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Determining the Edition of a 100 Series Print

The information provided on this website is intended to be used both by people who have only a few prints as well as those possessing or assembling a large collection. To that end this article appears in two parts. The first part is designed to permit a quick determination of the edition, and the second goes into greater detail about the same processes. The two parts are meant to complement each other. Although it is possible to use part I by referring only to the illustrations in part II, using all of the criteria is a good idea whenever practical. The characteristics of edition I are well documented for all of the 100 Series designs. The quick keys and observations represent current (but not necessarily complete) knowledge of the later edition characteristics. It is probable that additional information, especially about later small print runs, will continue to be discovered; and those might require modifying the descriptions presented here.


Rakusan planned the 100 Series as a limited edition of two hundred copies of each of one hundred designs as woodblock prints to be sold only to subscribers who pre-paid for the entire series of fifty monthly installments in advance. However, demand for copies of individual designs soon led him to reprint popular designs as their stocks ran out. Eventually, 100 Series designs would have up to four major editions which were printed and published within separate time periods:

Edition I (1929-1933)
Edition II (1935-1941)
Edition III (1948-1955)
Posthumous Unsōdō Edition IV (2021-?)

Rakusan never had to recarve any of his wooden printing blocks since his operation and output remained small and the blocks never wore out. All copies of each design were printed using the same image blocks, although the attribution markings varied by edition.

Determining the Edition Using the Watermark: Each Rakusan 100 Series print was originally distributed loose (unbound and unbacked), and was printed with wide margins. The lower margin is especially important since it contains a watermark which alone is nearly always sufficient to determine edition. (Check the watermark illustrations in Part II.) [Note that the title-caption printed in gray ink which also appears in the lower margin never varies and is not useful for this purpose.]

Because the handmade, watermarked washi paper was expensive, Rakusan routinely saved (and ultimately used) paper leftover when an edition closed. As a result, there are a some reprinted designs whose watermarked paper is from an earlier edition.

If the paper has an edition I watermark, the print is almost always edition I.*
If the paper has an edition II watermark, it is usually edition II.**
If the paper has an edition III watermark, it is almost always edition III.***

*The only known exceptions are partial print runs of 61 and 91 which used leftover edition I watermark paper in edition II. (See the discussions on the subpages for designs 61 and 91).

**There are some designs whose edition III reprintings used leftover edition II watermark paper. These include at least 60, 63, and 67, and potentially several others. One possible marker for the delayed reprinting is a secondary Foster era signature (see below). (See in particular the discussions on the subpages for designs 60, 63, and 67).

***As of 2022 the only exceptions are the posthumous Unsōdō print runs of 2 and 68 which used leftover edition III watermark paper in edition IV. (See the discussion on the subpages for designs 2 and 68.)

Determining the Edition Using the Signature and Seal: Unfortunately, Western-style framing often covers the lower margin with a mat (or worse, cuts it off!). It is also notoriously difficult to read the watermark from a normal photograph. However, for most designs it is still possible to determine the edition from the signature and seal combinations. Note that a few of these combinations occur in more than one edition, and for those the edition will remain ambiguous without reference to the watermark. (Check the signature illustrations and seal illustrations in Part II.)

If a copy has a signature with three characters, it is almost always from edition I. However, caution is necessary since there are a few examples of signatures with three characters which were reused in edition II or edition III, and two which were repeated in edition IV.
If a copy has a signature with five characters, it is not edition I or edition IV, and it is either edition II or edition III.
If a copy has the five characters signature
楽山篁子生, Raku-zan Kou-shi-sei, it is either edition II or edition III.
If a copy has the five characters signature
三拙庵楽山, San Setsu An Raku-zan, it is edition III.
With the exception of design 95 which never has a signature, lack of a signature indicates a copy which was never intended to be circulated individually. For example only the last one or two stages of a process set show the signature.

If a copy has either seal G or seal H, it is edition I.
If a copy has seal A, it is predominately edition I, but there are several examples in edition II and at least one in edition III (and edition IV, for design 68 only).
If a copy has seal F, it is either edition I or edition II (and edition IV, for design 2 only).
If a copy has seal B, it is not edition I or edition IV, and it is either edition II or edition III.

