of closed marginal tears; a pretty good copy. Au$250

I presumed this exquisite modern young woman was advertising kimono silk and perhaps she does in other examples of this advertising handbill cum poster. These things were usually produced with a blank space for a business to print, sometimes write in, their products and details. Here, she is advertising a Natori-gawa soy sauce distributor. Natori-gawa is the river near Sendai in north east Honshu.


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Specimen tea label. Smile Extra Choicest Spring Leaf Japan Tea. n.p. n.d. (early c20th?) Colour woodcut 39x34cm. An outstanding, crisply impressed copy. Au$225

A fabulous and puzzling large label - ranji - for export tea chests that would do any sixties' album cover proud. I have learnt that woodcut printing survived for tea labels after other printing went litho because exporters didn't want the ink smell contaminating their tea. Printing quality was high, this was international advertising, but the labels that survive are of course remainders or samples.
I take this to be a sample - the paper is good quality and heavy and the printing immaculate - for a label never used. I have looked through hundreds of labels online without finding any Smile Tea. Can an expert put me straight?
This has what a label needs: bright colours, bold contrast, lively typography and an arresting design. But it doesn't have what other tea labels have: a pretty picture that foreigners will immediately recognise as Japan. No elaborately kimonoed beauty, no Fuji, no lucky god. No kimonoed beauty on a tea plantation terrace with a lucky god in attendance and Fuji in the distance.
What we have is a happy but somehow sinister character. With those ears he is surely a wrestler. But bald? Was there a happy bald wrestler famous enough in Japan that someone thought he might translate to the outside world? An ex-wrestler who became famous as the eternally cheerful muscle for the mob?


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Hikifuda. 新村商店 ... 下諏訪木之下 ... 和洋織物商 ... [Niimura Shoten ... Shimosuwa Kinoshita ... Wayo Orimonosho ...]. n.p. [1900]. Colour woodcut 26x38cm. Minor stain, really only noticeable in the bottom margin. Au$250

This smart hikifuda - large handbill or small poster - advertises, I think, the Shimosuwa department store Niimura Shoten where they sell Japanese and western textiles. Shimosuwa is a town in Nagano, east of Tokyo. There are Niimura department stores still in a few towns around Japan but I suspect that it is a common name; it translates more or less as 'New Town'.
This is also a tribute to modern transport and a helpful train (and ferry?) timetable for 1900 is provided.


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Exhibition - Osaka 1903 第五回内国勧業博覧会場内実地縮図 [Daigokai naikoku kangyo hakurankai jonai jitchi shukuzu]. Fifth National Industrial Exhibition ... Osaka. Osaka 1903 (Meiji 36). Colour lithograph 55x79cm; folded as issued. A couple of smudges and spots; a rather good copy with its original colour illustrated outer wrapper, Au$300

A pretty good bird's-eye view. The Fifth National Industrial Exhibition in Osaka in 1903, while the last of the series begun in 1877 was the largest and included a lot of firsts. It was the first with a court for foreign countries - quite a few exhibited their wares. It was the first held at night - electricity and illumination was a great feature - and the Japanese public was introduced to wireless telegraphy, American automobiles, x-rays and cinema.
A sixth exhibition scheduled for 1907 was to be an international exhibition but that plan fizzled. The Tokyo exhibition of 1907 was pretty grand but not what was hoped for after 1903. It was 1970 before Japan held an international exhibition.


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Russo-Japanese War. The Sinking of the Rurik, Russian cruiser, under heavy attacking by Our 2nd squadron off Ulsan, 14th August, 1904. Tokyo, September 1904. Colour lithograph 40x56cm. Some creases and a couple of marginal tears repaired. Au$150

A vivid and satisfying print that carries the great Japanese tradition of exploding ship woodcuts into lithography, pretty much the last gasp of the senso-e - war prints - as news and art for the population.
The woodcuts produced during the Russo-Japanese war showed a dramatic decline both in number and quality compared with those of the Sino-Japanese war ten years earlier. Lithographs were often half hearted - photographs, drab and fuzzy as they were when printed, were taking over. Luckily we have here a publisher and artist still willing to sacrifice documentary veracity for the sake of art and excitement.


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Hikifuda. 汽車積水陸荷物運送取扱所 [Kisha Seki Suiriku Nimotsu Unso Toriatsukaijo]. n.p. [c1904]. Colour lithograph 37x52cm. Old folds. Au$300

Freudians and symbolists of the last century, eat your hearts out. Our artist beat you to every punch by years. This patriotic hikifuda - large handbill or small poster - advertising a transport company must date to the Russo-Japanese war.


