"Zojoji Temple in the Snow"
Case Study



Here are 5 different copies of this 1933 Tsuchiya Koitsu print:

Print A
Publisher: Doi Hangaten
Carver/Printer: Katsumura/Itoh
Image Source: Marc Kahn
Print B
Publisher: Hanmoto Tokyo-do
Carver/Printer: N/A
Image Source: Ross Walker
Print C
Publisher: Doi Eiichi
Carver/Printer: Harada/Hamano (1995-present)
Image Source: Thomas Crossland
Print D
Publisher: Not shown
Carver/Printer: Not shown
Image Source: Hanga.com
Print E
Publisher: Doi Hangaten
Carver/Printer: Katsumura/Itoh ?? (Hard to see)
Image Source: Hanga.com

The main purpose of this page is to show some comparisons between prints A and B in order to establish that print A (with the Doi Hangaten publisher seals arranged vertically) pre-dates print B (published by Hanmoto Tokyo-do). Print C was printed by Hamano, who is well documented as having printed for Doi since 1995. Prints D and E above are included for reference, but high resolution images are not included.

In an article about Doi seals on the Ukiyoe-Gallery.com website, it is stated that prints labelled "Doi Hangaten" weren't produced until 1946 and that prints labelled "Hanmoto Tokyo-do" are probably pre-war prints. If it is true that print A pre-dates print B we will have to revise our history to say either that Tokyo-do was used post-war or Doi Hangaten was used pre-war.

I believe that the evidence is conclusive because:
** Both of these prints were printed from the same key-block.
** Gaps developed in the horizontal border lines on print B.
** Registration problems developed on print B.

Key-block comparison

Commentary on comparison of A and B

Ross Walker says, "The keyblock lines for these two prints come from the same keyblock. After comparing these lines at quite high magnifications (in Photoshop), there is far too great a similarity between the characteristics (shape, boundary curves, etc.) of each of the individual black lines for them to have been made from different keyblocks."

His methodology is to use a "Photoshop file with the two images overlayed so that you can compare the two by varying the transparency of the upper layer. This is about the only way you're going to see any differences between the two clearly."

Commentary on C

Print C in this comparison is not as high definition and is somewhat pixellated as a result of expanding it. However, it seems to have come from the same key-block as A and B.

Horizontal border gaps

The breaks in the horizontal borders on print B are the result of damage to the keyblock from printing. The key-block was repaired sometime between the printing of B and C. On C, the breaks are gone, but the smoothly straight line of A has become discontinuous as a result of the mended block.

Note that some of these breaks are also evident in print D, although it is hard to see in the low resolution image.

Registration problems

Prints B and C have some registration problems in some of the color blocks. The shadow block between the branches shown here is pretty bad. The cause of this is old blocks which have aged differently causing them to get out of alignment.

Artists seals

Here we can see that there was some re-carving that happened between A and B. I've got to wonder why they would re-carve the artist's seal and not recarve the block shown above which is so out of alignment.

Home  Copyright 2002 by Marc Kahn; All Rights Reserved