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201 items found:

Yanagawa Shunsan. [Seiyo Tokei Benran]. Tokyo, Yamatoya Kihee 1872 [Meiji 5]. 185x80mm publisher's stiff wrapper with title label (marked), accordian folding to form 34pp with woodblock illustrations throughout. A nice copy. Au$750

An introduction to the western watch and its workings and - more important - western time and how to tell it. Roman numerals and the hour, minute and seconds hands are explained and a series of watch faces guide us through the rest of the intricacies of measuring time in the western style. Obviously for the pocket, this could be hauled out with the new gizmo when its fledgling owner was stumped. Or even by a non-watch owner faced with a public clock. At the end the thermometer is illustrated and explained too.
This is not to say that the Japanese hadn't already mastered the clock. Since the Jesuits introduced clocks in the 16th century Japanese clockmakers had developed complex weight and spring driven mechanisms to run timekeepers according to the unequal hours of day and night, varying according to season. But in 1872 the government switched from the lunar calendar to the solar calendar and abolished traditional timekeeping and a whole nation had to start again from scratch.
Makes sense to me that daylight hours are longer and night hours shorter in summer and the reverse in winter. We all know that despite what the clock says all hours are not created equal. Bring back traditional Japanese timekeeping I say.


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Puppets. [Seiyo Ayatsuri Ningyo]. Tokyo, Hanayashiki [188-?]. Woodcut on translucent paper with added colours, 25x19cm. Old fold, rumpled; rather good. Au$300

This hikifuda or flyer for the western puppet show in Asakusa Park's Hanyashiti - amusement park - exists in two forms: one with the main title across the top and the other in the right column, as here. The illustrations are the same. The Tokyo Museum has a copy of this and Waseda a copy of the other; I can't find one outside of Japan.


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Photography - Japan. Portraits from photographs scrupulously hand painted to impersonate lithographs. n.p. [c1880-1890?]. Two sheets, 54x41cm and 60x48cm, with nine portraits all but one oval; each about 25cm - ten inches - high. Au$450

Are these the ultimate modern one-up-manship in family portraiture? Painted over photos are common enough and paintings from photos equally so but these are large scale, done from scratch purposely to mimic the grain of lithography. The stippling is so painstaking and exact that it would have been easier to make and print lithographs.
By the 1880's reaction to modernity and the west, by nationalists watching their tradition vanish, was strident and often powerful. Don't forget the western design of the residence of the new Imperial Palace was abandoned after earthquake damage to brickwork and the official carpenter took over. No small victory for superior Japanese traditions. The arguments over portraiture and photography are often unexpected, confusing and contradictory to me. Schools that I would think traditionalist welcomed the camera and realism - though some disliked photo portraits for moral or ethical reasons - but whatever the argument the photograph and its wedded industry - portraits painted in oils over or from photos - became ubiquitous essentials for the family shrine.
Our well to do family is not only on the side of western modernity, they go one step further by embracing the foreign technology of the lithographic print. So why hand painted on such a scale? Maybe partly because that's what a prominent family can afford but likely because portraits like this were still private family affairs. According to Conant (Challenging Past and Present), the painter Takahashi - portraitist of the Emperor - was thwarted in his 1880s project to paint portraits of the heroes of the Meiji by families refusing him use of their photographs.
The smaller set of portraits here is signed and sealed Hokushu. The other, clearly later, has an illegible, to me, seal.


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Patent remedies. [cover title]. A gathering of 19th century handbills or descriptive and instructive leaflets or wrappers for various patent, herbal or quack medicines. v.p. c1880 to c1900? 26 individual pieces bound to fold into a handmade board and stiff paper wallet style string tied binding, 28x18cm, treated with persimmon, hand lettered title piece. Some are quite large, some are printed on both sides and a few are woodcut. Au$1500

The work of the sort of collector who deserves a small shrine. Here have been carefully preserved the most disposable, awkwardly shaped and ephemeral records of a recondite corner in modern history: when drugs and cures became an industry.
At least one of these brands is still available: Chujoto for "Female Complaints" still alleviates menstrual pain. There may be others and I'll bet many are the foundations of current industrial giants. The only date I've spotted is Meiji 13 - 1880; Chujoto was apparently invented in 1893 (or by princess Chujo of the Fujiwara clan in a Snow White like tale) and some may be a little earlier or later.


