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Specimen Tea Label. - Smile Extra Choicest Spring Leaf Japan Tea.

n.p. n.d. (early c20th?) Colour woodcut 39x34cm. An outstanding, crisply impressed copy. ¶ A fabulous and puzzling large label - ranji - for export tea chests that would do any sixties' album cover proud. I have learnt that woodcut printing survived for tea labels after other printing went litho because exporters didn't want the ink smell contaminating their tea. Printing quality was high, this was international advertising, but the labels that survive are of course remainders or samples. I take this to be a sample - the paper is good quality and heavy and the printing immaculate - for a label maybe never used. I have looked through hundreds of labels online without finding any Smile Tea. Can an expert put me straight? This has what a label needs: bright colours, bold contrast, lively typography and an arresting design. But it doesn't have what other tea labels have: a pretty picture that foreigners will immediately recognise as Japan. No elaborately kimonoed beauty, no Fuji, no lucky god. No kimonoed beauty on a tea plantation terrace with a lucky god in attendance and Fuji in the distance. What we have is a happy but somehow sinister character. With those ears he is surely a wrestler. But bald? Was there a happy bald wrestler famous enough in Japan that someone thought he might translate to the outside world? An ex-wrestler who became famous as the eternally cheerful muscle for the mob?
AUD 225.00 [Appr.: EURO 135.75 US$ 142.03 | £UK 117.75 | JP¥ 21289] Book number 10068

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