Re: How many prints exist?

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Posted by Richard Illing on April 29, 1998 at 21:29:24:

In Reply to: How many prints exist? posted by Ann D. on April 28, 1998 at 21:31:23:

: Hello-
: This is a wonderful and informative site!

: Can someone tell me how many prints were typically
: created of a single image? And is there any estimate
: of what percentage of 19th century ukiyo-e created
: survive today?

: I have a small collection of five ukiyo-e, which I treasure.
: I have never found any of these works listed anywhere
: and I find myself curious about how many duplicates
: are out there in the world.

: Thanks.

Nobody is quite sure and the publishing houses must have varied over the years and with current demand and popularity. The consensus is that the usual full run of an edition would have been about 200 copies as after this the woodblocks would tend to get soggy and fail to give good impressions. Clearly popular prints might be reprinted several times after the blocks had dried out and some nineteenth century prints, especially Hiroshige, were rehashed so many times that the blocks became seriously worn. On the other hand special privately printed surimono may have had only as many copies printed as there were subscribers or poetry club members.

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