Rare Books


Current Exhibition

Japanese Wonders. Beautiful items from Rare Books

Ground floor Baillieu Library April 1 to June 5

Curated by Susan Millard, Librarian, Cultural Collections

Japan has long been known for its sense of the aesthetic, from beauty and subtlety to strong bright graphics. The way things look is part of Japanese everyday life.

This exhibition showcases paper, textiles, fan design, matchbox design, woodblock print creation, kimono design, manga and a few other curious items. Rare Books contains a strong collection of East Asian material

Kimono fabric white, gold and orange

Japanese fabric samples
Tokyo, c. 1900’s

List of tems on display

Original handpainted Japanese fan designs
Japan, c.1900-1950
These beautiful individual life size original designs for Japanese folding fans use metallic ink and gouache in a wide variety of colours. This is a rare collection of Japanese fan (sensu) design patterns which appear to have been created in the first half of the 20th century. Most of the sheets are stamped To-ku-da-sei, which appears to be the studio. Designs include a variety of fans for everyday use by both males and females.
Japanese Matchbox Album and matchboxes
Japan, c.1920s-1940s
The majority of the labels advertise restaurants and cafes. Other advertisements include inns and hotels, bars, petrol stations, pool halls, beer and sake, fruit shops, confectionary, ice cream, barbers, bakeries, photo studios and so on. They represent the amazing design happening in Japan at the time.
Matches fast became one of Japan's major export products and attractive copper-plate printed labels with multi-colours first appeared in 1879. In 1889 the value of match exports exceeded a million yen and the countries of export included Australia.

Miyake, Seijiro, artist 
Japanese Kimono designs
Japan, 1912
An album of original textile designs titled in Japanese. Designs in ink and gouache mounted on pages from an old accounts book. On the back cover is the name of the Kyoto kimono draper. The designs show the influence art in the west was having on Japan, these have an Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts feeling, that were themselves often inspired by Japan.

Washi: The Soul of Japan
Kyoto, Washi: The Soul of Japan committee 2013
This 12 volume set of 800 real samples of washi paper, handmade Japanese paper, displays the wide range of papers created, from very delicate to the highly colourful to the robust. Washi paper encapsulates the idea of the Japanese aesthetic of simplicity and beauty that is central to Japanese life. With increasing modernisation, the Washi: The Soul of Japan committee have endeavoured to capture these papers before they disappear and the current state of paper making in Japan.

Nikko Temple pop-up card
Japan, c.1955

Nikko has been a center of Shinto and Buddhist mountain worship for many centuries. In the 1600’s Toshogu,  Japan's most ornately decorated shrine and the mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Tokugawa shogunate, was built. There is a huge temple complex and National park in Nikko that draws many tourists and worshippers.

Japanese fabric samples
Tokyo, c. 1900’s
The fabric samples belong to a type of textile called meibutsu-gire (famed fabric) an ornate silk fabric woven with gold threads. The sample book comes from Komatsuya, a Tokyo based firm, established during the Taisho period (1912-1926) It is possible that Komatsuya were patronised by the Japanese royal family.

Nihon Bijutsu Gajo
(Picture album of Japanese Arts) 
Japan, c.1890’s
Japanese accordion style book, 9 double page colour woodblock print illustrations.

Colour woodblock map of Japan showing the Tokaido,  Kisokaido/ Naskasendo road, water routes, parts of Korea and an underdeveloped Hokkaido
Japan, c. 19th century
The Tōkaidō (East Sea Road) was the most important of the Five Routes of the Edo period, connecting Edo (modern-day Tokyo) to Kyoto

Tokuriki, Tomikichirō, 1902-2000, artist 
Shin Kyōto meisho  (New famed spots of Kyoto)
Kyōto, c.1950 -1960
Woodblock prints by Tokuriki Tomikichiro (1902-2000) and Kamei Tobei (1901-1977). Tokuriki and Kamei, both from Kyoto, were printmakers, who took part in the new movement of print-making in Kyoto. With other print makers in Kyoto, they founded the Kyoto Sosaku Hanga Kyokai (Kyoto Creative Print Society) in 1929. They modernised the tradition of ukiyo-e prints and believed in trying more modern styles and the artist participating more fully in the printmaking process.

Katei, Hakura (1779-1887)
Katei Inpu (Katei's seal album - Album of Japanese Artist's Seals)
Japan c1800’s
A small book of Japanese artists’ seals by Meiji period artist and seal engraver Hakura Katei. Seals are important in Japan as a signature for personal, business and ceremonial purposes.

Ōtomo, Katsuhiro, 1954- 
Akira : the beginning
London : Mandarin, 1994.
Manga is huge in Japan and around the world. The design of anime is synonymous with modern japan

Tsukamoto, Shuichi

Edo Style Trademarks
Masajiro Ooki, Kawata Printing Company, 1931
Kimonos often denote allegiance to a clan or company in Japan. This book shows designs for markings on kimonos.

Railway map of Tokyo & vicinity
Tokyo, Japan : Charles E. Tuttle Co., 1958.
Railway map of Tokyo and vicinity, includes Atami-Ito, Yokohama, Abiko, Hachioji, Otsuki, Yokosuka, Chiba, Omiya, Tachikawa, Chichibu     

Barnett, P. Neville 1881-1953. 
Japanese art : a phase in colour-prints 
Sydney : Privately printed [by the Beacon Press], 1953
Neville was interested in bookplates primarily, but also in Japanese woodblock prints.




Past Exhibitions

Online Exhibitions

Tea: The Global Infusion

Romance or Pulp Fiction? It's Your Choice

The Facsimile and the Manuscript

Art Bound: A Selection of Artists' Books

Sensational Tales: Australian Popular Publishing 1850s-1990s

To all the Little Masters and to all the Little Misses: The Morgan Collection of Children's Books

Aubrey Beardsley - A Tribute

FabricAsian - Celebrating an aspect of material culture for which Asian societies have long been renowned

Libri: six centuries of Italian books from the Baillieu Library’s Rare Books


top of page