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Edo Period [1603-1853] Bakumatsu Period [1853-1868] Meiji Period [1868-1912] Taishō Period [1912-1926] Shōwa Period [1926-1989]

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A Compilation of Jokes

A Bag of Laughs

"滑稽 笑袋"

Murata, Tamesaburō [text by].

Tōkyō: Hakkōdō, Meiji 27 [1894].


A woodblock-printed collection of amusing mistakes and misheard words. The compilation, publication of which was certified by the Home Ministry, is almost entirely in katakana.


One leaf, complete. Creases, light foxing, marks, small hole and sticker removal. 24 ...

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An Authoritative Catalogue of Nanshoku Literature

A Bibliography of Nanshoku Literature


Iwata, Junichi [edited by].

Tōkyō: Koten Bunko, Shōwa 31 [1956]. First edition.


A detailed bibliography of references to nanshoku themes in Japanese literature by artist and researcher Iwata Junichi (1900-1945), published posthumously through the efforts of author and critic Edogawa Ranpo (1894-1965). This first edition lists a total of 1,093 ...

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An Unresearched Gōkan

A Book Bound in Abura Town: A Rapeseed Kibyoshi


Ryūtei, Senka [Tanehiko II] [text by]; Utagawa, Sadahide [illustrated by].

[Tōkyō]: Tsuruya Kiemon, Tenpō 5 [1834].


A gōkan about which no research in Japanese or English has been located, but which may revolve around bookbinding or publishing. The publisher, Tsuruya Kiemon, was based in Tōriaburachō, the well-known "book street" me ...

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Two Books of Sewn Amulets for Children's Kimono

A Book of Protection Crests

[Japan, ca. late Edo to early Meiji period (1850-1870s)].


Semon ("back crests"), also known as semamori ("back-protectors" or "back amulets"), were designs sewn into children's kimono to prevent evil spirits from attacking them from behind or to prevent the soul from leaving the body. These two books feature a total of 76 designs hand-sewn through the paper with threa ...

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Seven Woodblock-Printed Chirimen-e

A Collection of Crepe Paper Illustrations, Woodblock-Printed

Hiroshige, Andō ... [et al.] [illustrated by].

[Japan : publisher not identified, ca. 1920-40s].


A collection of seven colour woodblock-printed chirimen-e (crêpe-paper illustrations) printed in the Taishō to early Shōwa period, possibly earlier. The collection includes two large reproduced illustrations from Hiroshige's ‘Fifty-three Stations o ...

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A Collection of Fabric Oshi-e

A Collection of Fabric Oshi-e

[Japan: publisher and creator unidentified, ca. early to mid Meiji period (1870-90s)].


A collection of fabric representations (oshi-e (押絵)) of characters from ukiyo-e. The title slips and lines of characters' clothes appear to have been cut out from woodblock-prints and laid onto various pasted-down fabrics to bring the characters to life. Some sections of the figur ...

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Twenty-Three Kamon and Katagami Stencils

A Collection of Pattern Stencils for Fabrics

[Japan: creator unidentified, ca. late Taishō to early Shōwa period (1920-40s)].


A collection of beautiful stencils for dyeing patterns onto ‘happi’ [traditional Japanese straight-sleeved coats] and/or ‘haori’ [formal coats]. Most of the stencils feature ‘kamon’ [circular family crests], and would have been used for the b ...

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With Several Woodblock-Printed Postcards

A Collection of Postcards and Letters from, and relating to, Edmund Blunden

[Japan, England, ca. 1923-1930]. In manuscript.


A collection of two letters and two postcards from Edmund Blunden to English bookseller J.S. Billingham, along with four postcards from Blunden's Japanese students to the same bookseller, and two blank postcards sent to Billingham by Blunden. Blunden was the Professor of English at the University of Tokyo from 1924 to 19 ...

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For Irish Diplomat J.C. Hall

A Document on the Tokugawa Administration

[Japan, ca. Meiji period (1870-90s)]. Manuscript.