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Architecture. Office Buildings [cover title]. A compilation of plates from the American Architect & Building News and some from the Architectural Review. n.p. [1885-1901]. Folio (34x24cm) contemporary half morocco (scuffed, front hinge cracking but solid enough); 146 plates mounted on stubs, some double page, a couple colour. Au$2250

A marvellous collection of high class plates from high class journals of new and planned buildings at the time America was busy inventing the modern city. The first plate is an 1899 elevation of the Boston Woman's Club designed by pioneer woman architect Josephine Wright Chapman in collaboration with her former boss, Charles Blackall. This was never built but the Worcester Woman's Club designed a couple of years later by Chapman is a truncated, refined version.
I'm near convinced this is a publisher's or bookseller's compilation, particularly since these are Boston plates in a Boston binding by Holzer. These plates were never disinterred from some pile of magazines. Plates could be bought singly or by subject from good journals, and publishers and proper booksellers offered compilations to order. What is special here is the office. I've never seen another like this and a run through the illustration lists of the journals through this period show that office buildings - despite transforming cities - were under represented compared with things like churches and country houses.


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Dokufu. Hanai Oume? Set of proof wood engraved illustrations for a Japanese serial story. n.p. n.d. [c 1887?] Oblong quarto by size (260x185mm ) contemporary plain wrapper; 41 wood engravings on 21 double folded leaves. A little browning. Au$475

A prime example of the strange casserole of Meiji Japan. In form, in technique, in content and in production these hold all the paradoxes of Japan embracing western modernisation while hanging fast to tradition. These are the illustrations for what seems a rollicking sword and sash thriller but ... it is set in a modern metropolis; bowler hats, suits and dashing mustachios are not out of place, neither is what looks like a railway station; and these are not ukiyo-e woodcuts for a popular novel, these are western wood engravings for a long serial - there are 41 after all - in a newspaper or broadsheet magazine; an illustration of such a paper helpfully holds a bough of blossoms in one illustration. The subject apart, the glaring difference between these and any western illustrations is the skill of artist and engraver, all but a few western counterparts are put to shame.
I'm convinced that these relate to Hanai Oume the celebrated Tokyo geisha-teahouse owner who, in 1887, stabbed her employee who, apparently in concert with her father, was trying to muscle her out of the business. The first illustration here shows two men holding umbrellas that, I'm told, advertise a restaurant or 'licenced pleasure quarter' remarkably similar to hers: Suigetsu. The umbrella was part of her claim of self defence: Minekichi attacked her with the knife, she disarmed him with her umbrella and then stabbed him.
Oume or O-ume - her professional name - was celebrity manifest, one of the three most famous dokufu (poisonous women) of the Meiji. Her murder trial was public and though crowds unable to get in became irate every moment was covered in the press; books were published within minutes, kabuki plays and novels performed and published, and the newspapers made rich. Yoshitoshi produced a famous print of the murder as a supplement for the Yamato Shimbun but while there is plenty of violence in these pictures there is no murder. Spin-off or fanciful concoction, there's a good story here.
There is an owner's (maybe artist's?) seal which I make out to be 春耕慢虫 - I'm sure I'm wrong.