Although the signature and seal criteria have been listed separately, it is always a good idea to check the entire combination to help eliminate ambiguity. For example, although both are individually ambiguous a five characters signature with seal A (or seal F) can only be edition II, etc.


100 SERIES EDITIONS: The three editions are separated temporally as well as by their attribution markings.

Edition I (1929-1933): This first edition includes not only the first print run of each of the designs but also any reprintings done before the last of the one hundred designs had been published. Up until the middle of 1933 Rakusan reprinted certain popular designs up to two or three times in full two hundred copy print runs. He usually took great pains to insure that copies from these early reprintings were as similar as possible to those produced in the first print run. As a result, nearly all edition I copies of the same designs look alike.

Edition I is the only edition in which all one hundred designs are represented, and for nearly all designs edition I copies are the most numerous. There are also many designs for which the initial two hundred copy printing was the only one made. Rakusan decided not to reprint most of those designs because of problems encountered during their first print runs.

Several very beautiful and complex designs were so difficult to print that any reprinting would be uneconomical. Rakusan charged the same price for copies of each design in the series, and there was no way to absorb the extra costs of the loss of time and the wastage of materials. As a result, Rakusan never attempted to reprint any of those particular designs either in edition I or in the later editions. For many years Rakusan held back the remaining copies of these designs in order to be able to sell complete series sets in the future.

Rakusan's ambitious publication schedule meant that there was seldom time to correct errors discovered close to the time of planned release. The cherrywood blocks were very expensive and time consuming to carve. Upon discovering serious carving errors, Rakusan often had no other options than to print from those blocks anyway. Because Rakusan liked to display and sell copies of his finest work, he also tended to hold back from offering for sale copies of most designs with numerous carving (and hence printing) errors. These too were likely never reprinted. However, there are a very few designs, including 2, 6, 43, and 50, where printing flaws were sometimes corrected and somethimes not. 2 and 6 were reprinted in several editions despite having carving errors, and 22 continued to be reprinted inverted.

Rakusan only reprinted when previously printed stocks of a design were exhausted or nearly so. Some designs were apparently less popular with the public, and a demand for additional copies for sale never materialized.

Edition I copies of each design are overtly marked by use of particular signature, seal, and watermark combinations which are unique to that design during edition I. Note that the illustrations on the 100 Series gallery pages on this website are exclusively of copies with edition I markings, and those are also the main illustrations on each of the individual design subpages. Any differences from those markings illustrated indicate a different, later edition.

Edition II (1935-1941): During 1933-1935 Rakusan's studio operations were concentrated on producing his next publications, the Fan Series and the 36 Series. However, he was also carefully planning the resumption of reprinting 100 Series designs but with modified attribution markings to distinguish this edition II from the original edition I printings. When reprinting began in 1935, Rakusan made few changes to his procedures. The early 100 Series edition II reprintings are closely similar to their edition I versions, and were apparently produced in the same two hundred copy print runs.

When World War II began in Asia in 1937, Rakusan believed that the conflict would soon be over. Accordingly he continued his reprinting efforts unabated. As a result, when the tourist trade collapsed, he was financially overextended. In addition, the sequestration of war materials soon made it impossible for Rakusan to obtain many of his familiar supplies. As those ran out, he was forced to make substitutions and to reduce the number of copies in each print run. Several of the last edition II reprintings from the period 1938-1941 have fewer (and sometimes different) colors, lack glitter or metallic inks, and some were printed using significantly simpler techniques. Different weights of paper from different suppliers were occasionally used. The changes eventually forced Rakusan to shut down his studio in 1941 and close out edition II.

As noted, not all designs were reprinted in edition II, and it is likely some additional examples of late edition II reprintings remain to be discovered since their print runs were usually very small.

Later Edition Indeterminate: Occasionally, a design will have so few documented later edition copies that distinguishing between prewar late edition II (1938-1941) and postwar early edition III (1948-1951) is not yet possible. Often the discovery of a single additional example is sufficient to resolve the ambiguity.