A manuscript on the Tokugawa shogunate's civil government system, previously owned by or prepared for the diplomat and eventual British Consul-General John Carey Hall (1844-1921). Hall, who was born in Northern Ireland, came to Japan in 1867 and worked in several different roles, including as an interpreter, Acting-Con ...

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A Ranking of Non-Mountain Mountains and Non-River Rivers

A Parody Ranking of 'Mountains' That Aren't Mountains and 'Rivers' That Aren't Rivers

"山でない山 川でない川 見立すもふ"

Nanritei [created by].

[Japan: publisher unidentified, ca. late Edo period (mid-19th century)].


A ranking of words and names (often those of brands) ending with yama ("mountain") that are not themselves the names of mountains, and the same for rivers (kawa). Nanritei (1782-1860) was a yomihon and gesaku author who lived durin ...

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A Ranking of Lies

A Parody Ranking of Lies


[Creator unidentified].

[Japan: publisher unidentified, ca. late Edo period (mid-19th century)].


A mitate hyōbanki or banzuke of oft-used lies. The 'winners' of the ranking are "the young person who says they hate women" and "the old person who says they want to die quickly" - these people are presumably accused of telling the mo ...

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An Unrecorded Sugoroku by Kokunimasa

A Sugoroku Game Featuring Various Animals

[A Sugoroku Game Featuring Various Animals]

Kokunimasa [illustrated by].

Tōkyō: Fukuda Kumajirō, Meiji 27 [1894].


A paper sugoroku game illustrated with various animals, by Kokunimasa. Kokunimasa was almost certainly Utagawa Kunimasa V (years of birth and death undetermined), who used the name Baidō Kokunimasa between 1889 and 1896. Many animals foreig ...

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A Scrapbook on Washi and Fabrics, by Uemura Rokurō

Album of the Activities of the Washi Research Institute

Uemura, Rokurō (compiled by).

Japan, ca. 1950s.


A scrapbook of tipped-in photographs and fabric samples compiled by Uemura Rokurō, a renowned researcher of dyeing and weaving. The scrapbook includes pictures of Dr. Hans Drissler (who founded the Japan Paper Import Company in 1924), Bernard Leach (together with the famous potter Shōji Hamada), and members of the Wa ...

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A Striking Night Scene of an American Steam Locomotive

Amerika-koku Jōkisha Ōrai

亜墨利加國蒸氣車往来 [Amerika-koku Jōkisha Ōrai, “The Transit of an American Steam Locomotive”]

Issen [Utagawa], Yoshikazu [illustrated by].

[Tōkyō: Maruya Jinpachi, Bunkyū Gannen (1861)].


This eye-catching triptych of an American "steam train" is believed to be based on an image of the Japanese embassy arriving in 1860 in Washington, D.C., fr ...

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In Stunning Blue Tones

An Aizuri Triptych of Washington, D.C.

"亞墨利加洲内華盛頓府之景銅 板之寫生"

Issen [Utagawa], Yoshikazu [illustrated by].

[Tōkyō]: Maruya Jinpachi, [ca. Bunkyū Gannen (1861)].


A decidedly European depiction of Washington, purportedly based on an (asyet unidentified) copperplate engraving. A scarce aizuri-e of a foreign scene by Utagawa Yoshikazu (active ca. 1850–70), a pupil of Kuniyoshi (1 ...

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Four Colourful Asahi Caramel Posters

Asahi Caramel

[Japan]: Asahi Caramel, [ca. early Shōwa period (1930-50s)].


A set of four posters advertising Asahi Caramels.


Four leaves. Creases, light wear, small marks. Lacking string attachments. Each leaf measures approx. 39 x 13 cm.


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An Envelope for 'Besto' Sugar

Best Sugar

[Japan: maker unidentified, ca. mid-Meiji period (1880-1900)].


A paper envelope used as packaging for "Best Sugar", a product from an unknown manufacturer. The illustration has been woodblock-printed and the Japanese characters lithographically-printed. The use of Roman characters was considered a popular and stylish addition to advertisements in the Meiji period.

