A fine collection of “Osaka Shibai ehon” [“Osaka illustrated theater playbills”].

48 playbills, all with block-printed covers & all but one with color stencilling (kappazuri) on the covers, all composed of three or four leaves, block-printed throughout with full-page illus. 48 vols. Small 4to (190 x 135 mm.), each self-bound. Osaka: various theaters (see below), 1844-49.

A remarkable survival: a collection of 48 kabuki theater playbills from Dotonbori, the historical theater district of Osaka. These playbills, which are also called ezukushi banzuke (“abundantly illustrated popularity charts”), all have three or four leaves. The covers, color-printed using stencils (kappazuri), depict the main characters and the icon of the theater, and the succeeding leaves depict the story of the play or plays, with accompanying explanation of the plot. These works were sold at theaters and teahouses as a production began. Some of these playbills have a fourth leaf, which is a popularity chart of the actors.

At the time of the production of these playbills, Dotonbori had six main theaters and many smaller venues. The names of the theaters in this collection include: Naka za, Kado za, Takeda za, Chikugo za, and Wakatayu za.

In fine condition. All of these playbills have been preserved in a contemporary paper wrapper by an early theater-lover.

Price: $4,250.00

Item ID: 6612

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