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Sino-Japanese War. Fushuken Tsuneshige? 帝国艦隊豊島ニ支那艦ヲ破ル [Teikoku Kantai Toshima ni Shina-kan o Yabu Ru]. Inoue Mohei 1894 (Meiji 27). Colour lithograph (or lithograph and woodcut?) triptych, each sheet approx 38x25.5cm. A good copy with decent top and left margins. Au$300

This is your run of the mill fabulous exploding ship Sino-Japanese woodcut senso-e triptych but for one thing: it is a lithograph. There are plenty of single sheet lithographs but they aren't the same thing. I'm yet to see another like this. A couple of other copies are reproduced online and even allowing for the vagaries of reproduction it's clear that colours were as experimental as the print itself.
All that I can find about Tsuneshige is that no-one agrees on how to read his name.


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Exhibition, Kyoto 1895. Yoshiwara Takeo. 第四回勧業博覧会太極殿図 [Daiyonkai Kangyo Hakurankai Taikyoku Zenzu?]. Kyoto, Ide Shozo 1895 (Meiji 28) Lithograph 42x56, folded. A scattering of small wormholes and signs of use; not bad. Au$125

A bird's-eye view of the 4th National Industrial Exhibition held in Kyoto from April to the end of July 1895. Five of these national exhibitions were held between 1877 and 1903; the first three in Tokyo and, after some provincial agitation, this in Kyoto and the fifth in Osaka. Each was bigger, better and more crowded than their predecessor.


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Du BOISGOBEY, Fortune & Kuroiwa Ruiko (translator). 玉手箱 [Tamatebako]. Tokyo, Okawa 1895. 22x14cm publisher's colour lithograph illustrated wrapper; 386pp, three double page illustrations at the beginning, double and single page illustrations scattered through the text. Some grubby thumb prints and other signs of use but a pretty good copy. Au$200

First published in 1891 this is a translation of 'The Closed Door', in turn a translation of 'Porte Close' (1886), which indicates that Ruiko worked from a cheap, presumably pirated, American edition. The authorised translations were titled 'The Condemned Door'.
Ruiko was busy. Apart from journalism, running newspapers and writing what might be the first modern Japanese detective novel he kick started Japanese detective fiction by publishing a squillion translations or adaptations of novels by authors like Jules Verne, Gaboriau, Hugh Conway, Anna Katherine Green, Marie Corelli, A.M. Williamson, George Griffith, H.G. Wells and most of all, Du Boisgobey. Translation is an approximate description of Ruiko's work; he was open about slashing, expanding and rewriting his material to fit what he wanted the novel to say.


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Textile sample book. 澤印 [cover title] 京染呉服卸商 [Sawa Shirushi - Kyozome Gofuku Oroshisho]. Kyoto, Sawada Shoten [190-?]. 23x16cm publisher's cloth (discoloured) with bone clasp; 100 silk samples in accordian folding heavy printed card mounts. With another defective sample book with 30 of 32 samples of dyed cottons. Au$225

Finely grained, creped and patterned silks for kimonos. The name Sawada is still connected with kimonos in Kyoto but I can't trace any relationship. The current Sawada Shoten in Kyoto sells work clothes and was founded in 1968.


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Hikifuda. Shoes. 履物鼻緒商 ... 大村一正 [Hakimono Hanao-sho .... Omura Kazumasa]. n.p. [190-?]. 26x38cm colour woodcut. Au$200

I guess that if a strapping sumo wrestler chooses to wear your shoes you know they must be sturdy. I don't know who the pint-size deity dancing on hs arm is and neither do I know who he - the wrestler - is. I suspect that this is a celebrity portrait rather than a generic figure and I bet someone out there can identify both of them.
These hikifuda - small posters or handbills - were usually produced with the text panel blank. The customer, usually a retailer, had their own details over printed, so the same image might sell fine silk or soy sauce. That doesn't apply here.


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Hikifuda. 後藤商會 [Goto Shokai]. n.p. [c1900] 26x38cm colour woodcut. Small knick from a top corner; a nice copy. Au$135

Bustling modern Japan is celebrated in this advertisement for the Japanese and western liquor merchants Goto Shokai. I presume it's the trademarks of the brands they handle that are displayed.
These hikifuda - small posters or handbills - were usually produced with the text panel blank. The customer, usually a retailer, had their own details over printed, so the same image might sell fine silk or soy sauce.


