Posted by hess on June 11, 1999 at 21:11:05:
In Reply to: Yoshida Signatures posted by kmadsen on May 15, 1999 at 02:49:10:
: Can anyone explain why Yoshida Prints with Jizuri Seal sometimes have the title and signature impressed, sometimes just the title impressed with a pencil signature, and sometimes both the title and signature in pencil? What is the relative value of prints in these three cases? Was he consistent within an edition as to how the prints were signed and titled? What are the relative values of posthumous prints with an impressed signature and those with none at all? For how long after his death were posthumous prints made? Please recommend a good reference on Hiroshi Yoshida.
Mr. John Fiorillo's follow-up is excellent and i would like to add to it.
Value of any Japanese print is determined by many factors, but this will focus only on authenticity.
The earlier the impression the greater the value of a print simply because the wood blocks are fresh, the printer is focused on quality and detail, and the prints will be rarer.
Hiroshi Yoshida was quite prolific. As evidenced by the seemingly endless supply of lifetime "jizuri" seal images that one sees repeatedly. True, certain images (before 1927, and especially pre-earthquake) are scarce, but we see over and over the same images from 1937 and later, especially post WWII images. An early impression (printing) is superior when compared to later (still lifetime) prints and thus will carry a higher price. Later lifetime (jizuri seal) impressions are neither as crisp nor as vibrant as early impressions. This is the nature of the woodblock print medium. Later impressions are often shadows of the early images. Usually (for pre-1937 images) Hiroshi Yoshida would both pencil sign and title the earlier production prints (prints intended for Japanese consumption were without Western script = pencil notations). The later prints were cranked out using plate titles and Yoshida would pencil sign these later impressions en masse. During WWII, almost all of his images were plate titled, but still received a pencil signature. After WWII, the earliest printings would be titled in pencil. Some jizuri seal prints (post WWII) are so poorly executed that a post-humous printing is superior. But as a rule, the jizuri seal is the seal of money. Yoshida's prints (post-1929 images) have not appreciated in value as they should simply because of the large quantity produced of each image. But early printings of these images in mint (as new) condition will command a higher price than a weak later mint impression of the same image. This holds true for the majority of prints offered by knowledgeable print dealers to knowledgeable Japanese print collectors. If you were to see an early impression next to a late lifetime impression of a Hiroshi Yoshida image (both in the exact same condition), you would immediately recognize the reason(s) for the value varitation.
So, follow the guidlines of Mr. John Fiorillo (who does an incredible job posting free and expert information to this forum), but realize that the basic premise of Japanese print collecting (after the 3 C's; condition, condition, condition) is edition (impression). A jizuri seal is great but only the beginning for determining value.
As to "why pencil versus plate titles within jizuri seal production" the answer is simply the availability of the artist to pencil title the print combined with where the print was in it's production. The artist was usually around the initial printings of an image and would sort through and approve which prints were deemed worthy of the jizuri seal. The artist would pencil sign and title those prints for Western consumption. Each night (or at the end of the printing day) the artist would sign stacks of prints which were usually plate titled. Why? The first printing of an image would be done over a few days (usually 100 to 250 printings). When ready, these prints would go out for sale and the wood blocks put away. As demand for this new image required, the wood blocks would come out and more prints would be produced. The extremely popular images would begin to receive plate titles
as it was too tedious for the artist to pencil title each one. It was easier for the artist to only pencil sign the prints in the stack before him than to remember and pencil precisely the title. Keep in mind that many of Hiroshi Yoshida prints were produced in the 1000's during his lifetime and bear the jizuri seal. And one thing that everybody forgets to tell you is that Hiroshi Yoshida was still printing his earlier (post-1925) images near the end of his lifetime. The Hiroshi Yoshida studio produced prints for demand.
The standard reference (the catalogue raisonne) is published by ABE Publishing Co.; "The Complete Woodblock Prints of Hiroshi Yoshida" which should be available from any Oriental book supplier between $40- (suggested retail) and up. There are two recent books on Hiroshi Yoshida, but i just prefer the photo quality of the prints in the ABE book.
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