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A Japanese Translation of Bringing Up Father

Bringing Up Father: Jiggs and Maggie, First Collection

"親爺教育: ジグスとマギー, 第一輯"

McManus, George [created by].

Tōkyō : Asahi Shinbunsha, [Taishō 13 (1924)].


The first Japanese language collection of Bringing Up Father cartoons by American illustrator George McManus. Another collection (believed to be the last collection published in Japanese) was produced the following year. The book includes a pream ...

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Two Advertisement-Calendars

Calendars for 1901

Ōsaka: Kōtō Saburō, Hisayama Yūkichi, Meiji 33 [1900].


Two woodblock-printed calendars for 1901, published in 1900 by two Osaka printers as advertisements for a rice store and a tuna store.


Two leaves. Chips to extremities, creases, and occasional small marks. 53 x 37.9 cm (left) and 53.5 x 35.4 cm (right).


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The First Cocktail Book Printed in Japan

Cocktails: Methods of Mixing Liquor


Akiyama, Tokuzō [compiled by].

Tōkyō: Akiyama Ryōri Kenkyūjo, Shōwa 4 [1929]. Fourth edition.


The first cocktail book published in Japan, with several original recipes inspired by Japanese themes. The novel and Japanese TV drama "The Emperor's Cook" was based on the life of the author, Akiyama Tokuzō (1888-1974), who worked u ...

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A Collection of Humorous Poems

Comical Great Poets Compared: Large New Edition of Elegant Words

"大しんぱん 大笑歌仙合 やさことば"

[Creator unidentified].

Gion, [Kyōto]: Yamasa, [ca. Edo period (early 19th century)].


A woodblock-printed collection of risqué poems, mostly about courtesans, published in the entertainment district of Kyōto in the early 19th century. The publisher, Yamasa, also produced kappazuri prints designed by Urakusai Nagahide in ...

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A Colourful Album of People of the World

Compilation of People from Overseas


Nagata, Nankei [text by]; Ikkōsai [Utagawa, Yoshimori] [illustrations by].

[Japan: publisher unidentified, preface dated Kaei 7 (1854)].


An album of people and traditional clothing from 42 countries around the world, with brief descriptions of the customs and geography of each country. The set was published as a revised edition of Nishikawa Jo ...

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An Advertisement for the Mysterious Men and Miss Nelly

Curieuse Soirée Fin de Siècle par Les Hommes Mystérieux

Lyon: G. Véronnet, [ca. 1880s].


An advertisement for a theatrical event in Lyon featuring the Mysterious Men, Miss Nelly, Sir Robertson, and Doctor Méphisto, on flat (non-crêped) paper with decorative margins printed in Japan. The illustration features a woman and a child looking up at two cranes while an elderly man ties his shoelaces, missing the sig ...

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The First German Primer Published in Japan

Die Ersten Lectionen des Deutschen Sprachunterrichts: im Gebrauch der Deutschen Anfangsclassen der Kaiserlich-Japanesischen Academie von Daïgaku-Nankō

Die Ersten Lectionen des Deutschen Sprachunterrichts: im Gebrauch der Deutschen Anfangsclassen der Kaiserlich-Japanesischen Academie von Daïgaku-Nankō

Daigaku Nankō [edited by].

Jedo [Tōkyō]: Daigaku Nankō, 1870.


The first German primer to be published in Japan, and the second German study book overall to be published in Japan (after 官版独逸単語篇 (Ka ...

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Diagram of a Western Book-Press

Educational Illustration Published by the Ministry of Education: Screw

[Kuniteru II (illustrated by).

Tōkyō: Monbushō Seihonjo, Meiji 6 (1873)].


An illustrated explanation of screws, featuring an image of a Western book press. One diptych from a series of prints published by the bookbinding division of the Ministry of Education in the 1870s.


Diptych, complete. Foxing, repairs to some wormholes, centre fold, a ...

