Re: Dating "Ehons"

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Posted by D.J.M. on August 14, 2002 at 15:45:30:

In Reply to: Dating "Ehons" posted by Fabienne on August 11, 2002 at 16:34:54:

The question of dating Japanese books is very complicated, and contrary to what is popularly believed, most books cannot be dated precisely--even if they have dates in them--due to the sporadic nature of book runs (publishers didn't risk large editions in most cases, but produced books in small runs over a period of years as they needed them, not changing the dates unless the blocks were recarved.) I've even seen several Meiji editions with early Edo dates in them offered as early books (such books are still fairly common in Japan.) So you should look at meny books, early and modern, and train your eye, trusting what is well printed and beautiful, and not believing too much in printed dates.

For Manga, the question can be reasonably resolved by the quality of printing and paper, as well as publisher and other internal evidence. For the early manga volumes, there are earlier Edo runs (18teens), later Edo runs (1850s) and Meiji (1875 and early 1900s) runs. The quality of paper and printing differs dramatically, with the early runs being on richer paper with crisper printing and clean (not grainy) coloring). The Meiji books tend to be on harder paper, less absorbant of the pigments, and the 1900s edition is even of a slightly larger size than earlier manga.

There's a quick and easy litmus test for you to see if you have an Edo or Meiji printing: look for the publisher's address. If it says Edo, you're probably looking at an Edo printing (this holds true for Hokusai Manga, but not necessarily other books.) If it says Tokyo, then it's definitely Meiji (this info appears on the 1st and last pages).

Good luck.

: I've got a copy of the first volume of Hokusai'a mangas originally issued in 1814.
: What elements can help me dating my copy and in general "Ehons"?
: Thank you in advance.

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