Japanese Costume
Before the Restoration

17 "Chemigraph" Plates
Kazumasa Ogawa, 1895

Ogawa, K. (Kazumasa)
Japanese Costume Before the Restoration, Photographed by K. Ogawa, Under Direction of Ko-yu-kai (Tokyo Fine Art School), Tokyo, K. Ogawa, 1895 (Meiji 28), Folio (10 1/2 x 14 in - 26.5 x 35 cm), illustrated card covers, bound at three points, ©1893 by C. B. Woodward, St Louis, "manufactured" by National Chemigraph Co., St Louis, 1 page preface, 17 black and white halftone ("Chemigraph") plates. Each plate with a single image, a descriptive title and a paragraph of information. The plates reproduce Kazumasa Ogawa photographs of Japanese dress from the Tempei period (620-808), the Fujiwara period (880-1150) and the Ashikaga period (1350-1550). The very high quality halftone images are printed on glossy medium thickness paper. The image areas vary but generally are 6 x 8 inches. At the lower right of each image an inscription reads "Chemigraph, patented March 21, 1893."

Date of Publication. Wenckstern lists the date of publication for this book as 1894. You often see it listed with the date of 1893, the stated copyright date. I have placed the date of publication as 1895 because I have personally examined a copy of the companion book, Military Costume in Old Japan, with a tipped in K. Ogawa colophon showing printing and distribution dates in June of Meiji 28 (1895). I believe the book, or the contents, was printed in St. Louis in 1893. They were probably then shipped to Japan where the Ogawa enterprises (K. Ogawa, Ogawa Shashin Seihanjo and Ogawa Shuppanbu) assembled them, sometimes adding Japanese language colophon slips and began marketing them in mid-1895.

Covers. The front cover has a subdued pale green and white lithograph design featuring flowers and leaves. Within two framed areas are halftone images of children performing the butterfly dance. The back cover has two illustrations of carriages on the outside. Both the front and back inside covers are blank and off-white in color. The covers are a thick card stock. The right side of the front cover is attached to a flexible cloth (linen) type strip which allows the front cover to be opened without bending the actual cover. This is not the case with the back cover.

Bindings. This book was bound with decorative ribbon ties. However, it seldom found with the ties in place. Quite often the book is offered with brads in the holes, recent cloth or string ties or in a rebound state in hardcovers. Here are my observations regarding the way in which the book was originally bound.

  • Punched Holes. There are three punched holes on the left hand side of the covers and pages. The first and last are 7 1/4 inches apart with the middle hole centered between them.

  • Binding Method. Below is an picture of these books (Military Costumes and Japanese Costumes) with the original ribbon tie.

    The blue/green cotton fabric type ribbon tie measures 12 mm across. The ribbon wraps around the spine at the top and bottom and is then stretched vertically on the front between the top and bottom holes. The two ends of the ribbon are brought through the middle hole from the back and tied in a bow/knot on the front using the vertically stretched ribbon as an anchor or tying point. Because it is rather flimsy, the ribbon tie is seldom found on books. The ribbon tie is decorative in nature and not essential to actually holding the books together. Rebinding is the norm for these books and they are often found rebound into one book.

"Chemigraph" Illustrations. The illustrations in the book are reproduced by a process which was trademarked as "Chemigraph." They are high quality halftone prints. When viewed under x10 magnification you see a very distinct screen pattern in dark areas of the image. As the image turns lighter, the screen pattern is not visible and the image is created a by pattern of black and gray dots. This process creates an image with a greater range of tones than one normally associates with halftone images. I have seen these plates described as collotypes. To the unaided eye the quality and range of tones does appear very close to that of a collotype print. However, under magnification, it is clear that a halftone process has been used. A close-up of the pattern is shown below.

Ogawa in the United States in 1893. Kazumasa Ogawa attended the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. He was constantly seeking the state of the art in printing to incorporate into his business in Japan. It appears that during this visit to the United States he arranged for the C. B. Woodward company to produce this book and the companion book. I do not believe he adopted the "chemigraph" halftone process for use in Japan. I find no reference to it in his publications. Further, I have not seen similar halftone reproductions in his books. He did employ a very fine halftone process as early as 1892. This was the meisenbach process and probably superior to the "chemigraph" process in the final output.

Companion Book. At the same time as this book, Ogawa produced another book using the Woodward and National companies. That book was titled Military Costumes in Old Japan, Photographed by K. Ogawa, Under Direction of Chitora Kwasaki of Ko-yu-kai (Tokyo Fine Art School). It is often found consolidated with this book in a single binding (probably privately and not issued or originally sold that way).

K. Ogawa Not the Printer. This is one of three books where K. Ogawa was the publisher but not the printer, a very uncommon practice. The books are listed below. In 1893 Ogawa attended the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago where a Congress of Photographers was held. All three of these books apparently were a spin-off from his trip to the United States.

  • 1893, Okakura Kakudzo, The Ho-o-den (Phoenix Hall), An Illustrated Description of the Buildings Erected by the Japanese Government at the World´s Columbian Exposition, Jackson Park, Chicago, Tokyo, K. Ogawa, publisher, copyrighted by C.D. Arnold, W.B. Conkey Company, Printers and Binders, Chicago, stapled pamphlet (monograph), paper wraps, 8vo (6 x 9 in - 15.2 x 23 cm), 1893, 13 black and white halftone plates (1 plan & 12 photographs), 44 pp. While K. Ogawa was the publisher, it appears the pamphlet was printed by the Conkey Company in Chicago. For more information on this monograph, click here.

  • 1895, Japanese Costumes Before the Restoration, Photographed by K. Ogawa, Under Direction of Ko-yu-kai, Tokyo, K. Ogawa, ©1893 by C. B. Woodward, St Louis, "manufactured" by National Chemigraph Co., St Louis 17 black and white high quality halftone plates ("Chemigraph, Patented March 21, 1893") with titles. Depicts dress/costumes from three periods: "620-809 A.D., 880-1150 A.D., and 1350-1550 A.D. Original price was 2.50 yen. For more information on this book, click here.

  • 1895, Military Costumes of Old Japan, Tokyo, K. Ogawa, ©1893 by C. B. Woodward, St Louis, "manufactured" by National Chemigraph Co., St Louis, 15 black and white high quality halftone plates ("Chemigraph, Patented March 21, 1893") with titles and 2 pages of text. An advertisement prices the book at 2.50 yen. For more information on this book, click here.

For information on Kazumasa Ogawa and his books, click here.

Title Page

To see the Preface, click here.
To see the Copyright notice, click here.


All 17 Plates in This Book
Titles are those Printed with the Plate

A Court Costume

Two Sculptors of the Tempei Period

The Bugaku

A Later Form of the Bugaku

A High Vassal of the Fujiwara Period

A Nobleman of the Fujiwara Period

A Court Lady of the Fujiwara Period

A Hunting Costume of the Kamakura Period

A Female Dancer of the Kamakura Period

A Feudal Lord of the Ashikaga Period

A Priest of the Zen Sect Preaching

The No

A Youth of the Early Tokugawa Period

A Samurai of the Tokugawa Epoch

The Kamioki

The Kesobumi-uri (vendor of Love-Letters)

Two Ladies

Close-up Showing ("Chemigraph) Halftone Composition

A few, but not all, books have a colophon tipped onto the back.
cover. An identical colophon is found in the companion book,
(Military Costume in Old Japan)

Printed: Meiji 28 (1895).6.21
Distributed: Meiji 28 (1895).6.25


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