Yoshida & Kawase Hasui Prints, ca. 1925

Value (2004) | $20,000 Auction$30,000 Auction

GUEST:
We got these from my aunt, and she was in Japan in 1956. She was a civilian working for the military, and so she brought quite a few of these woodblock prints and other Japanese items back. The prices range from $1.25 to about four dollars apiece.

APPRAISER:
You've got a number of prints by two different artists. The first artist is Hiroshi Yoshida. It's a Japanese artist, born in the late 1880s, lived through the 1950s, and he was noted for producing these very atmospheric beautiful woodblock prints. Each color that you see here is produced by a separate block of wood that's been carved, used only for that specific ink.

GUEST:
Wow.

APPRAISER:
So a single print like this might have as many as a dozen or more separately carved blocks of wood, each with the same scene. Now, what makes this extraordinary is that every block of wood has to be applied in exactly the same register, otherwise the lines are off. And Yoshida was one of the great printmakers. And we know this is by Yoshida, not only because of the style, but when you open it up, you can actually see he signed it there, and here's his Japanese signature. And the other thing that was important about Yoshida is that he broke with the past and entered into the 20th century in his designs. So you very much have a modern aesthetic-- these landscape views that are very evocative of early times. Here's an alley of wonderful trees, and you have these marvelous kind of sunsets. And then he's also known for nighttime scenes. Now, the other artist who worked at the same period of time is Kawase Hasui. Very much the same style, because both of these artists were bringing woodblock prints into a modern, 20th-century esthetic. And you can see his signature right over here on this side, and it describes this moonlit scene, and it's very romantic.

GUEST:
Mm-hmm.

APPRAISER:
And again, the same sort of process. And I'm not going to lift all these prints up, but you can get a flavor of the workmanship, and the beautiful bright colors are so important. So what's happened with your aunt when she had these is she was very careful about keeping them in a closed container, so the colors are fresh and vibrant and just like they were when they were new. Now, she paid anywhere from a dollar to five dollars each, and I think you said $50 for the entire group.

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
For insurance purposes, the values would range from $2,000 to $3,000, maybe even $4,000 each.

(laughing)

GUEST:
Oh, wow.

APPRAISER:
If you were to sell them, it would be somewhat less than that. But you're looking at... we just showed a few of these. The group is easily going to be $20,000 to $30,000--

GUEST:
Really?

APPRAISER:
--for insurance purposes.

GUEST:
Oh, my little aunt.

APPRAISER:
So your aunt did a good thing.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Lark Mason Associates
New York, New York
Appraised value (2004)
$20,000 Auction$30,000 Auction
Event
St Paul, MN (June 26, 2004)
Period
20th Century
Form
Print

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