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Hanai Oume. Utagawa Kunimasa IV (signed as Baido Kunimasa). [Hanai Oume]. Hasegawa Sonikichi 1888 (Meiji 21) Colour woodcut triptych, each sheet approx 37x25cm. Signs in the corners of removal from an album with a small bit of loss on a couple of corners. Quite fresh, with decent left and top margins. Au$450

I think this is the best of murder prints taken from the play 'Tsuki no Umekaoru Oboroyo' based on Oume's killing in the rain of her lover/employee in 1887. This made Oume one of the three greatest dokufu - or poisonous women - of the period. Yoshitoshi's small newspaper print of the murder has blood and a disturbing detachment between victim and killer and while Kunichika's triptych scene from the play is similar to this and makes more of the famous umbrella, this is more focused on murder and has the tension caused by the oblivious bystanders. Of course a serious dokufu collection needs them all but I'd be satisfied with this and Yoshitoshi.
Oume or O-ume - her professional name - was celebrity manifest. Her murder trial was public and though crowds unable to get in became irate, every moment was covered in the press; books were published within minutes, kabuki plays and novels performed and published, and the newspapers made rich.


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Baido Kunimasa [Utagawa Kunimasa IV]. [Meiji Kiken Kagami]. Tokyo, Hoeidi 1888 (Meiji 21). 12x9cm publisher's wrapper with title label (ink inscription on the back cover); 15 double folded leaves giving one single page, one gatefold quadruple page, and 15 double page woodcuts. Actually all but a couple of leaves are quadruple folded - the printed leaves around double folded leaves of heavier paper making the book tougher, made to be handled often. Au$300

A nifty little book, a portrait gallery of eminent figures of the Meiji. But captured in action, not the studio poses of so many 'Eminent Men' galleries. These are woodcuts but they are, with true modernity, cut to resemble engravings. Worldcat finds only the NDL copy.


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Charles Spencer. Fusen Nori Uwasa Takadono [in (Kabuki Shinpo - Kabuki News)]. Tokyo, Kaneko Genzo, Kabuki Shinpo Co., 1891 (Meiji 24). Octavo publisher's? wrapper with printed title label; three colour woodcut titles and 13 colour woodcut plates. Au$275

Kabuki Shinpo was a sophisticated Kabuki magazine that printed the texts of plays as well as gossip and critical pieces. It ran between 1879 and 1897 and was apparently issued in gathered volumes such as this; containing thirteen plays.
Here is one of the most fascinating of the period. Aeronaut Charles Spencer - of the Spencer aeronautic dynasty - came to Japan in 1890 with his balloons and parachutes performing his balloon ascent and parachute descent stunts in Yokohama and in Ueno Park in Tokyo in November 1890. He is said to have injured himself slightly having to avoid the royal tent during a command performance. Tokyo went balloon mad - again, they had a craze years earlier - and Spencer's performance was made into a Kabuki dance play - Fusen Nori Uwasa Takadono (Riding the Famous Hot-Air Balloon, see Brandon; Kabuki Plays on Stage) by premier dramatist Kawatake Mokuami - which ran for a month in early 1891. The Kabuki star Kikugoro V played Spencer with waxed moustache, hat - and in this print natty striped socks - and learnt a short speech in English for the finale.


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Exhibition, Kyoto 1895. Yoshiwara Takeo. [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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Ishii Usaburo. [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. The cover surfaces well grazed by insects, excellent inside; a rather good set. 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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Hikifuda. [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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Specimen Hikifuda. A large hikifuda - handbill - or modest poster for Kyoto haberdashery bargain sales. n.p. [Kyoto 190-?]. Colour lithograph 37x26cm. An outstanding copy. Au$450

This splendidly flamboyant and assertive modern young Japanese woman is unlike any other I've seen from this period. Being able to decipher phrases like "bargain sale" but unable to decipher the trademark or any particular merchant's name here I suspect this is a sample produced by or for Kyoto silk merchants and haberdashers. Being on much heavier paper than usual for hikifuda clinches the matter for me.


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Hikifuda. Hikifuda of a ship bedecked with flags with fireworks overhead n.p.[190-?]. Colour woodcut 37x26cm. A small blotch in the upper right side, a nice copy. Au$185

An undeciphered by me hikifuda - large handbill or small poster - featuring some nautical celebration.


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Hikifuda. Hikifuda of a boy sailor winning a horserace with a crown princess like mother and two other military children cheering. n.p. [190-?]. Colour lithograph 26x37cm. Minor signs of use, quite a good copy. Au$150

An exhilarating conjunction of sport, patriotism and those repulsive chubby infants so popular in the late Meiji period. I don't know what this hikifuda - a small poster or handbill - advertises but it is winning.