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An English Translation of Two of the Chinese Four Books

Eiwa Shisho: Bessatsu Daigaku, Chūyō, Eibun, Zen

英和四書:別冊 大學・中庸 英文 全 [Eiwa Shisho: Bessatsu Daigaku, Chūyō, Eibun, Zen, “Four Books of the Chinese Classics Translated into English”]

[Confucius; Zisi (original texts by)]; Legge, James [translated by]; Imamura, N[agayoshi] [revised and translated into Japanese by].

Tōkyō: Z.P. Maruya & Co., Meiji 18 [1885]. "New edition".


Jame ...

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Four Hansatsu Notes

Four Hansatsu

Okada Domain, [Okayama]: Shichiya Kojimaya, Kyōho 17 [1732].


Four woodblock-printed hansatsu, feudal scrip used in the place of legal tender. These ginsatsu ("silver notes") each represent one monme (3.75g) of silver, and were issued in Kyōho 17 (1732).


Four leaves, printed on both sides. Wear, light soiling, creases. Each leaf measures 19.7 × ...

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Four Book-Envelope Designs from Sōshi Mon'yōshu

Four Sōshi Patterns

[Koshōtei, Sanjin (edited by).

Kyōto: Maria Gabō, ca. early Shōwa period (1920-30s)].


Four colour woodblock-printed reproductions of book-envelopes and wrappers of kusazōshi books, affixed at the edges to make one large leaf. The illustrations are probably from Sōshi Monyōshū (草紙文様集), a collection published in the early Shōwa period by Maria Gabō.

& ...

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A Game Sheet of 1904 Buzz-Names

Fukubiki Kuchinamari-e

福引口訛絵 [Fukubiki Kuchinamari-e, “A Lottery Illustration of Provincialisms”]

Nagoya, Aichi: Tsukamoto Sutesaburō, [ca. Meiji 37 (1904)].


This print depicting famous figures of the early 1900s may have been used as a paper "board" game for gambling. The illustration uses a bright red pigment characteristic of Meiji period prints and features mil ...

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An Early Japanese Cocktail Book

Hobby Cocktails


Momose, Susumu [text by].

Tōkyō : Kinseidō , Shōwa 8 [1927]. First edition.


One of the earliest Japanese cocktail books, containing information on the history of cocktails, notes on mixing liquors, illustrations of implements used in bartending, and, of course, many cocktail recipes.


Original boards, minor wear t ...

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A Scene from a Nanshoku Play

Honour in a Loyal Death: the Great Fire at the Hosokawa Residence


Kōchōrō, Kunisada [Utagawa, Kunisada III (illustrated by)]; Kawatake, Shinshichi III [original play by].

Nihonbashi, [Tōkyō] : Fukuda Kumajirō, Meiji 22 [1889].


A triptych by Utagawa Kunisada III (1848–1920) depicting the most famous scene from the kabuki play Tsutamoyō Chizome no Goshuin (蔦模様血染御書, “The Ivy-Patterned Blo ...

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Two Hundred Uncut Hyakunin Isshu Cards, Illustrated by Keisai Eisen

Hyakunin Isshu Karuta

[百人一首歌留多 (Hyakunin Isshu Karuta, “Cards of One Hundred Poems by One Hundred Poets”)]

[Keisai, Eisen (illustrated by)].

[Tōkyō]: Shiba Senichi, [ca. 1850-60s].


A complete set of two hundred uncut hyakunin isshu cards (one hundred poem cards and one hundred poet cards) in eight leaves. The publisher and printer was Shiba Senichi (芝泉市), ...

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A Movable Advertisement for an Exhibition of New Fabric Designs

Information on the Fifth Miyabi-kai

Kyōto: Miyabi-kai, [ca. 1920-30s].


An early Shōwa period invitation to an exhibition of fabrics with new dyeing and weaving designs held by the Miyabi-kai. Information about the location and time of the event appears in the illustration of the gramophone and its base when the lower moving section of the card is revolved.


One card, complete. Light di ...

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A Japanese Packet for Scottish 'Turkey Scarlet'

John Orr Ewing & Co. Best Turkey Scarlet: H. Ahrens & Co., Yedo, Yokohama & Hiogo

[Japan]: H. Ahrens & Co., [ca. 1870-1910].


