Seeking information on Koson variants

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Posted by Willie ( on September 20, 2013 at 23:00:16:

Hi All.
I am looking for any information or thoughts about the numerous variants of this Koson design. The print, Crow on Flowering Cherry Branch, was originally published by Daikoku-ya around 1910 according to most sources, and is print #46 in "Crows, Cranes and Camelias". While looking for other examples online I have come across at least three different versions of blocks used. The image I have attached is one (also found in the Smithsonian's Freer/Sackler Gallery) and two others can be found on the following page: (of the three shown the print from the Austrian Museum is different from the other two but does match the example in C,C and C.) In each of the three variants it appears to me that none of the blocks used for one rendition were used in either of the other two, leading me to think that this is not a case of worn blocks being replaced. The end of the crow's tail as well as the hair-like feathers at the base of the beak, the red leaves in the upper left, and the lowest blossom are each places to see clear differences.

So I wonder if a different publisher(s) may have obtained the rights to the design but not the blocks or did Daikokuya (or Koson) see the need to change the design ever so slightly, once or twice. I have not found a reference to another publisher and all the copies I have seen are sealed "Koson" so I imagine these are all legitimate prints. Does it make sense that the publisher or artist tweak the entire design with these subtle changes two times after publication? Whether this is the case or not, does anyone have any idea how to find the correct chronology to discover what was changed to what?
My apologies for another long-winded question but this has been bugging me for a while and I'd love to make some sense of it (if there is any sense to be made.)

Thanks very much for looking,


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