Posted by Noel Chiappa (220.127.116.11) on November 14, 2011 at 01:34:56:
In Reply to: Re: Hiroshige! posted by Mikael on November 13, 2011 at 20:23:46:
"if it was printed in the same year as the orginal design was realesed .. in the year 1854"
Until a reform during the Meiji Restoration (in which prints came - in theory, at least! - to bear both an exact 'publication' and 'printing' date), woodblock prints in general do not contain any information on when they were _printed_, only about when they were _passed by the censor_.
In general, it seems that prints were usually first printed fairly soon after the censor approved them, so if the censor seal says '18xx/yy', then it was probably first printed shortly after that. (There are counter-examples - one extreme example is the Hiroshige series which was only first published about 50 years after the censor approved the designs, long after Hiroshige was dead!)
However, there was no requirement to update that censor seal when new batches of prints were produced from the blocks, and we know that the blocks for some prints were sold from one printer to another, and continued to be used to produce prints for many years.
So, no, we do not really know when any of these pre-Meiji prints were actually printed.
In general, the whole concept of 'edition' is foreign to this stage (and even later stages, to be honest) of Japanese woodblock prints. A printer printed a batch of one particular print, and when they were sold, he would have printed more, and not made any note of any of that. Blocks were repaired or replaced if they wore out, and nobody much noticed or cared.
It was only a century or more later, when Westerners started to collect them, that issues such as 'original blocks' and 'early impression' even became an issue.
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