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177 items found:

VAN DER PYL, R. [Reinier van der Pijl]. [Igirisu Kaiwahen] Conversation of English Language; for those, who begin to learn the English. Third edition. Numadz, Watanabe 1871 (Meiji 4). 183x122mm publisher's wrapper with printed label (wrapper discoloured); title leaf and 50pp. Several annotations and corrections in pencil and ink. A nice copy. Au$350

I would elect this a pioneering piece of Chindogu (Japanese unuseless inventions) but that phrase books have a long history of being nonsensical. You may wonder at the lack of parallel Japanese translations in this and suspect that, illogical as it would be, a companion volume exists but it's all weirder than that. No Japanese-English version ever existed. This evolved out of a Dutch guide for learners of English, 'Gemeenzame Leerwijs ...', that was already out of date by the time it was reprinted in Japan in 1857. But it made sense that scholars of things Dutch could use it as a bridge to the fresh urgency of learning English. By the beginning of Meiji learning English was ever more important and Dutch obsolete so naturally enough the Dutch half is dumped and we are left with a series of quaint, stilted, often incorrect, exchanges of little use to anyone in Japan in the seventies.
I don't know how much van der Pijl is to blame and how much is local corruption. Nevertheless, three editions and the annotations show that this was used, carefully used. Waseda University helpfully illustrates its copy, likewise, but not identically, dutifully annotated, which all goes a long way toward explaining the Japanese approach to English for the next century or so.


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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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Elephant advertisement. - [Tenjiku Watari - Nama Taiho]. Yokahama? Sugiyama Kichizo [c1875-1883?]. Woodcut broadside 33x48cm. Folded, the printing somewhat rushed and blurred, a rather good copy. Owner's seal on the back. Au$500

A kawaraban - or news sheet - style advertisement for the great elephant show. There are at least four versions of this print. One, I haven't seen, is dated 1875 and one is dated 1883. I'm told the age of the elephant changes in each print - in ours he is eight - which should be a reliable guide to the date but it isn't. Waseda University illustrates another version of this, a better defined woodblock - in which we can see clearly that up on the howdah an acrobat is balancing a barrel on one foot - but less funny. In theirs the keeper is offering a handful of hay, in ours the pratfall has been caught. The finer detail and lack of joke indicates that theirs is the earlier version. I have seen one other copy of this print and it's as blurred as ours. The third version sits somewhere between the two in quality but in that the elephant is nine and the print is dated 1883.
Three or four separate woodblocks indicates these things were being printed as fast and plentiful as the impresario could churn them out. 1863 was the year of the elephant in Japan, the great Indian elephant drew squillions of spectators and the artists and printmakers went crazy. It wasn't the first elephant to arrive in Japan but it had been near 150 years since the last one. That elephant went on tour after a spell in Tokyo but surely our elephant isn't that same one? What I can make out of the text suggests it might be but that makes nonsense of the age. Certainly our elephant has progressed from being a drawcard by merely existing to being the star of a theatrical show. Sugiyama Kichizo was a theatre manager in Yokohama.


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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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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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Sugiyama Tojiro. [Bunmei no Hana] A Fine Story of Womans Right - the Flower Civilization [sic]. Tokyo, Kin'odo 1887 (Meiji 20). Octavo (19x13cm) publisher's colour illustrated boards and cloth spine; two single page and four double page illustrations. Expected browning of the paper, a fabulous copy. Au$1300

First edition of this remarkable utopian novel of women's rights in which a couple work towards and see the establishment of two equal parliaments, one for women and one for men. This was written in the period of anticipation for Japan's first parliament, scheduled for 1890. Radical as Sugiyama was, there is a sting in the tail for current feminists: Sugiyama is clear that women should be equal to men in all things right up until they get married. Equality for men and women does not mean equality for husband and wife.
Sugiyama published a rush of novels and political writing in the late seventies and eighties. These days he has been exhumed and is kept busy being rediscovered as a science fiction writer.
This is a 'ball cover' (boru hyoshi) book - a signal of modernity and the Japanese equivalent of a yellowback: flimsy western style bindings with lithograph covers that rarely survive in such good shape. Worldcat finds two locations for this, the National Diet Library and Berkeley.


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Japanese illustration. 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 sometime lover and 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. 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. 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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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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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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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 by publisher's 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$275

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 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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BINET, Rene. Esquisses Decoratives. Paris, Librairie Centrale des Beaux-Arts [c1905]. Folio, loose as issued in four fascicules in illustrated wrappers, all in publisher's portfolio of cloth backed illustrated boards; [2],14pp and 60 plates, 13 pochoir and a few others with a second colour added, b/w illustrations through the text. A rather good copy. Au$2000

Binet, like many architects and designers, followed Haeckel into the microscopic world for grotesque and fantastic inspiration but married such modernity with historicism in a singular way. Durant (in 'Ornament') calls Binet 'in many respects the typical French Art Nouveau designer' which, apart from being too dismissive, is just not right. Many of his designs, particularly the coloured graphics, are ultra modern high art nouveau but much of his work has an oddly arcane, recherche effect - in which something as modern as an electric light switch modelled on the forms of diatomes or radiolaria and treated with Beaux Arts tradition becomes a mysterious if not menacing almost gothic artifact. Without claiming anything of the same stature, or even similar results, for Binet he could probably be more usefully likened to Gaudi. This is an exposition of ideas for every school of design that Binet could encompass - from architectural detail to pochoir graphics; shop fronts to tapestry; stained glass to gardens; jewellery to mosaics.


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Takeuchi Keishu & Iwaya Sazanami. [Shin'an keiba Yugi]. Tokyo, Shonen Sekai 1906 (Meiji 39). Colour broadside 53x79cm. A nice copy with the playing pieces and extra bits intact. Au$125

In this steeplechase game - the new year gift from the boys' magazine Shonen Sekai - artist Takeuchi and writer Iwaya share credit. While that's not so uncommon with sugoroku I'm not sure what the writer had to do here. At the same time that Takeuchi was doing illustrations for children's magazines he was also producing refined ukiyo-e albums of porn. They look nothing like this.


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