Hasui Travel Series Stamps & Seals
some questions asked and answered

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Questions:

I have two questions about the editions and dating of Hasui Kawase's prints:

(1) I have the 1990 exhibition catalogue of Hasui's prints from the Yamanashi Prefecture, which lists the titles of his print series, as well as the catalogue from the Emerson Museum of Art exhibition. I note that some prints have a series title in addition to the title of the print and the date; prints from later editions do not. Ergo, can I assume that a print with a series title is perhaps a first edition or printing?

(2) I am quite familiar with the dating system described in the Emerson Museum exhibition catalogue based on the Watanabe seals. Presumably in 1924, Watanabe abandoned the circular seal in the print (until 1957) in favor of a number of seals that were located in the margins. However, I have seen prints dated 1924 and 1925 (Taisho 13 and 14) with circular seals and the series title. As an example, see print #40 (Suhara in Kiso District) in the Emrson catalogue. This print has a circular seal in the lower left hand corner as well as a series title (faintly) above the title of the print. Is this print a post World War II impression, or is it an early edition from 1925? Thanks for your help!

signed,

Curious


Answers:

Dear Curious,

Yes, series stamps appear to have been used only on early editions of Hasui's travel series prints. We've heard it mentioned that these stamps were simply omitted on prints intended for export or to be sold to tourists. Maybe so, but this (possibly disingenuous) explanation is also consistent with the idea of stamps not being placed on subsequent, if still perhaps "early", printings.

So the print you mention is indeed early. The 6 mm "Wa-ta-na-be" seal was discontinued for Hasui prints not in 1924 but more like early 1926 (see below), being replaced by the then-necessary copyright seals. A good basic discussion of common seals can be found at hanga.com's seal page and many of these travel series prints can be viewed online (in date order) at their Hasui page.

Our two cents worth is that the 6 mm appears to have been used to complete the Nihon Fukei Senshu series (Selection of Scenes of Japan, 1922-1926, N82 to N117). The last print, N117, is the only one dated 1926 and so presumably was made early in the year. At that time the next series, Tabi Miyage (Souvenirs of Travels, third series, 1924-1929, N118 to N146) was already up to N130, having also used the 6 mm thus far. So we see the "A" copyright seal starting from N131, in early 1926.

For a (mostly) exact account of which prints bore the 6 mm during the post-Earthquake years, see "doggles" on eBay who occasionally graces us with his very useful reference guide. This guide gives the seals visible in Narazaki, a book which depicts (mostly) very early printings. [ Our members can view it here. ]

P.S. -- The 6 mm was discontinued for almost all Watanabe artists; many of Shinsui's bijin-e are exceptions.

P.P.S. -- The 6 mm came back onto Hasui prints after WWII, not in 1957. You're probably thinking of the 7 mm seal, which many collectors believe was introduced after Hasui's death in 1957.

P.P.P.S. -- That's Everson, not Emerson.

For more P's and S's please feel free to contact us. Stay curious!


Heartwarming Reply:

Thanks a million for your very helpful response! It does clarify two questions that I and a number of friends who collect Hasui's prints have puzzled over for several years.

signed,

Curious

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