A major issue is that watermark information is lacking for many currently documented later edition copies. Discovery of additional copies with edition III watermarks will identify those copies as edition III. Unfortunately, for many designs an edition II watermark remains ambiguous. When Rakusan ceased edition II reprinting in 1941, he had a supply of edition II watermark paper leftover. Not wanting to waste these relatively expensive supplies, Rakusan decided to continue to use this edition II paper when he first resumed reprinting 100 Series designs after the war.

The presence of secondary addenda (see below) on an additional copy can also be helpful in identifying the correct later edition. Among these indeterminate designs a new copy with a city-name stamp can only indicate edition II since city-name stamps ceased to be used before Rakusan began his first edition III reprintings. Similarly, an additional copy with a secondary Foster era cursive Rakusan romaji signature strongly suggests edition III.

Edition III (1948-1955): After World War II whenever his generally poor health permitted, with encouragement from Walter Foster (see below) and others Rakusan again began issuing 100 Series reprints. Rakusan never again worked with any helpers, and he was forced to reduce the amount and complexity of his printing operations to what he could handle alone. Many of his pre-war supplies and suppliers were no longer available, and Rakusan had to make many changes to the appearance and production of the prints.

Rakusan reprinted his first few edition III designs using leftover edition II watermark paper. With financial support from postwar sales, and optimistic about future sales through Foster, Rakusan subsequently ordered new supplies of paper with a new edition III watermark. From then on edition III reprintings were all on edition III watermark paper.

Rakusan was well aware that the quality of this postwar printing would not be equal to what he was able to accomplish before the war, and he continued to be dissatisfied with his postwar production. His edition III production was with few exceptions never made in commercial quantities. It seems likely that many designs were reprinted in such small numbers that those reprintings were motivated more by Foster wanting to infill his personal collection rather than for sales inventory. Then too, Foster was eager to help Rakusan make money, and that desire probably also contributed to his subsidizing the edition III reprinting efforts. The secondary Foster era cursive Rakusan romaji signature (see below) is almost entirely restricted to edition III copies.

Edition III reprinting continued up to 1955 when Rakusan closed his studio permanently and ceased all printing activity. Not all designs were reprinted in edition III, and because all edition III print runs were small, examples of additional designs with currently undocumented edition III copies remain to be discovered.

Edition IV (2021- ?): In 2015 the famous Kyoto publishing house Unsōdō Co., Ltd. (芸艸堂), bought all of the original Rakusan printing blocks, several example prints, and the leftover edition III watermark paper. In 2021 Unsōdō began issuing for sale reprinted copies of designs 2 and 68 on this paper. These new copies were printed for Unsōdō using the original Rakusan blocks by the well-known contemporary Kyoto woodblock printer, 中山誠人, Nakayama Masato. This new posthumous edition IV is readily identifiable by the Unsōdō attribution markings printed in the lower portion of the left margin. The inscription reads: 芸艸堂版 摺 中山, unsoudou-ban suri nakayama, 'Unsōdō edition, printing: Nakayama'.

100 SERIES WATERMARKS: In the lower margin below the image in each print there is a watermark (technically a countermark) which is typically diagnostic of the edition of the print. The watermark appears as a translucent set of kanji characters which is often overprinted in part by the gray ink of the title-caption. The watermark characters are large, 3 centimeters square, and are about the same distance apart. They can best be seen by holding an unmounted sheet up to a strong light. If the print has been framed or backed, the characters may still be seen in oblique light by observing the changes to the paper surface. There are three different watermark texts (one for each of the three original editions). Four similar but slightly different fonts are used (edition III uses two fonts; the others one each).

All of the watermarks are designed to be read from right to left, and nearly all watermarks are oriented properly on the paper relative to the later woodblock printing of the title-caption text and image. However, the paper looks and feels the same on both faces, and in a few rare examples the later woodblock printing was accidentally done on the wrong side of the paper. In those instances the watermark is mirror-image backwards when seen from the printed face of the paper.

Edition I Watermark: The edition I watermark, 楽山花鳥畫譜, Raku-zan Ka-chou Ga-fu, is Rakusan's original title for the entire series, here translated as Rakusan Flower and Bird Print Series. This title also appears on other material associated with the set. The six characters in this watermark are read from right to left. All edition I prints have the edition I watermark.

