(JAPAN). ~ [Album of Mon. Japan, later nineteenth century].
Oblong 8vo (110 × 170 mm), 73 pages, in concertina form, each page with 2 mounted stencilled kamon in colours, the earlier pages with manuscript captions, partly in German. Spotting to the opening page, occasional thumbing and light smudging. Original decorative silk brocade covered light boards, rubbed.
Circular emblems known as mon or kamon held a similar function to family crests in European heraldry. Applied to individuals, families, feudal shogunates and to the nation as a whole, their decorative emblems were usually incorporated into roughly circular forms. This unusual Meiji period album is a hierarchical register of kamon opening with the familiar red hinomaru sun emblem (adopted as the national flag in 1870), the flowers of the imperial family and the imperial chrysanthemum emblem, followed by those of the leading families and territories of Japan. Clearly a Japanese production, the added German manuscript text of the last part of the nineteenth-century, helps to date the album to the early years of the opening of Japan to European travellers and merchants. It perhaps served to interpret traditional Japanese family emblems for foreigners. Some of the captions to the shogunate kamon include the traditional numerical assessment of koku or feudal value, the units based originally on measures of rice on which their wealth was assessed.