Re: Paper type--useful for dating prints?

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Posted by Paul Schumacher on January 02, 1998 at 15:25:22:

In Reply to: Paper type--useful for dating prints? posted by Thomas Crossland on December 30, 1997 at 08:15:17:

: Most of the Japanese prints I have purchased are printed on a type of paper that when held up backwards to a light reveals very narrow, evenly-spaced parallel "white/transparent" lines vertically about every inch. What type of paper is this, and specifically, can it be used to help date/authenticate a print? Do you know over what time/date period was this paper produced/available? (I have heard that many of Hiroshige's prints were reproduced--known as "fukusei"--at a much later date than the originals--often from newly cut blocks. Apparently this practice was widespread during about 1895 to 1905??) Can paper type help us out here? Thanks very much for your insights to this most fascinating pursuit.

The dating of prints, and separating originals from reprints and reproductions is a minefield for collectors. On the subject of waterlines on paper, Basil Stewart noted in his Guide to Japanese Prints and Their Subject Matter (1922):
"Another source of error in judging the age of a print solely by its appearance lies in the water-lines, which appear in old prints in good, clean condition, and which can be seen in any "laid" paper of present-day manufacture. Prints as far back as 1700 have these water-lines in them. The water-lines in modern paper merely represent the attempt of the present-day manufacturer to copy the Japanese, because Japanese paper is recognized as being the best in the world."
Stewart's book is still available in a Dover paperback.
Consider also that lined water-mark paper was often used for album backing, and a thin original print may be be mounted to the backing paper.

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