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Important Collection of Early Japan Photographs, 1852-1920.

Important Collection of Early Japan Photographs, 1852-1920.

Important Collection of Early Japan Photographs, 1852-1920.

This group of some 3,100 early original photographs of Japan is one of the most important collections remaining in private hands. Portraits include, amongst others, those of artisans, Geisha, samurai, and the Royal Family. Cities, towns, and villages from Hokkaido to Kyushu are shown. Collected over a period of some 40 years, the photographs have been selected for their photographic quality or historical importance. The key Japanese and Western artists are included, and the wide range of photographic formats include daguerreotypes of the earliest-known portraits of Japanese, to a group of the first-ever mammoth-plate photographs taken in Japan. The collection consists of 3 Daguerreotypes (2 by Harvey Marks of Japanese castaways taken in San Francisco in 1851, and 1 by an unknown photographer in the 1850s); 15 mammoth-plate photos of Japan by Charles Weed; 13 other mammoth-plate photos by other artists; 28 high-quality albums of photographs - many of which are hand-coloured, including albums of Felice Beato, Baron Stillfried, Matsuzaki Shinji, Ogawa Kazumasa, Enami Nobukuni, Kusakabe Kimbei, Suzuki Shinichi II, Uchida Kuichi, Kanamaru Genzo, Yamamoto Studio, Usui Shusaburo; Plus 50 fine individual photos by Felice Beato; 112 studies by Suzuki Shinichi; 36 by Baron von Stillfried-Ratenicz; 35 by Uchida Kuichi; 25 by Ichida Sota I; 28 by Kanamaru Genzo; 16 by Shimooka Renjo; 15 by Ueno Hikoma. Also included are some 350 interesting stereoview photos; 250 cartes de visite; 35 glass lantern slides, etc.


Ueno Hikoma; Shimooka Renjo; Uchida Kuichi; Felice Beato; von Stillfried; Suzuki Shinichi; Kusakabe Kimbei; Enami Nobukuni; Ogawa Kazumasa; Matsuzaki Shinji; Usui Shusaburo; Yamamoto; Kanamaru Genzo; Charles Weed and many others.


Date Range: 
1851-1920 approximately


Collection – Highlights

This collection, put together over 40 years by one of the world’s experts in the history of Japanese photography, contains a representative grouping of historical works by most of the important Japanese and Western photographers of the 19th century. Many of the items are unique, and it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to put together again such an important collection. The following represents a sample of the highlights.


  • Three daguerreotypes of Japanese subjects -the earliest photographs in existence of Japanese. One of them being of (浜田彦蔵, Hamada Hikozō) September 20, 1837 – December 12, 1897) who was the first Japanese person to be naturalised as a United States citizen and the first to publish a Japanese language newspaper. Hamada was a castaway and was rescued by an Amercian ship in the Pacific and taken to San Francisco where he was photographed in 1851. These photographs pre-date Commodore Perry’s expedition to Japan.
  • 15 mammoth-plate photographs of Japan taken by Charles Weed in 1867. Weed was the first photographer to use a mammoth-plate camera in Japan. This is the largest collection of his Japan photos in private or institutional hands.
  • Rare and important photographs by Shimooka Renjo, Uchida Kuichi, Ueono Hikoma and many other important Japanese and Western photographers.
  • Many albums from the studios of Felice Beato, Suzuki Shinichi, Baron Stillfreid, Enami Nobukuni etc.
  • Various photo formats such as cartes de visitem stereoviews, glass lantern slides etc.
  • Rare album by Matsuzaki Shinji consisting of 118 photographs of the First National Industrial Exhibition 1877 (Naikoku Kangyo Hakurankai). No other album of this event is known to have survived.
  • A unique and remarkable album 363 Portraits of Meiji-Era Japanese Dignatories – including royalty, aristocracy, statesmen, members of the military, writers, scholars, actors and artists. In many cases, wives of the featured individuals are also included. Also present are photographs of paintings of a number of historical figures such as past emperors, shoguns etc. The photographs, in very good condition, are carte de visite size (approximately 8.6 x 5.5cm), captioned in Japanese and German and mounted seven or eight to a page in a concertina-style album covered in decorative Japanese silk cloth.
  • A group of 8 rare gold lacquer photographs by Mizuno Hanbei – the inventor of the process.
  • A group of 62 hand-coloured photographs of the shajo by Suzuki Shinichi. This appears to be the largest known collection of this important work.
  • An important group of 100 studies of Japanese works of art photographed by Wilhelm Burger during the Austro-Hungarian trade and diplomatic mission to the Far East in 1869-70.
  • A giant-sized (170 x 109 x 5 cm) Red-Lacquered Wooden Photographic Display Frame, 1890s, from the Kusakabe Kimbei studio. This unique item was probably used by the Kusakabe studio for advertising purposes. It makes an ideal museum display piece.
  • A selective and superior group of 250 carte de visite photographs each chosen for their historical importance.


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Important Collection of Early Japan Photographs, 1852-1920.


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