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Hikifuda specimen book. 引札見本帖 [Hikifuda Mihon Jo]. Osaka c1902. 25x37cm original string tied wrappers, title label; 60 colour lithographs. Some minor signs of use, stains and blotches; a remarkably good copy. Au$5100

Now this is rare. Specimen hikifuda do float around but this is because busy fingers have dismembered every sample book they can find. I knew they once existed because I've had a few individuals, each time noting the stab holes in the margin with some indignant grief. This is complete as issued.
Hikifuda - small posters or handbills - were usually produced with the text panel blank. The customer, usually a retailer, had their own details over printed, so the same image might sell fine silk or soy sauce. The colophons that have survived the trimmer in this book date between 1899 and 1902. Each hikifuda is numbered on the back but not in any sequence. I haven't deciphered a printer's name in the colophons but I'm sure someone literate can.
From what I can see, if you wanted fine, delicate printing you went to Kyoto; if you wanted commercial publishing on a huge scale you went to Tokyo; and if you wanted brash, vivid to the point of lurid, advertising you went to Osaka. I hope other printer's albums of Osaka advertising art have and will survive the breakers but I won't be holding my breath for the next one.
The splendidly flamboyant and assertive modern young woman in stripes toward the end of the album is unlike any other I've seen from this period. A special copy (on heavier paper) of that was my first hikifuda purchase and is still my favourite. And since this album has just doubled the number I've handled, that's saying something. Another shows a hardworking young couple with the main caption 'Shiobara Tasuke' - who was a rags to riches merchant of the 18th and early 19th century. This makes sense but doesn't explain why the cheerful young woman is about to blithely put a cleaver through her kimono while the falcon and the naval artist does explain why Japan has such a tradition of impossible bird's-eye views. There's stuff to learn here.

*Click on the picture to see more in the gallery.


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Catalogue - printed photograph mounts. Asanuma Shokai. 写真台紙定価表 [Shashin Daishi Teika-hyo]. n.p. Asanuma Shokai 1903 (Meiji 36). 18x23cm publisher's decorated wrapper; [8]pp and 12 pages of illustrated examples in various monochromes. A nice copy. Au$500

A mountain of printed and most decorative mounts for studio photographs were produced but this is the first catalogue of them I've seen. Most of these appear to be actual examples produced for photographers in Japan, Hong Kong, China and maybe Manchuria - judging by the Russian type. As an example of maybe a dim corner of photographic history - I don't know enough to judge - this is pretty good, but as an example of a dark corner of graphic design and commercial printing this is fabulous.
The last plate is an array of decorative borders.


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Otake Kokkan. 新案征露戦局雙六 [Shin'an Sei-Ro Senkyoku Sugoroku]. Tokyo, Hakubunkan 1905 (Meiji 38). Colour broadside 55x79cm. A few pinholes; rather good. Au$300

The new year gift from the magazine Shashin Gaho. This may be muted and delicate at first glance but there is plenty of turmoil on land and sea. And it looks to me you could learn all you really need to know about the Russo-Japanese war. There's a lot packed in.
Otake was a well regarded, prize winning, Nihonga painter who was firm about maintaining Japanese tradition but like many such artists was a busy producer of prints and illustrator of magazines, books and advertisements.


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Hikifuda. Nakayama. Club Washing Powder ... highly perfumed by violet essence, white rose, musk and Jockey Club Essence ... n.p. [Kobe?], Nakayama Taiyodo [1906?]. Broadside 35x34cm printed rainbow in red, green and purple on crepe (chirimen). Old folds, a couple of small holes in a fold, pretty good. Au$150

What the hell is Jockey Club Essence? Never mind. Fin-de-siecle belles printed in rainbow on crepe; what more could you ask for? Nakayama founded his cosmetics company in Kobe in 1903, changed the name to Club in 1905 and launched Club Washing Powder in 1906. It became Club Cream in 1911. This hikifuda matches the Nakayama advertising of 1906 on the company's website. The trademark twins are apparently a portrait of Namiko, wife of Maeda Toshinari.
By 1939 Nakayama was a member of the house of peers or lords and is now the hero of a recent novel; the title translates as "King of Cosmetics". Look out for the Takarazuka Revue musical and the mini-series.


