Beware of NEW Hasui Reproductions sealed Doi Sadaichi!
There are newly printed Hasui reproductions arriving on the market that seem to be designed to deceive, a development that seems short-sighted and unethical to this dealer. This article can help you spot the fakes.
We'll use the 1932 Hasui print "Clearing After a Snowfall on Mount Fuji" 富士の雪渓(田子の浦 (Taganoura Beach) as an example, and we will point out the differences between the original prewar work and the recent reproduction.
As most collectors know, Doi-published prints that were printed before World War II and sealed “Doi Sadaichi” are scarce, and much more valuable than Doi-published works that were printed after the war. These postwar works were sealed “Doi Hangaten” following the death of the founder, Doi Sadaichi (aka Teiichi) in 1944 and were printed through about the 1950s. Although these prewar and postwar editions were printed from the original blocks, there can be as much as a three-or fourfold difference in price between the prewar- and the postwar-printed works.
What has arrived on the market is a third type of print, one that is very recently published (as in 2023), yet bears the seals of the PREWAR works.
Here is a comparison of the ORIGINAL Doi Sadaichi seal (left) and REPRODUCTION (right)
At LEFT is the authentic prewar Doi Sadaichi seal in which the left column reads “Doi Sadaichi” and the right column reads “hanken shoyu” (“copyright owned by”). At right the characters for the top portion are the same, but they are done in a way that is much stiffer and less flowing. This is a good "red flag" to help spot all of the recent prints: the characters in the seals look almost like a child carved the one at right when compared to the elegance of the seal at left. At bottom right the reproduction even bears the seals of the carver and printer that are found on earlier examples: "Ikeda" and "Yokoi".
Brand-new Doi-sealed works by Hasui (and Koitsu) have hit the market in recent years. These recently published Doi designs are printed from newly carved blocks, but instead of bearing a new seal that would be a tipoff, the tricky publisher has sealed them “Doi Sadaichi”, a clone of the prewar seal, trying to trick buyers into thinking that these are valuable prewar-printed works. It is interesting to note that this particular trick is not being played with Watanabe-printed works (although some other bad tricks are being played by bad actors with Watanabe-sealed works-- that is a matter for another day.) This essay only concerns the thirteen works that Doi published for Hasui.
At a recent dealer’s auction in Tokyo a prominent Japanese dealer was selling stacks of Hasui prints that were obviously reprinted very recently. This dealer has noticed one of these prints for sale by a Japanese gallery for about $700, with no explanatory notes about the work being very recently printed from recarved blocks. These works seem to have been produced in the last few years to fill the scarcity void in the Hasui market for early works. These also seem to be intended to deceive, or at least confuse, unlike the Watanabe-printed recent works that have a very clear red “Heisei” seal that is very different from the seal used during Hasui’s lifetime.
Now, to brass tacks: Here are closeup images of the peak of Mount Fuji from the Taganoura Beach print.
What to look for: For this design, note the differences here in the peak of Mt. Fuji. TOP is the ORIGINAL. BOTTOM is the REPRODUCTION.
In the reproduction, there is a “v”-shape on the rightmost fissure that reaches the top of the peak, while in the original, these crevices are much more subtle, and the dark line is not contiguous in the crevice shape as it flows down the mountain to the right. In the reproduction there is also a white space that is in the center of the peak which we do not see in the original.
For comparison, here is the Doi seal that was used just after the war, which reads Doi Hangaten: these often bear the printer’s and carver’s seals of the postwar period. These are found on original works published in the postwar period.
Here are images of the ORIGINAL Taganoura Hasui and the FAKE (2nd).
When the two prints are seen in person, the differences are as obvious as the nose on one's face. The original has more skilled carving, more nuanced printing and deeper, richer colors. The original has much greater depth overall, which is a hallmark of a good Hasui print.
PLEASE be careful out there, and ask questions of the dealer before purchasing a work, and be extra careful when buying at auction. If it seems too good (cheap) to be true, it probably is!