In 1958, at ten years old, I became a stamp collector. In Boy's Life I found advertisements for "Stamps on Approval," and sent off for my free introductory packets of international postage stamps. A few weeks later the packets began to arrive and I was well on my way to my merit badge in philately. I soon had identified a number of favorite stamps, and none were more special to me than the Japanese issues of World War II. That conflict was less than two decades past, and most of the adults in my life had vivid, somewhat bitter memories. It was an odd, rather rebellious thrill to handle stamps that had once belonged to "the enemy." My very favorites were ungummed without perforations. Apparently they had to be cut apart with scissors and glued with adhesive found around home. The designs were simple but elegant, and often featured Mount Fuji. They were produced by typography or lithography in pure colors.
Mount Fuji and cherry blossoms [Scott #355] was produced 1945-7 by offset lithography. The design was also issued in a blue 20s variety, which was a reissue of a similar typographed version released as a perforated stamp in 1942. All versions trace to a rather more elegant 1940 ultramarine blue Mt. Fuji and cherry blossoms, an engraved design issued as a perforated stamp. As an engraving, the 1940 version has a delicate bank-note precision later versions lack, but I prefer the rougher late varieties.
Paper Type: Rice Paper, Legion Mulberry White 38 [Utrecht #19118]
Paper Size: 9.75" x 13" [24.8cm x 33cm]
Image size: 4" x 5" [10.2cm x 12.7cm]
Edition Size: 50
Inks Used: Van Son Rubber-based Reflex Blue
Date cut: 6 Mar 2001
Production Notes: I scanned a Japanese postage stamp [Scott #355] then printed a reversed copy onto parchment paper [Bienfang No. 100] and glued this onto the linoleum block using Photo Mount [3M No. 6092]. I cut directly through the paper using stencil cutters under a stereo dissecting microscope [Bausch & Lomb 13x’] and printed as a collage with a genuine stamp glued [UHUstic Baton de colle] in the lower right corner.
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