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Exhibition - Tokyo 1907 東京勧業博覧会図会 - 風俗画報 [Tokyo Kangyo Hakurankai Zue - Fuzoku Gaho]. Tokyo, Fuzoku Gaho 1907. Five volumes 26x19cm, publisher's colour illustrated wrappers; a large folding colour view in the first issue, at least two double page colour illustrations in each of the others, monochrome plates and photo illustrations. Au$500

A set of the five special issues of the Fuzoku Gaho devoted to the 1907 Tokyo Industrial Exhibition. The Fuzoku Gaho (1889 - 1916) was Japan's first graphic magazine. I'd like to know who the artist was of some of these plates*. They masterfully capture the eagerness for the new, the wonder, the distractions, the shared delights, and the weary resignation of some parents.
The 1907 exhibition was conceived as an international exhibition but this ambition fizzled due to lack of enthusiasm, if not nerve, on the part of officialdom. Nonetheless this was big stuff, expansive in its inclusion of technology, culture, the arts and popular entertainment - introducing not one but two ferris wheels to Tokyo. It did pretty good business, atttracting some six or seven million visitors.
*A generous customer has told me that the coloured frontispieces and some other illustrations, where the signature can be read, are by Yamamoto Shoun, also known as Matsutani - which appears to me to be the signature on the admirable illustrations.


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Nakazawa Hiromitsu, Kobayashi Shokichi & Okano Sakae. 東洋未来雙六 [Toyo Mirai Sugoroku]. Tokyo, Hakubunkan 1907 (Meiji 40). Colour printed broadside, 55x78cm. Rather good. Au$650

A view, or a panoply of views, of a future Asia. Some of these vignettes of what's to come are obvious enough - schoolgirls at rifle drill and sumo wrestlers in striped bathers - but a few seem fairly recondite to me. I'm not sure how much is optimistic, how much is dire warning and how much is wearily stoic.
Nakazawa, Kobayashi and Okano, still young, had been fellow students at the Tokyo School of Fine Arts, and of Kuroda Seiki, and collaborated on the five volume Nihon Meisho Shasei Kiko, issued over several years.


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Catalogue - furniture. Hasegawa Denjiro. たんす: 茂久録 [Tansu : Mokuroku}. Tokyo, Hasegawa 1907 (Meiji 40). 22x15cm publisher's printed wrapper; [2],32pp, illustrated throughout. Minor signs of use, quite good in original stamped postal envelope. Loosely inserted two sheets (one quite long) with text and an ink sketch of a cabinet on one and a careful measured pencil drawing on the other. This is a variant of their no.45. Au$175

According to the introduction, this is the third catalogue of Tansu - mobile cabinets - from the workshop of Hasegawa, following catalogues in 1905 and 1906. NDL finds a 1905 copy which is a slight thing with 12 pages and 15 illustrations. I can't find a record of any others.
This illustrates some fittings and 49 models with occasional concessions to westernisation. The greatest concession is, of course, mass production and mail order catalogues.


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Nakamura Fusetsu, Takahama Kyoshi, Kawahigashi Hekigodo & Natsume Soseki. 不折俳画 [Fusetsu Haiga]. Tokyo, Kokado 1910 (Meiji 43). Two volumes 30x17cm publisher's cloth* wrappers, title labels (the first a touch nibbled); 20 colour woodcuts in each volume plus woodcut titles and another colour print in the second; Natsume Soseki's preface printed as a manuscript in umber. In a cloth case missing its clasps, title label stamped with five red seals including what looks to be Fusetsu's and at least one of the other contributor's own seals (that on the title of the second volume - is it one of Soseki's innumerable seals?). A remarkably bright copy of a book prone to foxing. Au$800

Is this a large paper or deluxe copy? The first thing that struck me when these arrived was how tall they are and I can't find a record of any other copy much less than an inch shorter (and thinner when a clear enough picture is available). Or is it just that copies measured and catalogued as first editions aren't? This copy does not have and never had the publisher's announcements and colophon at the end of each volume like the copy reproduced by the NDL.
Haiga - the mix of picture and haiku - is by 1910 very old school and Fusetsu's drawings have a direct lineage to Buson. But Fusetsu was a star of the generation that studied western painting and went on to forge a new style of Japanese painting which, given ink and paper and freed from the weight of oil, canvas and the academy, breathed life back into Japanese drawing with the same sharp eye but more affection than their European contemporaries, making the best of those draughtsmen look a bit mean and studied.
*Neither can I find another copy bound with what looks like a loose weave muslin.