However, very late in edition II Rakusan printed some copies of edition II reprints on his leftover stock of paper with edition I watermarks. Currently, the only known examples are from partial print runs of 61 and 91. (See the full discussions on the subpages for designs 61 and 91.) Regardless of the paper used, these edition II copies of 61 and 91 have a later edition signature and seal combination and therefore cannot be mistaken for edition I copies.

Edition I Watermark

Accidentally Reversed Edition I Watermark (rare)

Edition II Watermark: The edition II watermark 楽山篁子生, Raku-zan Kou-shi-sei, combines the two most common print name aliases. The five characters are read from right to left. All currently documented examples of the edition II watermark are properly oriented, but a few accidentally reversed copies may exist.

The decision to switch to the use of paper with a different watermark for edition II was made before edition II reprinting began. Therefore, the earliest documented edition II reprintings were all on edition II watermark paper. However, early in edition III Rakusan printed some copies of edition III reprints on his leftover stock of paper with edition II watermarks. Currently, the only definite examples are from partial print runs of 60, 63, and 67. (See the full discussions on the subpages for design 60, 63, and 67.)

As noted above, some late edition II prints were printed on leftover stock of paper with edition I watermarks. Those late edition II prints always have edition II signature and seal markings.

Edition II Watermark

Edition III Watermark: The edition III watermark 白蛙老楽山, Haku-a-ro Raku-zan, includes the late print name alias roughly meaning 'White Frog Old-Man'. The five characters are read from right to left.

At the time the Rakusan studio closed in 1955, there was a supply of unused paper with edition III watermarks. In 2015 Unsōdō purchased this leftover stock of edition III paper. In 2021 they began using it to reprint their posthumous edition IV of designs 2 and 68 with different attribution markings (q.v.).

The same edition III watermark text occurs in two different font variations, probably indicating at least two different paper sources. All known designs with edition III and edition IV reprints have copies with the regular edition III watermark in the font shown immediately below.

Edition III Watermark

Exceptionally, design 47 (see also below) also has a second, differently marked, (and perhaps later) edition III version which instead has the edition III watermark (variant font) either properly oriented or reversed.

Edition III Watermark (variant font)

Accidentally Reversed Edition III Watermark (variant font) (rare)

As noted above, some early edition III prints were printed on leftover stock of paper with edition II watermarks.

100 SERIES SIGNATURE AND SEAL COMBINATIONS: There are five different signature and seal combinations used during edition I. However, each design always has the same signature and seal combination on all copies of that particular design. That is mostly also true within the later editions. However, a few designs have variants with two different signature and seal combinations within the same later edition. Since all of the illustrations in the main image gallery are of edition I copies, any difference in signature or seal from those shown must indicate a later edition.

100 Series Signatures: Rakusan's 100 Series primary signatures are almost always woodblock-printed. However, late in edition III Rakusan added his 三拙庵楽山, San Setsu An Raku-zan, signature in his own handwriting on a few different designs. The kanji characters that form the signatures on ninety-seven of the designs are always in black ink just above or to the left of the red seal within the image area of the print. Exceptionally, the signatures on designs 53 and 96 are always in gold ink instead of black; and on print design 95 (which always has a gold seal instead of a red one) there is never an accompanying signature. (Note that in the lower margin the horizontal row of characters printed in gray ink are the title-caption for the print - not a signature.)




San Setsu An
Rakuzan (var.)

San Setsu An
Rakuzan (var.)

100 Series Signatures
signature number of characters edition I edition II edition III edition IV
楽山居, Raku-zan Kyo 3 x x (rare) x (one) x (two)
楽山作, Raku-zan Saku 3 x - - -
楽山篁子生, Raku-zan Kou-shi-sei 5 - x x -
三拙庵楽山, San Setsu An Raku-zan 5 - - x (few) -

The signature 楽山居, Raku-zan Kyo, is usually an indicator of an edition I print. It was the original edition I signature on seventy-seven of the one hundred designs (1-14, 16-78) where it occurs with one of seal F, G, or A. It was also reused with seal A in edition II in conjunction with an edition II watermark; and with seals F and A in edition IV in conjunction with an edition III watermark.

