Re: When Censor Seal were put

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Posted by Noel Chiappa ( on December 25, 2013 at 14:07:47:

In Reply to: When Censor Seal were put posted by Stefano on December 25, 2013 at 03:42:31:

Up until the Meiji Restoration, it was illegal to produce prints for sale without the censor seals. So any reprints (my term for 'later prints from the original blocks' - there is, alas, no consistent terminology in the field) or reproductions (my term for 'prints from new blocks') generally seem to have been produced with the original censor seals (because they had to have some, and why not the orginals, which were already in the blocks, is my _guess_; 'grand-fathering' of regulations is also probably not unique to recent times).

For instance, it's known that very late reprints of the 'Hoeido' Tokaido still have the original censor seals on them, not those of the year of production (since Nanushi seals came in in 1842). Although we don't know for sure when they were produced, a date after 1842 seems possible.

After the Meiji restoration, for several decades (I think), there was a requirement to have information about the publisher (at least on new prints), but I'm not sure what the regulations were for continued production of older prints.

Some reprints from the 1890s (e.g. of the 'Upright' Tokaido) definitely do contain _both_ the original censor seals (still in the blocks), _and_ the then-required publisher information (in the margins; whether from 'plugs' in the original keyblock, or from separate blocks, I don't know). Whether all reproductions/reprints from that period _had_ to have the publisher information in them, I don't know.

The legal situation in the 20th century with reproductions (I don't know of any reprints of 19th century prints in the 20th century, although some Yoshitoshi prints came close, I think) I also don't know about; at some point, I'm fairly sure the early-Meiji requirement for the publisher information to be in the margins was dropped. I do know that reproductions were being produced with the original censor seals in this period. Why? Probably to make them look more authentic, or something.

Like almost everything about Japanese woodblock prints, I would doubt very much that there is an absolute, hard-and-fast, rule on this.


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