As some of us have seen up close, the Japanese are really interesting adaptors, taking bits or swaths of technologies (physical and ideological) from the West and doing their own thing with them. Neon, pet cemeteries, politicking via loudspeaker, youth-oriented culture. You know the drill. Photography made it to Japan just a little late -- for instance, as far as I know, there are no daguerreotypes made in Japan. But the second-wave technology of unique image-making, the ambrotype, gained purchase. Sakura-do, a Tokyo ephemera and photo dealer (if only I'd known), has put up two great galleries of them.
As interesting as the subjects and pose are, even more so are the cases. (Dags, ambros, and, to a lesser extent, tintypes are known as cased images, for obvious reasons. Some nuts collect only the cases.) In America (the main market for ambro's and tins -- Europe did dags and then switched to paper pretty quickly), cases were hinged and made of gutta percha, an odd early attempt at a plastic material. In Japan, ambros came in hand-made wooden boxes, often with something written, in brush and ink, on the exterior. The post-mortem is one of the best. And so is the wine party with three geisha, which reminds me of Nikko and Triangle liquor.Posted by dbrown at February 17, 2004 10:03 PM