The signature 楽山作, Raku-zan Saku, occurs only on edition I prints. It was the original signature on twenty-two of the one hundred designs (15, 79-94, 96-100) where it only occurs with seal A.

[Note that the one remaining edition I design (95) never has a signature.]

The signature 楽山篁子生, Raku-zan Kou-shi-sei, is by far the most commonly encountered signature used on reprints in both edition II and edition III. It usually occurs with seal B, but in edition II there are several designs where it instead occurs with seal F or seal A. Although this signature was never used during edition I in the 100 Series, it is by far the most used signature in edition I of the subsequent 36 Series.

The signature 三拙庵楽山, San Setsu An Raku-zan, is uncommonly found only on edition III copies and only occurs with seal B. Unlike the other 100 Series signatures which are woodblock-printed, this signature is only known in handwritten form.

100 Series Seals: The seals used by Rakusan have been assigned letter designations to make it easier to refer to them. Some of seals are restricted to a single edition and others occur in more than one. [Note that the seals shown here are not all to the same scale. See also the separate article on Rakusan Seals for additional seal illustrations.]

Seal F

Seal G

Seal A

Seal H

Seal B

Seal C

100 Series Seals
seal letter edition I edition II edition III edition IV
F x x (uncommon) - x (one)
G x - - -
A x x (uncommon) x (one) x (one)
H x - - -
B - x x -
C x (secondary only) x (secondary only) - -

In edition I seal F appears on the first ten designs (1-10). In edition II seal F is also used on some of these same designs but with a different signature, as well as on a few other designs which had different seals in edition I. It is also found on one design reprinted in edition IV.

There is incomplete information that Rakusan revived seal F as a secondary addendum placed within the image area on a single group of 100 Series prints between the late 1930s and the immediate postwar period. On these copies a secondary seal F has been added near a corner margin to otherwise normal edition I and edition II prints which already had primary signature and seal markings. To date only six copies from this group which were in a museum collection by 1951 have so far been documented but without photographic evidence.

Eight of the next nine designs in edition I have seal G (11-14, 16-19). During the same time period seal G was also used on each of the thirty-six 100 Series Alternate designs. Seal G was never used in reprinting later editions.

All but one of the remaining designs in edition I have seal A (15, 20-94, 96-100) for an edition total of eighty-one seal A designs. Seal A also occasionally occurs in edition II where unusually it has either of two different signatures. It is also found on one design reprinted in edition III and another in edition IV.

Seal H is the only 100 Series seal printed in gold ink or occurring without an accompanying signature. It occurs only on edition I of 95, a design which was apparently never reprinted. The other ninety-nine designs have red seals in all editions.

Seal B was never used during edition I. However, it is the predominate seal used in later edition reprintings. In fact to date all documented individual edition III prints have seal B. Seal B is also the most commonly encountered seal used in the subsequent 36 Series.

The preceding seals are all primary seals which were woodblock-printed at the same time as the production of the design image. Unlike those, seal C is used in the 100 Series only as a hand-applied secondary addendum without a directly associated signature. It is included in this list because (like the primary seal) it is also included within the image area. (Secondary seals applied as part of a personal dedication appear only in the print margins and are discussed elsewhere.)

Rakusan had used seal C as a primary seal in 1934-1935 on newly published prints in his Fan Series and 36 Series. Rakusan revived seal C as a secondary addendum placed within the image area on a single set of 100 Series prints between the late 1930s and the immediate postwar period. Each design in this hybrid edition I and edition II set has a secondary seal C added near a corner margin. The prints are otherwise typical of their editions and already had primary signature and seal markings. This modified set arrived in the northeastern United States where it was subsequently broken up. To date twenty different designs have been documented from six or seven separated portions of the original set. Two portions, including eight designs total, were in a single public museum collection by the end of 1951.

COLOR AND TECHNIQUE VARIATIONS: There are generally no (or only very minor) variations in the printed image between edition I and early edition II copies of the same 100 Series design. The ink colors are usually the same and the few differences are ones of technique. As war approached Rakusan found it difficult to obtain his accustomed supplies. As a result some later edition II prints may lack metallic inks, have less (or no) metallic glitter scattering, and/or substitute different ink colors and types of papers. After World War II many of the edition III images were routinely produced using ink colors and techniques strikingly different from those used earlier. These variations are especially obvious in the choices of backgrounds.

