There are a number of factors which influence a prints price. One of those being the nature of the signature on the print. With Toshi Yoshida there are three variants of his ‘western style’ signature found on nearly all his prints which is the topic for this article. There is a fourth variant of his signature, that being pencil signed in Japanese kanji which appears on his prints from the 1980′s (eg. Birds of the Seasons and the Friendly Garden triptych) produced for the Franklin Mint.
Posthumous Prints: Those prints made after Toshi Yoshida’s death by the Yoshida family/studio. The artists signature is applied to the print with a stamp. These are generally the cheapest prints to buy but the quality is still very high and you are still getting a hand-made product.
Raised Seal Prints: These are prints made towards the end of his lifetime when still supervising print production at the studio but was too weak to hand sign the prints. As with posthumous prints the artists signature is applied to the print and a stamped embossed seal is also added to the print (typically in the bottom right margin). Price-wise these prints tend to sit between the posthumous and hand-signed print prices.
Pencil Signed Prints: These are lifetime prints hand signed in pencil by the artist himself and tend to be the most expensive.
When buying a print it’s important to know (among other factors) whether the print is pencil signed, a raised seal edition or a posthumous edition.
Signature example – Posthumous print.
The easiest way to spot a posthumous print is by viewing the prints verso. If there are Japanese kanji characters in the verso margin then it’s a posthumous print. You don’t always get a chance to see a prints verso (as it may be framed or you may be buying/bidding online) but you can also tell by checking the artists signature on the print.
My personal rules to test for a stamped/posthumous signature are…
if the last three characters show
(a) a gap between the ‘i’ and the ‘d’.
(b) the ‘d’ sits higher that the ‘i’ and the ‘a’.
(c) the loop of the ‘a’ is closed.
It’s not guaranteed, but if the above tests are true then it’s very likely to be a stamped signature print.
Signature example – Raised seal print.
As can be seen above the signature matches the stamped/posthumous one and there is an embossed seal to the right of the signature so this is a lifetime raised seal print.
Signature example – Pencil signed print.
Pencil signed prints do not have stamped kanji characters on the verso and do not have an embossed image beside the signature. Often the loop of the ‘a’ is open. The signature will not match those on the posthumous prints however there is no guarantee that this is always the case. I have seen one or two that are close but I suspect that the carving of the signature to make the stamp probably made it unique.