Japan: Shyosei & Co, Ca. 1910. A boldly graphic collection of Japanese wood block matchbox labels and labels for other products, bound in the original brown paper wrappers bound with silk cord and in its original full color illustrated envelope. Each label is a tiny gem of graphic design, measuring 2 1/8 x 1 3/8", and printed in various intense colors. Many of the labels are in English with the trade mark name of the manufacturer; some are in Japanese, Chinese, German and Dutch. They include several advertisements for Australian companies, including The Swan Brewery Co. Ltd of Perth, whose label shows a black swan against a red ground, with the name of the brewery on a green banner, and advertising ales and stouts; Humber Bicycle, the Australian Cycle Agency, 229 Elizabeth St., Melbourne; Sandhurst Pioneer Cooperative Co. Ltd, Grocers Wine & Spirit Merchants, Importers of China Glass & Earthenware; Brownell Bros. The Leading House for Drapery, Clothing, Carpets, Etc. Hobart; Bush's Grocery Store & Tea Ware House Corner of Williamson & Myers Sts Bendigo Noted for Bush's Blended Teas; Fine Old Loch Shiel Whiskey McKinnen & Bannister Glasgow. Sole Agent for Victoria J.W. King Daylesford. The labels were printed for a wide variety of countries- on for the Colombo (Sri Lanka) Apothcaries (sic) states their wines & cigars "Can Not be Beaten in Quality or Cheapness"; The Hawaiian Best Safety Match; other labels for companies in Germany, Singapore, Paris, Calcutta, China, Vietnam and of course Japan.
They are printed in black on colored paper, as well as two color & more, with red, orange, yellow, blue & green ink. They employ a fantastic variety of images from spiders, lions, dragons, elephants, people, bats, tigers, walrus, giraffe, horses, trains, dice, dogs, monkies, cranes, horse drawn buggy, camels, bees, fish, crabs, Native Americans, peacocks, water buffalo & geisha. There are no patriotic Japanese illustrations. Products other than safety matches include: Hirano Natural Mineral Water, Brooke's Soap, Hercules Tea, Brownell Brothers Drapery, and Frossard's Cigars. The subject matter of the labels includes Geisha, animals, children, flowers, birds, circus scenes, dragons, and allegorical figures, while there are no patriotic Japanese illustrations.
8vo, 50 pages, unpaginated, each page of the catalog with two columns and five rows of labels tipped in, for a total of 500. With a label laid down on front cover, with woman on horseback and acrobat balancing on a ball, with the text "Manufactured by Shyosei & Co. Japan". The colorful mailing envelope is illustrated in full color, with a montage of different images, including a man and woman in traditional garb; other partially visible images are the masts of a ship, and cherry blossoms. Titles in Japanese; verso with handwritten Japanese characters. Catalog in excellent condition, label a little water flecked, rubbed at edges with some minor insect holes.
The date of 1910 is arrived at by a review of the subject matter & printing methods employed. They are post Sino-Russian war due to the absence of Japanese patriotic labels, and later match labels tended to be almost entirely red.
A fascinating collection. Very good overall. Item #18116