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Nosatsu - Senjafuda. Ichikawa. いちかわ A printer's sample album of woodcut senjafuda or nosatsu. n.p. [Kyoto c1910-30?]. 22x32cm handmade album titled in ink on the front; 130 colour woodcut examples 18x6cm, seven 18x11cm, a couple of small and one longer folding examples at the end. The album somewhat dishevelled but solid and the woodcuts in good shape. Au$750

A printer's album of senjafuda with the name Ichikawa of Kyoto and what may be an address on the cover - the writing defeats me. Their block stamp appears throughout.
Nosatsu - votive slips left at temples and shrines - are a thousand odd years old tradition but in the last couple of hundred years they evolved into elaborate prints made more to be swapped and traded than pasted on temple gates. The tens and twenties maybe represent the peak years before lithography and then self adhesive mass produced stickers took over. Afficiandos commisioned them, companies used them as advertisements and business cards. Designers and printers made them a speciality and typographers loved them.
This is high class Kyoto printing, bright and strong with the occasional touch of added embossing.


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Advertising & trade marks. A Japanese album of labels, trade marks, etc. n.p. early to mid c20th. 29x24cm cross stitch cloth album with 73 examples mounted on 24 black card leaves. Collector's ex libris stamp with the name 'Nanbu' on the front endpaper. Au$400

A carefully collected and presented gathering of labels, wrappers and similar trade mark advertising ephemera - from translucent tissue to stiif card - dating from early in the century into the 1930s.


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Hikifuda. 六神丸 アプト - 富山製剤株式会社 [Rokujinmaru aputo - Toyama Seizai Kabushikigaisha]. Toyama Pharmaceutical [191-?]. Three lithographs 39x18cm each. Au$300

A trio of carols to modernity, the future and whatever it is that Rokujinmaru does. Some sort of herbal medicine, presumably it makes children joyous, smart and eager to speed into the future.


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Hikifuda. 高橋屋 ... 太郎丸 ... [Takahashiya ... Taromaru ...]. n.p. [c1910?]. 26x38cm colour woodcut. Margins browned. Au$125

I don't know what Takahashiya sold, I'm sorry, but I can tell you that Taromaru is in Toyama and that this patriotic hikifuda celebrates the royal family who in turn celebrate Japan taking to the air. That's the crown prince, soon to be emperor Taisho and his family, presumably his oldest child, Hirohito.
These hikifuda - small posters or handbills - were usually produced with the text panel blank. The customer, usually a retailer, had their own details over printed, so the same image might sell fine silk or soy sauce.


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Paper toys. A gathering of eleven Taisho period cheap and flimsy paper games and booklets. n.p. 1910s to 20s. Sizes range from 8x5cm to 17x11cm closed. Obviously never used. Au$400

These look very much like they were gifts that accompanied something else or were rewards for coupons or suchlike. Five, including the origami-like soldier, fold out to be 'board' games with playing pieces inside; two are cinema like thrillers on accordian leaves and the two smallest are puzzling envelopes containing blank sheets and what looks like talcum; finally are the two booklets, smaller illustrated in black and white, larger in colour, telling the story of the Tongue Cut Sparrow.


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Kawabata Ryushi. 冒険小説双六 [Boken Shosetsu Sugoroku]. Tokyo, Nihon Shonen 1913 (Taisho 2). Colour broadside 79x54cm. A few small holes in the folds; pretty good. Au$300

The new year gift from the boys' magazine Nihon Shonen is called an adventure novel and so it is: action packed and perilous from start to finish.
Kawabata's career took a curious turn during a 1913 stay in America to study western painting. Apparently he was so impressed with the Japanese art he saw in Boston he switched to being a Nihonga painter. Still, he remained being an illustrator for magazines for quite some time. As did most of the early to mid 20th century artists now revered.


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