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Introducing the Mokuhankan Collection!

Posted by Dave Bull on June 13, 2020 [Permalink]

Although we are still tossing and turning, trying to decide how exactly to move our activities forward in this new era, one thing has become clear - the online part of our affairs will become ever more important to us (and of course, to the fans and supporters, as that’s the only way that they will be able to ‘see’ us for quite a long time).

So with that in mind, I am very happy to announce that we have finally - after years of ‘talking’ about it - created a new section of our website devoted to ‘Show and Tell’ … displaying and explaining many of the old prints and books in our personal collection. The website is now live here.

  • this is the start; the framework is now in place. There are only a few dozen prints in there so far, but many many more will follow over the next couple of months.
  • please note that these items are not for sale; these prints will stay in the Mokuhankan collection.
  • the main thrust of the site will be the images. This is not a ‘research’ site where you will learn details of which kabuki play was performed on what date, etc. etc. It’s all about the beautiful prints!
  • none of the images are scanned; everything is photographed, at very high resolution.
  • some items have video links, some (one to start) will have audio (sit down together with me, and I’ll tell you why this print is so special! :-)
  • the entire thing is completely 'responsive', and should work on any device from small phone up to super wide-screen desktop.

Although our printers and carvers have kept busy, some of the staff members who took care of the shop have had their work hours greatly reduced recently. Two of these members have now been ‘re-hired’ and have begun to work through the collection, adding items to the database and preparing images. This kind of expense doesn’t generate any direct sales revenue for us, so how can we afford to do this? Simple! These are Patreon funds directly at work ... thank you again to everybody who is supporting us through that platform!




Added by: Stu on June 14, 2020

Wow! Such beautiful items! I'm going to enjoy viewing (and returning, again and again as new items are added over time)!

One (minor) suggestion: I can't see a way of 'browsing' through the collection -- I keep coming back to the Search the Collection page to scroll down to an item via Select from List, and when I finish with an item (or set of items), I can't just continue to the next item in the collection. (Or am I just missing the obvious way of doing this??)

Regardless, thanks for unveiling your wonderful collection for us to see and enjoy!

Added by: Stu on June 14, 2020

(You can ignore my request/question from the last item --- I ++JUST++ noticed the 'Another Search' tab (with 'Previous catalogue item' and 'Next catalogue item').


Added by: Dave on June 14, 2020

Navigation is still 'under construction'. There are going to be a lotof prints in there, so just showing tons of thumbnails would be over-whelming. Once I get it built out a bit more, the single drop-down menu in the Search box will be replaced by something more useful than a massive list of hundreds of names ...

As far as 'browsing' goes, at present there are two ways to do that:

  • when you are looking at any print within an actual 'set', there are 'next/previous' buttons visible in the title bar above the image
  • there are also 'next/previous' links in the search box, but I'm thinking of changing these to link only to 'main' items (sets, but not the items inside sets).

Anyway, it's all in flux still, and I am very much listening to all the feedback. Thanks for browsing!

Added by: Luis on July 5, 2020

The Mokuhankan Collection has me thinking. I wonder if your business model could support the idea of deluxe prints? Prints unfettered by financial constraints? I’ve heard you make mention numerous times of cost saving measures when it comes to designing prints. Limiting blocks, limiting impressions etc. It makes perfect sense since the majority of people aren’t willing spend a lot of money on prints.

However, there are always those collectors who have the financial means to support such an endeavor. I often wonder what exquisite works Mokuhankan could create if all of its chains and restraints were to be released! These deluxe prints wouldn’t be for everyone and their small number run and high cost would reflect that. Although I would say it probably wouldn’t be best to invest such resources on a tiny print.

There’s never going to be a good time to devote energy and resources into a project like that and challenges and reasons against it will be plentiful. But for those that do it anyways and overcome those challenges, well, their work ends up in the collections of Museums and collectors such as yourself. Admired by connoisseurs for being exemplars in their historical period. If I understand your past statements correctly, few other workshops are producing prints of your current caliber. What better way to seal the name of Mokuhankan then to do what no one else is doing and produce prints of the next level of quality. Something that hasn’t been seen in 30+ years or more? What better way to attract new skilled workers. If you’re worried of the financial risk involved, there is always Kickstarter or some other pay-in-advance method. I believe Mokuhankan is in a unique position to be bold and successfully accomplish a project like this.

Added by: Dave on July 6, 2020

Producing some kind of 'high-end' work is of course an interesting idea, and I'm not rejecting it out-of-hand. I've thought about such a project for many years - even predating the beginning of Mokuhankan.

There are some mid-20th century productions by Jacoulet that are almost beyond belief in their level of accomplishment. If these didn't actually exist, and somebody was describing them to me, I would just laugh ... "Like that could actually happen ..."

So why haven't we tried this (yet)? A few points:

  • ... actually, we are on the road towards this. Our recent Sushi Cats print for Jed-san is just as well made as those Jacoulet prints. It only has around 24 impressions - a lot fewer than the two examples above - but that's just a matter of scale. Quality wise, it's there ...
  • ... all of our people are busy. Our current business model of producing a subscription print every month - year in, year out - is so successful, we can't justify hurting that by taking the resources away, for other projects
  • ... I myself am far more comfortable with the idea of making prints that are affordable - for 'normal' people to obtain - than in making things only reachable by people who are very well off. I fully understand that the two are not mutually exclusive, but I know which way I need to utilize my resources at present ...

But thanks for taking the time to make the suggestion, and all I can say is ... please be patient!


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