~~ Book 1892160530 ~~

Ayame San, A Japanese Romance of
the 23rd Year of Meiji (1890)

James Murdoch, W. K. Burton
Kazumasa Ogawa, c1892
Sampson Low, Marston imprint

 


Sampson Low, Marston & Company - London

 
Condition. The book is in Good condition. The covers are soiled and chipped along the edges. The boards are not detached as is the norm for this book. There is a large water stained area at the bottom left of the back cover. The spine covering is present but missing or eroded in places, particularly at the head and foot and broken along the edges where it meets the boards. The binding is intact. Internally there is sporadic foxing. Free of writing (except inside of the front free page) or staining. The book is in better condition than normal for this book.

 
Murdoch, J. (A.M.)
Burton, W.K. (photographs)
Ogawa, K. (photographs & photomechanical reproductions):
Ayame San, A Japanese Romance of the 23rd Year of Meiji (1890), London, Sampson Low, Marston & Company, Ltd, c1892, 8vo (6 x 9 in), cardboard covers with paste on illustrated paper, cloth covered spine, photographs taken primarily by Kazumasa Ogawa and W. K. Burton, 77 text illustrations, 3 of which are full page, 2 pp errata, 310 pp. While the front and back covers have cord ties, these are ornamental only and merely attahced to the front and back boards.

The book is a romance type novel set in Japan of the late 1880s and early 1890s. The lead characters are O'Rafferty - an Irishman, Gifford - an American of Scottish descent and Ayame-san, a fair Japanese lass. Ayame-san learned English from a "faymale" missionary. Through the eyes and interaction of these three characters, Murdoch gives the reader a wonderful view of Meiji Japan and the interaction between the relatively new arrivals (Westerners) and their hosts. Ayame-san's romance was not with either of the foreigners. She ultimately married Ishida Taro, an rising Japanese politician. While the numerous high quality images do not actually reflect the plot, they are sometimes loosely related to the text. They were clearly selected with great care to provide the reader a comprehensive visual image of Japan.

 
Printers and Publication Date: I have seen this book with three different title pages.

  • Kelly & Walsh, Yokohama (title page carries date of 1892)
  • Sampson Low, Marston & Company, Limited, London (no date on title page)
  • Walter Scott, London (no date on title page)

I have listed the imprints in the order of frequency that I have observed on the market. Kelly & Walsh seems to be the imprint most frequently offered while the Walter Scott imprint is seldom seen. Aside from the title page, the books are essentially identical. None of the books I have seen carry a date of publication. Wenckstern gives 1892 as the year of publication in Yokohama (no publisher stated) and notes the book was sold for $6.00 in a wooden box. I presume the books with the two London imprints were produced in the same year. I suspect all the books were printed and assembled in Japan with the various imprints above.

 
Illustrations/Half-Tone Reproductions.

The title page credits the illustrations to W.K. Burton with printing by K. Ogawa. However, in an acknowledgment statement directly behind the title page, Burton states:

I beg to acknowledge my indebtedness to Mr. K. Ogawa for some of the best illustrations in the volume; also to Professor C.D. West of the Imperial University and to Mr. G. Brinkworth for one photograph each. So far as I am aware this is the first book that has been illustrated with true half-tone photo-mechanical reproductions printed with the letter-press.

I believe that the noted photographer, Kazumasa Ogawa, contributed extensively to the illustrations in the book and Burton was trying to correct the title page which gave him sole credit in this regard.

K. Ogawa's printing facilities were used to create the halftone illustrations. The images in the book are not what you typically envision from a half-tone process. They do not have the dot screen you normally associate with that type of reproduction. Instead the images are remarkably similar to those created by the higher quality collotype process for which Kazumasa Ogawa was widely respected. I believe that the images in this book were produced by a halftone process known as Meisenbach process. They are not a crisp and clear as collotypes but lack the screen pattern often seen in other halftone screen process.

Covers and Bindings. The book has relatively inferior covers and bindings. The front and back boards are thick cardboard upon which thin illustrated paper has been affixed. The cover illustrations appear to be color woodcuts. The front and back covers are tied to the body of the book by the hinge of the front and rear end pages. The insides of the boards and the first and last end pages are illustrated in color. There is no attachment to the spine. This is a very flimsy attachment of the covers. There are two crossed strings on front and back cover. However, these are ornamental only and they are merely affixed to the boards. These stings do not extend through the text blocks as sting ties in Japanese books generally do. The spine has a thin cloth covering. The text block of book is composed of numerous small sections/signatures which are joined together by 5-6 thin strings. The book is 1+ inch thick. When you combine the flimsy bindings and thin spine covering with the thickness of the book, it is very usual (perhaps the norm) to find the book with boards detached or partially detached and the spine cover missing or badly deteriorated. The books were sold with a thin ribbon bookmark inserted (generally red or blue). Often the book is seen without the bookmark but with the color stain line left by it.