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Hikifuda. Hikifuda of a ship against the rising sun. n.p. [c1900?]. Colour wood engraving? 26x36cm. Minor signs of use, quite good. Au$200

This handsome ship hikifuda - small poster or handbill - advertises something I can't read. It uses the western technique of wood engraving, a technique that had a brief run in commercial printing between traditional woodcuts and lithography.


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Hikifuda. Benkyo Shoten? [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. [Shinshu Matsumoto Higashimachi Uetei]. n.p. [c1900?]. Woodcut broadside 28x24cm. A nice copy. Au$100

An intriguing and to me mysterious handbill from Matsumoto - a city in the Nagano prefecture in central Honshu. It seems clear it offers - in some rustic, or perhaps reverse way - what the well dressed man needs. Superior quality is promised but I'm stumped by all those series of numbers. They don't make sense as measurements to me.


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Specimen Hikifuda. ? [Yorozu to Kanbutsu Sato Sekiyu ...] n.p. [c1900?]. Colour woodcut 26x38cm. Rumpled with a couple of small repairs to the edges; quite decent. Stab holes in the right margin showing it was once in an album. Au$200

A bustling handsome print produced for merchants of imported goods. These hikifuda - small posters or handbills - were usually produced with the text panel blank. The customer had their own details over printed. In some cases, like this, samples were were produced with generic text to show the finished product.


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Hikifuda. [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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Hikifuda. ... ... ... [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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HOLME, Charles [ed]. Modern Design in Jewellery and Fans. London, The Studio 1902. Quarto publisher's printed wrapper (some wear to the spine); numerous illustrations (17 colour plates including one printed on silk). Au$150

A very useful survey of all that is new and beautiful in modern design in Europe and England: high art nouveau in France - Aubert, Bing, Grasset, Lalique, Mucha, &c; and national substrata such as arts and crafts in Britain - Ashbee, Jesse King; Mackintosh, &c; the Seccesion and Werkstatte in Austria and Germany - Olbrich, Mesmer, Anna Wagner, Mohring &c.
As with all of The Studio's efforts, the aim is education and advance; Holme says in his preliminary note, 'So long as a public is to be found that will purchase trinketry in imitation of wheel-barrows, cocks and hens, flower-pots, and moons and stars, so long will the advance in art be retarded'.


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Exhibition - Osaka 1903 [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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Yukawa Shodo. War Nurse from the series [Kinko Fuzoku Hyaku Bijin - 100 Beauties Past and Present]. [Osaka, Wakita Ainosuke?] c1903. Colour wood block print, 42x28cm. A little browning; with full margins. Au$375

Shodo's series is mostly dress up. He put his beauties into costume, gave them a prop or two, maybe a hint of background. And the majority are decorative and little more. But here and there are exceptions. A weaver hold us with her confident gaze, gripping her shuttle like a club, and a couple of his modern women are truly modern rather than mannequins put into trousers. A young student in hakama - men's wide trousers - reading while she leans against the window has the true defiant insouciance of a young woman going places and this nurse is nothing less than majestic with her implacable calm. This is a woman with a job to do. This is not a woman to be ordered about.
Most but not all prints I've seen from this series have the red numbers in Arabic and Japanese at the top which don't relate to the print's place in the series. Is this that French invention - a numbered limited edition? I've seen numbers up to about 130. Some also have a caption in the bottom margin; those I've seen have been both numbered and unnumbered.


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Hikifuda. [Kisha Seki Suiriku Nimotsu Unso Toriatsukaijo]. n.p. [c1904]. Colour lithograph 37x52cm. Old folds. Au$300

Freudians, symbolists and students of gay innuendo of the last century, eat your hearts out. Our artist beat you to every punch by years. The train may have left the cannon but the banner and torpedo suggest that another could be along soon.
This patriotic hikifuda - large handbill or small poster - advertising a transport company must date to the Russo-Japanese war.


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