Ogawa Kazumasa - The Russo-Japanese War - 1906

Ogawa Kazumasa - The Russo-Japanese War - 1906
1 - Book

The [Japanese] Military Survey Department.
The Russo-Japanese War 日露戦争写真帖. Taken by the Photographic Department of the Imperial Headquarters. 大本營寫眞班撮影 © 1904, by the Military Survey Department.
Published by K. OGAWA, Tokyo, Japan. 1904-1906. Agents: Kelly Walsh, Ltd. Yokohama, Shanghai, Hongkong and Singapore.

24 individual volumes oblong in-4° (25,5 x 37,5 cm), contained in a new box, custom-made by a professional bookbinder. Following to the army corps it covers, each volume has stiff red, yellow, brown, light or charcoal gray paper wraps with black lettering in Japanese and English on front, and the respective army standard on the back. Issues were published on a monthly or semi-monthly basis during Meiji 37 (1904) and Meiji 38 (1905), Vol. 24 only in March 1906.

A total 677 of monochrome photographic plates in halftone, a number of them foldout with captioned tissue overlays, bound in 24 individual volumes. Each part has a title page, a table of Contents and ends with a colophon. Besides the Imperial Proclamation of War and the Preface by Ogawa Kazumasa at the start of Vol. 1, there are no text pages properly speaking. The plates are generally printed front and back. Except for the colophons, all printing is in Japanese and English.

The different volumes cover the activities and the war theaters of the First, Second, Third, Fourth, and of the Yalu and Karafuto [Sakhalin] Armies. Four other volumes were published separately, covering the role of the Navy in this war.

(It is to be noted that George C. Baxley, the bookmarkets worldwide authority on Japanese prints, books, stamps, and on Ogawa in particular, considers this series to be complete in 23 volumes, ignoring the 24th which, it is true, appeared in 1906 only. See: http://www.baxleystamps.com/litho/ogawa.shtml). Complete sets seem therefore to be very rare, even more so in the form of individual volumes ("individual volumes of the half-tone plates are seldom seen... I have only seen the halftone plates in the bound volume format"), this series being usually found, if at all, compiled in matching sets of two or up to six hardback volumes.
This book is a testament to Kazumasa Ogawa's very high status with the Japanese Government, and the Japanese Army in particular. He was granted unique access to official military photographs in order to prepare a timely photographic record of the war. The Government could have printed the photographs itself or contracted to have them printed. Instead, they were turned over to Ogawa and he was allowed to mass produce and distribute them commercially in the form of books (http://www.baxleystamps.com/litho/ogawa/ogawa_russo-jp_2vol.shtml)

The Russo-Japanese conflict was the first war to be fully recorded by the international media, with journalists, photographers, and even motion picture makers capturing the battles and publishing these images across the globe. The publication 大本營寫眞班撮影 = The Russo-Japanese War taken by the Photographic Department of the Imperial Headquarters, was produced by the notable Ogawa Kazumasa, a photographer, publisher, and pioneer of photomechanical reproduction. Ogawa was a talented marketer and understood the potential for photographic reproductions, providing images from tense battle scenes to the mundane moments waiting for action. (https://blogs.harvard.edu/preserving/2019/04/23/photographing-the-russo-japanese-war/)

Condition: The set is complete and overall in very good+ condition. There are a few and minor flaws (visible in the pictures), the most serious one being some discoloured damp patches on the first four pages of Vol. 10, not affecting the images, however.

Weight: 7,2 kg.

Lot details
Number of Books
Author/ Illustrator
Ogawa Kazumasa
Book Title
The Russo-Japanese War
Publication year oldest item
English, Japanese
Original language
Binding/ Material
Number of pages
25.5×37.5 cm
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