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134 items found:

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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Hasegawa Mitsunobu. [Tobae Fudebyoshi]. n.d. [c1900?]. Octavo by size (235x160mm) publisher's stitched wrapper with printed label (cover somewhat marked); 42 folded leaves with 37 double page and two single page colour wood blocks. Au$165

Apparently a late Meiji reprint of this delightful series of caricatures that first appeared in 1772. Various libraries have taken stabs at the date, which range from the 1860s to 1903, but I think this has been confused by what seems to be an uncoloured 19th century reprint in a reduced size. And it's complicated further by apparently existing in coloured and uncoloured versions.


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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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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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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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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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Furuya Korin. [Take Zukushi]. Kyoto, Unsodo 1906 (Meiji 39). 18x25cm publisher's boards; 50 colour woodcut designs on 25 double leaves, accordian folding. Light signs of use, a rather good copy. Au$1650

Exquisite printing, with metallic inks and dustings of mica, of often exquisite designs by the foremost of neo-Rimpa designers. One of three independent portfolios of designs by Korin each devoted to one plant. This one is bamboo. The others are pines and plums. Korin, whose name is taken from the original master, started as a gifted but unsurprising designer - prolific and workmanlike in ambition compared to Sekka. But come the twentieth century - the final years of his life; he died young in 1910 - his albums of designs (rather than art) need no apology.


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Asai Chu. [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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Otake Kokkan. [Shogaku Kyoka Sugoroku]. Tokyo, Shonen Sekei 1907 (Meiji 40). Colour broadside 78x54cm. Quite a nice copy. Au$385

School life for small boys and girls; this was the new year gift from the boys' magazine Shonen Sekai. Boys and girls learn to read but then their ways seem to part: boys learn about rats while girls do flowers, boys learn to count while girls sew, boys write while girls fold paper. Otake by 1907 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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[Uenokoen Shimizu Do Saigo Nanshu Dozo no Zu] Tokyo, Tsunashima Kamekichi 1908 (Meiji 41). Colour woodcut 27x39cm. Rather good. Au$125

An almost sombre day in Ueno Park in comparison with the psychedelic colouring of cheap lithograph views of the time. Still, you can be sure that the photographer at work turned out less exciting views than this. The statue is of Saigo Takamori. Least said about him by me the better.


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Ogawa Usen [also known as Soju Usen]. [Soju Manga]. Tokyo, Hidaka Yurindo 1908 (Meiji 41). 255x190mm publisher's printed wrapper (some wear, spine chipped); [6],136;[4],[8]pp; woodcut illustrations throughout, a few colour, most printed in sienna. Originally stapled, the staples have perished; a used but very decent copy in a modern chitsu. Au$750

First edition of Usen's first book; a facsimile was published in the seventies. A lively collection of pictures, seemingly naive at times but as Hillier said of a later book - Sangushu (1921) - "The childlike naivete of the original sketches is ... actually the acme of sophistication ... the artist is as elliptical as the poet." (Hillier; The Art of the Japanese Book).
Usen hadn't yet attained the fame that brought the quality of printing his later work has but he makes up for that here with humour and imagination. Usen studied western painting before starting his career as a newspaper and magazine illustrator and is among the best of the generation of artists born and educated with the Meiji, soaked in both the foreign and the nationalistic reaction to the foreign, and determined not to step backwards into regurgitating tradition nor become mimics of the west. Some of his late work seems refined to the point of kitsch to me but when sleek expensive art journals publish articles in English on the hitherto neglected anarchistic aims of Usen's early work we know that he has truly arrived.
OCLC finds no copy of this outside the National Diet Library.


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Hikifuda. Tsumura Juntendo. - [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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Hikifuda - fashion. . A small hikifuda - handbill - advertising fashion from Kawaki Shoten in Ogawamachi in Tokyo. Tokyo [c1910?]. Colour lithograph broadsheet 18x19cm. Illustration on one side, text in blue on the other. An old crease. Au$65

Small but chic. Is the young dandy wanting the stylish but undeniably bourgeois family to move on or is that merely a dandy's customary expression of disdain?


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Teruha toiletry poster. [Hakuresui or Hakureisui]. A shop poster for Hakuresui toiletry to whiten the skin and remove blemishes. Osaka, Takegaki Shokai c1910. Colour lithograph 53x38cm on quite heavy paper. A couple of tiny edge chips, a near invisible repair to a short tear; a rather good copy. Au$1200

Among the myriad images that use race superiority and fear to sell goods - particularly soaps, toiletries and cosmetics - this is the weirdest and most hypnotic that I've ever seen. The weirdness intensifies if you know that the model is Teruha, maybe Japan's most famous geisha and pin-up girl at the end of the Meiji and through the Taisho period. Born Tatsuko Takaoka, in this poster she is about 14 and has possibly graduated from her apprentice name, Chiyoha. Sold by her father at 12, her virginity was soon sold to the president of the Osaka stock exchange and by the time she was 14 she had been engaged to one wealthy business man, promised to another and had a secret affair with an actor. The extended left pinkie finger must be a joke about her misguided sacrifice to love which earnt her yet another name: the Nine Fingered Geisha.
Before and after - or with and without - comparisons were nothing new in Japanese advertising. Neither were celebrities: courtesan prints sold patent medicines long before the Americans arrived and Bismarck adorned adverts for a patent syphilis cure that did for medicine what Bismarck did for Germany. Darkie - coon, nigger, whatever you want to call it - advertising images were obviously not unknown but neither can they have been familiar enough to be taken for granted and reproduced to the American and British formula in the way that the jazz age negro became a standard pattern to be played with by artists and designers in Japan as everywhere else. There is more than hint of a jovial tengu, spirit or minor god here, but for that suit.