In the main image gallery all of the 100 Series illustrations are from edition I. However, making conclusions about observed differences in color using photographs is chancy since many colors look very different depending on the lighting. Many apparently different colors are actually the same when photographed under the same conditions. Unfortunately, it has not yet been possible to include images of all known color and techniques variations on each of the subpages, and those will be added as opportunity arises.

Here is one of several examples of a design where the colors are sufficiently different to be edition-diagnostic:

47 (edition I) 47 (edition III-a) 47 (edition III-b)

In adapting the complex prototype paintings onto the wooden printing blocks, occasionally elaborate designs were misinterpreted by the carver. As a result some areas of those designs ended up being printed in the wrong color, or, more commonly, were left unprinted where the plain paper or an underprinted layer shows instead. Especially toward the end of the series, designs with printing errors were left uncorrected. However, for some designs corrections were attempted on some but not all copies, most often by in-painting by hand. Some of these corrections are specific to individual print runs and may also help define editions. Designs for which printing errors have been corrected on some copies but not on others include: 2, 6, 43, 50, and 62; and there may be additional designs for which similar examples remain to be discovered.

PAPERS: The paper used in edition I, in addition to having the same watermark, is all of a uniform weight, color, and finish. During the later portion of the edition II period Rakusan had troubles getting his preferred paper stock, and many different papers were used. Some of these papers were noticeably heavier and stiffer than the type used for edition I. The two papers used in edition III are similar to each other and to the edition I paper. Because the handmade, watermarked washi paper was expensive even then, Rakusan routinely saved (and ultimately used) paper leftover when an edition closed. As a result, there are a small number of reprinted designs whose watermarked paper is from an earlier edition. Leftover edition III paper was also used to print posthumous edition IV.

LATER SECONDARY ADDENDA: Primary writings on Rakusan woodblock prints are those produced as part of the printing process used to make the image. These include the watermark, as well as the woodblock-printed title-caption, seal, and signature (if any). Secondary addenda are any writings which have been applied later, and in some cases much later. In addition to the extra seal C (and possibly also seal F) noted above, there are also dedications, dates, and translations. Two additional and much more common types of secondary addenda described here were added for different, quite independent, reasons. Copies known to have been distributed before World War II never have them; so these represent practices which only first appear later on. Note that the presence of secondary addenda does not necessarily indicate anything about when the original copies were actually printed or sold - only approximately when and how they were intended to be distributed.

City-Name Stamps: Around the time of World War II, Rakusan was required to add a maker's stamp to prints he was selling, but the exact details of when and why are uncertain. The stamp consists of a vertical column of tiny machine-made characters (rather like a miniscule typewriter font) which read from top to bottom: 京都 土屋楽山, Kyouto - Tsuchiya Rakuzan (Kyoto,the city where Rakusan lived, and the Japanese form of his name). (There is also an extremely rare variant with seven characters, but the extra one is unclear.) This stamp is always in red ink and is located in one of the corners of the design within the image area.

100 Series edition I and edition II copies known to have been distributed before 1941 never have this stamp. Postwar Rakusan souvenir prints (unrelated to this series) and at least some (if not all) of the 100 Series copies distributed in 1947 have city-name stamps; but at least by March 1948 city-name stamps are no longer used. Although 1947-1948 apparently marks the end of the period that city-name stamps were required, it is not currently known when they were first mandated. City-name stamps were applied to some edition I and some edition II copies from back stock in anticipation of their sale during this interval. Because Rakusan did not reprint until previous supplies were exhausted, the presence of city-name stamps on edition I copies available for postwar sale suggest that those particular designs may not have been reprinted in edition II. Not all prints marked with city-name stamps were distributed during this time. Some were sold later, and others remained unsold.