A piece of packaging for 'Turkey red' (a colour used to dye cotton fabrics) with a lithographic label tipped-in. H. Ahrens & Co. was a German trading company based in Tōkyō with branches in Yokohama and Kōbe. John Orr Ewing & Co. was the name of a prominent Turkey red firm in Scotland.


O ...

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Mountain River on the Kiso Road: A Postcard Triptych

Kisoji no Yamakawa

木曽路之山川 [Kisoji no Yamakawa, “Mountain River on the Kiso Road”]

[Utagawa], Hiroshige I [illustrated by].

[Japan: unidentified publisher, ca. early to mid-20th century].


A set of three unused postcards delicately woodblock-printed with Hiroshige's famous illustration of the snowy Kiso Valley. Originally printed in 1857, Mountain River o ...

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Trials of Strength Between Celebrity Rivals

Kōkoku Raimei no Shokun Mitate Chikara Kurabe


[Katsushika?], Masahisa [illustrated by].

Tōkyō : [publisher illegible], Meiji 15 [1882].


An engrossing triptych featuring over three hundred famous people engaged in bouts of kubihiki. Kubihiki was a Japanese game in which a looped string was placed around the necks of two people and a trial of strength would ensue. In this work, cel ...

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Kyōsai's Drawings for Pleasure

Kyōsai's Drawings for Pleasure


Kawanabe, Dōiku [Kyōsai] [illustrated by].

Tōkyō : Takeda Den'emon, Meiji 14 [1881].


A delicately woodblock-printed album of 34 double-page illustrations of plants, flowers, and animals by Kyōsai. The theme of the set is uncommon for Kyōsai, who is more widely known for his satirical illustrations. Each volume includes seventeen double-pag ...

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A Women's Treasury of Loyalty

Mirror Mountain


[Yō, Yōtai (original text by)].

[Ōsaka: Ono'oka Jinzaburō, ca. 1900-20s?].


In The Women's Chushingura, a play first performed in 1782, the heroine Ohatsu, the loyal maidservant of the middle-rank lady-inwaiting Onoe, takes revenge on Iwafuji, the senior lady-in-waiting, for causing the suicide of Onoe. Rebecca Corbett notes that the pl ...

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A Picture-Puzzle Calendar

New Edition Puzzle-Picture: Days of the Old (Lunar) Calendar

"しん板はんじ絵 旧の月日"

[Japan: publisher unidentified, Meiji 22 (1889)?].


Egoyomi ("picture-calendars") were originally produced in the Edo period for people who could not read. Typically, months in the calendars were indicated by numbers on dice, and the Zodiac animals were used to indicate the first days of the months. Months with 31 days are listed underneath a ...

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A Vivid Chiyogami Paper Printed with a Metallic Pigment

New Patterns for Yūzen Dyeing


[Illustrator unidentified].

[Tōkyō]: Shiseidō, [ca. 1900-1920s].


A chiyogami paper illustrated with a design for yūzen dyeing of waves, flowers, and shallow sake cups marked with the character 壽 ("lucky"), woodblock-printed with a metallic pigment.


One leaf, complete. Browned, light creases, a few bumps to extremities ...

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Featuring Sir Walter Scott and Maruyama Ōkyo

Notable Figures from Japan and the West: First Series

"和洋奇人傳 初編"

Jōno, Takashige [text by], Ochiai [Utagawa], Yoshiiku [illustrations by].

Tōkyō : Sanshobō , Meiji 5 [1872].


An international take on the kijinden ("eccentric figures" or "extraordinary figures") genre, featuring portraits and brief biographies of a total of 37 Japanese and Western figures, including Alexis de Tocqueville, John Britto ...

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An Art Dealer's Advertisement Depicting the Tokugawa Shōgun at Nikkō

Objets d'Art Authentiques du Japon, de la Chine et du Tonkin

Luchon: Sarthe, [ca. 1909].


