Re: Hiroshige date? Thanks a million!

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Posted by Marc Kahn ( on December 25, 2014 at 13:36:02:

In Reply to: Hiroshige date? Thanks a million! posted by Chip from Rhode Isla on December 20, 2014 at 17:02:59:

Hi Chip,

That's an artist seal, not a censor seal. I've been intrigued about your print since your first posting on 12/18/2014. It is indeed signed "Hiroshige ga", but stylistically it looks to me like a shin-hanga print, designed and printed in the early 1900s, well after the death of all of the various Hiroshiges. I resisted posting here about it because I'm not 100% sure, but I'm pretty sure, so here goes.

In the early 1900s, Hiroshige prints were all the rage amongst Westerners. It was a time that Western tourists came to Japan in increasing numbers, and on many of their want-lists was the ambition to bring home a Hiroshige print. Unfortunately, all of the authentic prints by that artist were long gone to serious Western collectors.

The enterprising print publishers of the day knew a sweet opportunity when they saw it! They made lots of new print designs with Hiroshige's signature on them and sold those to the Western tourists.

That's what I think your print is... a shin-hanga print fraudulently signed "Hiroshige". That's the bad news. The good news is that it's a pretty nice shin-hanga print and if you can accept it as such, it's just fine.

There are actually some ardent collectors of knock-off and fraudulent prints. Typically, they have very nice production values, and they can be had inexpensively in today's marketplace.

Like I said, I'm not 100% sure of this, and I would welcome someone showing me that I'm wrong if that's the case. But, I don't think that anyone is going to be able to document your print as a legitimate Hiroshige design.

Marc Kahn

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