Rakusan did not begin producing edition III versions of 100 Series designs until sometime after city-name stamps were no longer required. Therefore, any copy which has a city-name stamp cannot be from edition III. Because some signature and seal markings are shared by both edition II and edition III, the presence of a city-name stamp can be used identify that copy as edition II by ruling out an edition III printing.

Cursive Romaji Signatures: Rakusan regularly added a secondary handwritten romaji signature to prints intended to be sold through Walter Foster. (See the Foster article.) The art name Rakusan was written in cursive Western script, most typically using a nearly dry brush and dilute black sumi ink and placed just inside the image area along the lower margin.

Rakusan used this particular method of signing prints only during the period when Foster was acting as his sales agent for woodblock prints in the USA, perhaps as early as 1948 but primarily in the 1950s and perhaps into the early 1960s. During the Foster era this Rakusan signature was pre-applied to selected small batches of prints intended to be sent on to Foster. Because Rakusan continued to sell his prints directly to studio visitors, copies from the same print run were sold either with or without this extra signature depending on what was readily at hand at the time.

Rakusan remained reluctant to deface his prewar edition I and edition II copies with a secondary signature within the image area. Although these signatures have been found on a few prewar copies of particular designs for which adequate supplies were still available for bulk sales through Foster, the great majority of examples of the Foster Rakusan signatures occur on copies from edition III. Since Foster was a strong financial supporter for the edition III reprinting, it is not surprising that almost all edition III copies have these Foster Rakusan signatures. Some copies with cursive romaji signatures were left over when the Foster arrangement was ended. These continued to be distributed from the Rakusan studio (often years later), and others remained uncirculated.

Although the later signatures for Foster (including all of those for later edition III printings) have a loose, assembly line sort of informality, the earliest of these signatures are much more carefully executed. The earlier lettering is darker, smaller, and is in a more calligraphic style which closely resembles signatures seen before the war on winter cards, and on dedications and translations in pencil or pen after the war up to 1947-1948. Unlike the later Foster version which is invariably within the image area, the early signature versions were instead placed below the image within the bottom margin. In addition to the Rakusan signature the Rakusan Tsuchiya version also occurs during this early period.

Rakusan was reportedly always uncomfortable with defacing the image area of his major series prints. After the war and continuing into the 1960s Rakusan very occasionally accommodated a personal visitor with a handwritten secondary signature, dedication, or other text on a 100 Series print. However, in these cases any writing was invariably placed within the margins and did not overlap the image. Currently, the only examples of such additions are on edition I and edition II copies printed before World War II.

ASSOCIATED MATERIALS: FOLIO ENVELOPES & COLOPHONS: For local subscribers and clients Rakusan had his major series prints hand delivered packaged loose in large red Manila-paper folding folio envelopes. The folios were large enough that the prints would be able to be delivered without being creased or folded. Unfortunately, these envelopes were usually discarded as packaging, and few have survived.

On the outside of the envelope was a woodblock-printed series title label based on Rakusan's own calligraphy. Many subscribers removed and retained these labels for later reuse as titles on boxes or albums used to store their Rakusan prints:

Series Title from Folio Envelope: 楽山花鳥畵譜 (楽山花鳥画譜), Rakuzan Kachou Gafu (reading right-to-left)

Pasted onto the inside of the folio envelope (or under the flap) were specially machine-printed colophon labels which included a table of contents for the current installment, a series description, printing and publication information with dates, and a preview list of the contents of the next installment. Originally on up to three separate labels, from the third installment onwards this colophon information was combined onto a single label. The very few colophon labels which have survived are extremely important for establishing the timelines and procedures and for for determining the history of the first print runs of the various designs. However, because nearly all are no longer in direct association with their original prints, they are rarely usable for dating individual copies.

ASSOCIATED MATERIALS: 100 SERIES ALTERNATES: Beginning with installment five in September 1929 and continuing through installment twenty-two in February 1931, two preview prints were added to each of the regular installments delivered to all subscribers (see 100 Series Alternates). Only enough prints were produced to distribute to current subscribers, and the designs were never reprinted. Direct association of an original collection of 100 Series prints with a set of 100 Series Alternates indicates that all of those prints are from series subscribers and are first print run copies.

© 2016 (original © 2005; revisions © 2014, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022) Dr Michael J P Nichols