Japanese Prints by Hiroshige Found In The Archives

Mariko, from The Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido Road by Ando Hiroshige

Mariko, 21st of ‘The Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido Road’, by Andō Hiroshige

You always find surprises in the archives, particularly when sorting through boxes of unlisted material to bring some preliminary order to a collection. While working with archivist Fiona Tait, listing the contents of the papers of the Lloyd family of Birmingham, we came across a large number of rolled family pedigrees. Among these we found two small rolled pages bearing Japanese script that seemed very much out of place. Turning them over we were pleasantly surprised to find a pair of prints in a style that looked rather familiar to me. A bit of research on the celebrated Japanese artist Andō Hiroshige led me to the Hoeido edition of The Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido Road.  Our mysterious prints were in fact the 21st (Mariko) and 52nd (Ishibe) parts of this sequence.

Ishibe, 53rd of The Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido Road by Ando Hiroshige

Ishibe, 52nd of ‘The Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido Road’, by Ando Hiroshige

My ignorance of Japanese script prevents me from reading the markings on these pieces though I have worked out a theory as to how these prints came into the collection. During 1935 and 1936 John Henry Lloyd sailed aboard the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation (P&O) steamship Carthage on a tour of the coast of China and Japan. His diary for this period references a shopping trip while ashore in Japan at the end of his holiday. It may be that this note corresponds to the purchase of the prints. Whether this supposition is correct will likely be tested when the collection is catalogued following the move to the Library of Birmingham.

Kevin Roberts,
Archivist

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