James Murdoch (1856-1921). James Murdoch first traveled to Japan in 1889 where he worked as a teacher in a series of high schools around the country. In 1893 Murdoch left Japan for Paraguay but he later returned. Although he did not begin to study Japanese until he was almost 50, he eventually became proficient in both modern and classical Japanese. He returned to Australia in 1917 and passed away in 1921. Murdoch is best known for his three volume A History of Japan (London, Kegan, Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., 1926). Murdock often used the initials "J.M." and "A.M." as identification in his works. In June of 1890 Murdoch published a satirical verse, Don Juan's Grandson in Japan. He also published a weekly magazine, The Japan Echo, which lasted for only six issues (Nov 1890 through Jan 1891). Georges Bigot contributed art to that periodical. In 1892 Murdoch published From Australia and Japan (3 editions recorded).

W.K. Burton. For information on Burton and his publications, click here.

For information on Kazumasa Ogawa, click here.

 
Examples of Illustrations.

Text Illustration.

Text Illustration.

Full Page Illustration.

Close-up here

Full Page Illustration.

Close-up here

Text Illustration.

Text Illustration.

Text Illustration.

Text Illustration.

Text Illustration.

Text Illustration.

Text Illustration.

Full Page Illustration.

 
Titles (my descriptive titles, no title on
actual illustrations) of all 77 Illustrations
.

Number  Page

  1. 1 Sea and Land
  2. 8 Sea
  3. 10 Sailing Ship
  4. 14 Sea
  5. 15 Cliffs
  6. 18 Sumo Wrestlers
  7. 19 Sail boat
  8. 23 Sails vessels in harbor
  9. 26 House
  10. 33 Sails vessels
  11. 35 Sails vessels, children in water
  12. 38 Mount Fuji
  13. 40 Giant Buddha
  14. 44 Sea and small island
  15. 45 Boy with a large crab mounted on board
  16. 48 Young woman with mirror
  17. 52 Three young women dancing
  18. 57 Sail boat in small bay
  19. 58 Three young women
  20. 62 Tree lined pond
  21. 63 Pond with stone bridges
  22. 64 Interior of house, vase with flowers -- Full Page Plate
  23. 68 Three ladies dancing
  24. 69 Lady in kimono -- Full Page Plate
  25. 74 Three ladies bowing
  26. 80 Pine tree overlooking bay
  27. 82 Sails vessel, Japanese style
  28. 84 Male archer
  29. 90 Three young women
  30. 102 Small Japanese sail boat on lake
  31. 106 Woman on balcony overlooking houses with grass roofs
  32. 109 House with grass roof
  33. 122 Three young women dancing
  34. 124 Old man on horse
  35. 133 Swords mounted on display rack
  36. 137 Street scene
  37. 138 Road with wagons
  38. 138 Temple
  39. 142 Woman playing koto
  40. 145 Public field
  41. 151 Japanese sailing vessel
  42. 162 Two women on balcony over looking village
  43. 164 Village
  44. 166 Village with stream in foreground
  45. 178 Japanese woman with koto in background
  46. 184 Mount Fuji
  47. 186 Steam rising from hot springs
  48. 194 Man fishing for shore of lake
  49. 200 Three women
  50. 207 Mount Fuji -- 3/4 of a Page Plate
  51. 211 Young woman
  52. 219 Street scene
  53. 221 Street scene, almost identical to previous photograph
  54. 222 Three women at temple
  55. 223 Young woman reading
  56. 225 Shampooer massaging young woman
  57. 233 Lake
  58. 238 Old man/woman smoking -- 1/2 Page Plate
  59. 239 Mount Fuji with lake in foreground
  60. 246 Young woman, portrait in profile -- 3/4 of a Page Plate
  61. 247 Three young women dancing
  62. 251 Young woman
  63. 259 Crowd in street
  64. 260 Castle in Tokyo
  65. 261 Street scene with children
  66. 262 Temple
  67. 268 Street scene with banners
  68. 275 Three women standing by a jinrickshaw with male driver
  69. 279 Three women dancing
  70. 283 Mount Fuji with lake in foreground - 1/2 of a Page Plate
  71. 284 Four women, musical instruments
  72. 285 Boys in street scene
  73. 286 Woman bowing
  74. 292 Young woman
  75. 299 Man with ox and cart
  76. 304 Mount Fuji
  77. 310 Young man - Full Page Plate

 


Shampooer massaging young woman


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