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Hikifuda. 神戸牝牛肉 - 長浜大手筋東見付 - 山月楼 Kobe Mesu Gyuniku - Nagahama ote-kin azuma mitsuke - Yamatsuki-ro. n.p. [c1905?]. Colour lithograph 26x37cm with added embossing. Somewhat rumpled with a small hole in the top margin. Au$200

A bracing celebration of the new Japanese woman and of the mysterious new game - bicycle tennis. Now, that's a sport I'd watch.
When the crown princess went into nurse uniform in the Russo-Japanese war the aristocracy and high bourgeoisie of Japan rushed to follow. Add that to the fashion, bicycles and tennis and the elaborate extra embossing of the costumes here we have a portrait of the ideal Japanese woman of the late Meiji that is hard to match.
I'm most uncertain about my transcription of the text in this hikifuda - a large handbill or small poster. I'm prettty sure it advertises some health supplement for women. Maybe it is Kobe beef and maybe something else altogether.


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Russo-Japanese War. 名譽 - 砂山庄次郎 ... [Meiyo - Sunayama Shojiro ... ]. [c1905]. Colour lithograph 77x39cm. Some light browning, a couple of insignificant marginal tears. Au$500

A splendid poster advertising ... I'm not sure what apart from the crown prince and princess and their pluck. That is Tsar Nicholas under there by the way. There are great slogans and company names galore but I can't work out if they are actual businesses or generic examples, ie - this is a specimen poster produced for companies to consider using. In which case it is a poster advertising advertising.


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Kameda Yoshiro (or Kichirobei). 和洋建築新雛形 [Wayo Kenchiku Shin Hinagata]. Osaka, Seikado 1907 (Meiji 40). Six volumes 22x15cm, publisher's wrappers with title labels; illustrated throughout with plans, elevations, measured drawings etc. Covers mildly rubbed, a rather good set. sold

I'm not sure whether this should be described as Japanese principles applied to western design or the other way round. I think both, if it matters. An excellent builder's pattern book that was certainly put to wide use that may be a reworking or just a relabelled version of Kameda's 1897 'Taisho Shin Hinagata Taizen'. A lot of it seems the same.
There is a 2008 learned paper by Yanigasawa and Mizoguchi that shows how Kameda introduced Japanese carpentry and the modular system into western design but all except the precis of their paper is in Japanese so I have no idea how they go about proving their point. They do tell us that Kameda was a master carpenter in Fukuoka.


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Asai Chu. 当世風俗五十番歌合 [Tosei Fuzoku Gojuban Utaawase]. Tokyo, Yoshikawa Hanschichi 1907 (Meiji 40). Two volumes 25x18cm publisher's wrapper with title labels; 52 full page colour woodcuts by Asai. An outstanding pair. Au$1500

Such a fresh and crisp copy of the original edition that I can't bring myself to flatten these out enough to photograph the interior. So the illustrations here, apart from the covers, are stolen from elsewhere to give an idea of the remarkable charm and humour of Asai's observations of the modern Japanese seen in pairs. Imagine these brighter on fresh cream paper.
Asai, elder and teacher of the school of western painting, fortunately never abandoned the tradition of satirical illustration. This was published just before his death. Each of these illustrations accompanies a poem on modern customs; the book's title calls this a poetry competition.


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Hikifuda. Tsumura Juntendo. 中將湯 - へルプ [Chujo Yu - Herupu]. [Tokyo? 1908-09]. Colour lithograph 265x375mm. Old vertical folds, stabholes in the right margin and tips clipped from the left corners indicating it was once part of an album. A pretty good copy. Au$225

Tsumura Juntendo - still in business - began selling herbal remedies in Tokyo in the 1890s and 'Help' - Tsumura's herbal wonder cure for women - went on the market in 1907. This handsome hikifuda - handbill or poster - includes a calendar for 1909.


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Tobacco. Three price and retailers lists of cigars, cigarettes and tobacco and a manual of rules and regulations from the Imperial Japanese Government Monopoly. [Tokyo?] 1908-1911. Four items, varying octavos, publisher's printed wrappers; ranging from 20 to 72 pages, errata slips. Minor signs of use, pretty good. In English and Japanese but for the regulations (1910) which is in Japanese. Au$100

A neat little precis of the tobacco market in the early 20th century, domestic and imported, at a time when decent cigarettes most likely came from Egypt, often with a gold tip. In 1904 the government nationalised all tobacco products in Japan, pushed by outrage at the multi-million dollar purchase of Japanese tobacco interests by the newly formed British-American Tobacco Company. The English sections of the lists are for foreigners in Japan.


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