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Unsōdō Publishing

Unsōdō Publishing (芸艸堂 版)


Source: The Hotei Encyclopedia of Japanese Woodblock PrintsAmy Reigle Newland, Hotei Publishing Company, 2005, p. 501.

Established in 1891 by Yamada Naosaburō 山田直三郎, the firm, still in business, is located in Kyoto's Teramachi district. In the Meiji era it was primarily known for its fine books of textile patterns, ceramics and papers. Their deluxe productions include Kamisaka Sekka's (1866-1949) Momoyogusa (A World of Things, 3 vols., 1909-10) and Takeuchi Seihō's (1864-1942) Masterworks, released over a five year period (1937-1942), consisting of sixty-six prints of the artists drawings and which has been called by Jack Hillier "one of the most magnificent printing achievements of the twentieth century."1  They also published numerous books containing collections of paintings by famous Kyoto artists. Fine woodblock-printed facsimiles of ehon are typical Unsōdō products from the Taisho and Showa eras. The company also produced a substantial number of original shin hanga prints, most notably over 100 designs of the artist Kasamatsu Shirō (1898–1991) from 1952 until 1960.  The company has recently reprinted Sekka's Momoyogusa from the original blocks and has started to issue a series of reference books on late Meiji pattern designs.

1 Ehon: The Artist and the Book in Japan, Roger S. Keyes, The University of Washington Press with New York Public Library, December 2006, p. 252

About Dating Unsōdō Prints and Margin Seals

Source: Ukiyoe Gallery website article by Thomas Crossland and Andreas Grund "The Seals of Unsodo Han"http://www.ukiyoe-gallery.com/unsodohan.htm

The earliest prints by the artists Kasamatsu Shiro (1898–1991), Asano Takeji (1900-1999), and Okada Koichi (1907-?) which were published by Unsōdō will always bear their original date of inception as "margin-dating" using Japanese "kanji" characters in the print's lower left margin (as on the left). It should be further understood by the collector that since this date is permanently carved into the print's black "key-block," any additional prints that might be needed with the passing of a few year's time will therefore still bear this "original date of origination." (It is quite likely, however, that the initial production run of typically 100 prints may well have fulfilled the publisher's inventory needs for a number of years.)

However, around 1960, Kasamatsu Shirō began to carve, print and publish his prints entirely by himself and his collaboration with Unsōdō therefore came suddenly to an end. At the same time, both Asano and Okada also ended their association with Unsōdō. At this time (approximately 1960), all existing blocks of these three artist's prints which were in the possession of Unsōdō had their "margin dates" permanently removed--they were simply carved off of the black "key-blocks." Hence, all later reprinted editions of Kasamatsu, Asano and Okada (and probably further artists) do not show any "margin-dating" after about 1960. Therefore, the existence (or lack of) a print's "margin-dating" gives the collector a fairly accurate rough determination at to the era the print was made. For any of these later editions which do not bear "margin-dating," the condition of the paper can give the experienced collector a fairly accurate guide as to the approximate age of a print.

More Information

For a wealth of first hand accounts of Unsōdō see the Ukiyoe Gallery website http://www.ukiyoe-gallery.com/newunsodo.htm and http://www.ukiyoe-gallery.com/unsodohan.htm

Unsōdō's own web page is http://www.hanga.co.jp/

"Unsodo is a specialist of Japanese woodblock printing.  From carving, printing, papermaking to binding, Unsodo can offer certain quality handmade woodblock print and book for appreciation."

The Various Unsōdō Publisher Seals

Source: website of Ukiyo-e Gallery http://www.ukiyoe-gallery.com/unsodohan.htm

from left to right:
Yugen gaisha Unsōdō han (Limited Company Unsōdō Publisher)
Yugen gaisha Unsōdō han (Limited Company Unsōdō Publisher)
Unsōdō han (Unsōdō publisher)
Tokyo Unsōdō han
Unsōdō han

stickers sometimes appearing verso of shikishiban prints

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