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Specimen Hikifuda. Hikifuda of lucky gods driving a motor car. n.p. [1911]. Colour lithograph and woodcut 52x38cm. Stab holes in the margin show it was once in an album. Horizontal fold; quite good. The picture is lithographed, the calendar woodcut. Au$200

An extra psychedelic extravaganza in experimental colour showing lucky god Ebisu being chauffered by Daikokuten. These two did embrace modernity and had very good tailors as can be seen when the occasion demanded a smart suit or an even more smart uniform. Here they haven't dressed; it's just two friends on an outing. Maybe a joyride. I wonder whether it was good luck to have these two snaffle your car.
These hikifuda - small posters or handbills - were usually produced by publisher's with the text panel blank. The customer, usually a retailer, had their own details over printed. The handy calendar is for 1912.


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Hikifuda. Hikifuda of a woman driving a motor car. n.p. [1912]. Colour woodcut 53x37cm. Old folds, rumpling and a couple of small repairs. Au$800

A while ago I offered a 1914 printed hikifuda something like this and asked whether anyone had seen an earlier picture of a Japanese woman driving a car? Now the answer is: I have. Cars and planes were the password for modernity through the Taisho, especially in advertising like this, but sleek women were driven by sleek husbands or chauffeurs. This is radical stuff. It's not until well into the twenties that women behind the wheel became common. Common but not really acceptable. Cars were driven by Mogas - modern girls - louche young women with bobbed hair and short skirts: flappers.
The history of early Japanese women motorists, in English, is blank. Can some expert out there help? These hikifuda - small posters or handbills - were usually produced by publisher's with the text panel blank. The customer, usually a retailer, had their own details over printed. In this case it was Tamachi Taya of Kaneko-mura. The handy calendar is for 1913.


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Kawabata Ryushi [Nijuyon Toki Katei]. Tokyo, Fujin Sekai 1912 (Meiji 45). Colour broadside 54x78cm. A bit used, a few small holes in folds. Au$400

The new year gift from the magazine Fujin Sekai - Woman's World - charting the day in the busy but calm and most decorative life of the successful woman - wife and mother.
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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Ota Saburo. Asagiri. Tokyo, Seibido 1912 (Meiji 45). Two volumes 19x13cm publisher's colour illustrated wrappers; excellent in a mildly shabby publisher's box; illustrated in colour throughout. An outstanding copy. Au$1300

"A series of small colour prints of astonishing invention and charm," said Hillier in the 'Art of the Japanese Book' and there is no need to improve on that. Hillier was uncertain as to what is woodblock and what is lithography and I'm not sure it matters much. The tangle of western and traditional technique and discernment could take years to untangle with artists and books like this. The covers play with the popular sword and sash novels of an earlier generation for which some great artists did woodblock covers that put together formed a picture. Warrior on one and beauty on the other was standard.
Ota Saburo is among the best of the generation of artists who studied oil painting and refused to become western copyists, instead forging new a Japanese art which saw some of the most delightful illustrated books you could wish to see. Here he is gently subverting traditional Japanese forms for a radical end. The women are delicate and lovely but they are delicate and lovely with lovely big feet, capable hands and a hint of perspiration more than perfume.


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Design. An album of designs for textiles and/or paper. c1913-1920's? Large folio cloth [620x430mm]; 24 card leaves with 39 mounted original colour block prints (3 double page). Expected signs of use but nothing drastic; one print removed. Au$1200

Doubtless the designer's album of designs, these are proof prints from the blocks, each show the shape where the repeat pattern fits. The first pages are annotated with details of the client ('Achete a George. 9 Rue St Fiacre Paris' - in earlier decades this was the home of a calico manufacturer, which makes sense, and now houses a public relations firm and Ella Bache, which is neither here nor there) and the engraver (Gillet, sometimes in concert with someone else); the details dwindle as the album proceeds until we reach the large and dramatic geometric design in black and white which was "vendu a Mrs Bosset".
Dating these designs to 1913 would seem foolish but for the first few leaves being dated 1913 in the top corner; two or three are dull, traditional floral patterns but the rest, while by no means radical avant garde, would sit more happily in the next decade or two - some are really quite stylish. The theme is floral, or at least botanical although one is based on a Chinese cloud pattern; several are oriental in style or inspiration and one is a very stylish piece of Japanese abstraction.
I'm pretty sure this is the work of a Japanese designer in Paris, partly because it most recently came from Tokyo and partly because of the modern simplicity of several designs.


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Specimen hikifuda. Hikifuda of a woman driving a motor car. n.p. [1914]. Colour woodcut 52x38cm. Stab holes in the margin showing it was once in an album; a little browned and minor signs of use. Rather good. Au$500

Has anyone seen an earlier picture of a Japanese woman driving a car? I haven't. Cars and planes were the password for modernity through the Taisho, especially in advertising like this, but sleek women were driven by sleek husbands or chauffeurs. This is radical stuff. It's not until well into the twenties that women behind the wheel became common. Common but not really acceptable. Cars were driven by Mogas - modern girls - louche young women with bobbed hair and short skirts, flappers. The history of early Japanese women motorists, in English, is blank. Can some expert out there help?
These hikifuda - small posters or handbills - were usually produced by publisher's with the text panel blank. The customer, usually a retailer, had their own details over printed. The handy calendar is for 1915.


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Kobayashi Eijiro. [Taisho Shonen Sugoroku]. Tokyo, Shonen Sekai 1915 (Taisho 4). Colour broadside 54x79cm. A touch browned and minor signs of use; pretty good. Au$250

A gift from the boys' magazine Shonen Sekai and, as always with boys' sugoroku, packed with excitement and adventure. Girls sometimes get to watch in awe.


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