Japanese Woodblock Print Identification

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Posted by Lance Frazer ( on July 02, 2015 at 22:18:24:

I just purchased a set of four Japanese woodblock prints -- at least, that's what I'm assuming. I have no background in Japanese art, and neither speak nor write Japanese, so I am, admittedly, in well over my head. But here goes.
The first is printed on what appears to be some sort of very old paper of a type with which I'm not familiar (from what I've found, it appears to be washi). It's attached to a larger sheet of paper, and behind it is a tag reading "Original Print Guarantee by Sakai Co. Ltd. Established 1874 Yokohama Japan", and below it is written in pencil "Kuniyoshi 1797-1861." I have found one other copy of this piece -- "Wanting to See How One Looks", from the series "Auspicious Desires on Land and Sea" -- in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston (I say that without knowing whether it's significant or not). While I don't read Japanese, my close examination of the writing on mine and the one in the Museum leads me to believe that they have the same origins.
The second and third prints are also apparently quite old, but have no supporting information beyond what is on the prints themselves. They are about 11x17 and show significant bleedthrough of ink to the rear. The paper appears old, but the feel is of something not as finely made as the Kuniyoshi. The final one is smaller (about 10x15), and appears more finely made than the second one. It is also attached to a larger sheet of very aged paper, but carries no other identifying information. It is the only other one with colors added (in fact, the hat worn by one of the subjects has fine bands of gold through it). I have tried a number of image searches, and have also tried to find reference to the Sakai Company (a not-uncommon company name) with no success (the Sakai references are usually heavy equipment contractors, etc.) I would be very grateful for any and all help on these. They are obviously old, although I couldn't say how old, and still in nice condition. I would be happy to forward photos of any and all to anyone who might be interested, or post photos on this site, if I can figure out how. The photos are available at http://www.artconversation.com/forum/questions/64791-japanese-woodblock-prints-any-help-appreciatedy
My thanks in advance for any and all assistance.

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