An advertisement for the Japanese, Chinese, and Vietnamese wares of antiquities dealer M. Armand Loge, who is known to have published a catalogue of East Asian art objects including carved woods, bronzes, weapons, ivories, netzuke, lacquers, and inrō from the Collection Rabeuf in 1909. The name Tagawa-ya in the bottom left of the print is proba ...

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On the History of Christianity in Europe

On the True Spirit of Europe


Church, R.W. [original text by]; Miyagawa, Tsuneteru, Doi, Michiyo [translated by].

[Japan]: Beikoku Seikyō Shorui Gaisha, Meiji 18 [1885].


A Japanese translation of a text, possibly by Richard William Church, on the history of Christianity in Greece, Italy, and Germany. Miyagawa Tsuneteru (1857-1936), one of the translators, was a Christian m ...

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Paper Guides for Sewing Shoes or Socks

Paper Guides for Sewing Tabi or Jika-Tabi

Ōsaka: [Yamakichi?], ca. early Meiji period (1870-90s)].


A set of three paper templates for cutting materials to make tabi socks or jika-tabi (shoe-like tabi), woodblock-printed with instructions. The templates have been sewn together and may have been sold as a set in this format.


Three templates, sewn together, with an accompanying hand-inscribed ...

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A Collection of Twenty Protection Amulets

Paper Mamori Collection

[Japan: publishers unidentified, ca. Edo period (19th century)].


A collection of twenty woodblockprinted mamori, woodblock-printed paper amulets usually sold at temples and shrines. Most of the amulets record what the buyer will be protected from, and several are enclosed in woodblockprinted 'envelopes'.


Twenty paper amulets. Creases, mark ...

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Boy with Camera

Photograph of a Boy Preparing to Take a Photograph

[Japan]: Shimomura, [ca. late Meiji to Taishō period (1900-20s)?].


An unusual image possibly featuring the son of the photographer.


One card, photograph tipped-in. Scrapes, light foxing, a few marks. 24.2 x 18.3 cm.


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An Advertisement for Pyramid Cameras

Pyramid: 'Best Model Extending Device'

Tōkyō: Mizuno Shōten, [ca. Taishō to early Shōwa period (1910-30s)?].


An advertisement for "Pyramid Best" cameras.


One leaf. Creases, paper lightly browned. 19.2 x 14.4 cm.


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An Illustrated Description of “Dr. Sanden's Electric Belt”

Sanden Denki Obi Zukai


[Illustrator not identified].

[Japan : Sanden Denki Shōkai, ca. late Meiji period (1903-1907)].


A lithographically printed advertisement for Dr. Sanden's ‘Herculex’ electric belt, a device supposed to give vitality and restorative powers to those who wore it. The Sanden Electric Company, founded by Albert T. Sanden in Am ...

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A Silhouette Print of Monsters and Ghouls

Shinpan Andō Utsushi-e


Kobayashi, Eijirō [Ikuhide].

Bakurochō, [Tōkyō] : Higuchi Gintarō, Meiji 14 [1881].


A woodblock-printed omocha-e (toy print) featuring a mixture of silhouettes of people, monsters, and spirits. There are 47 silhouettes in total, including those of two rokurokubi (monsters with long necks), a kasa-obake (umbrella spirit), a monster whos ...

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A Silhouette Print of People and Animals

Shinpan Utsushi-e

"志ん板 うつしゑ"

[Illustrator not identified].

[Tōkyō : Tsujikame-ban, ca. early to mid Meiji period (1875-1895)].


An utsushi-e (projection picture) of 53 silhouettes of people and animals. People in varying professions are pictured, including a jinrikisha (cart-puller), a samurai, and a walking salesman. Children and a variety of animals are also featured, ...

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Classic Illustrated Books Modern Art and Design Books Translations of Western Texts Japanese Literature Prints and Ephemera Western Books Photo Books Paintings & Scrolls Australia & New Zealand Others


Australia New Zealand Antarctica Japan Korea China Other


Edo Period [1603-1853] Bakumatsu Period [1853-1868] Meiji Period [1868-1912] Taishō Period [1912-1926] Shōwa Period [1926-1989]

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