woodblock color print


The McLoughlin Brothers firm was one of the foremost publishers of children’s literature in 19th-century America, specializing in colored editions of children’s classics.

Before widely adopting color lithography in 1867, the McLoughlin Brothers experimented with stenciling and woodblock color printing. Earlier publications, like the library’s copy of the 1864 edition of The Three Little Crows (at top), were hand-colored by stenciling. The process was very labor-intensive as every color required its own stencil. While stenciling provided a light wash of color, the images lacked the rich, vibrant shades produced by color lithography (second image). To highlight the difference in color printing techniques, we’ve juxtaposed the hand-stenciled 1864 edition (on the right)  with McLoughlin Brothers’ later 1884 edition (on the left), printed using color lithography.

The Three Little Crows (New York: McLoughlin Brothers, 1864)
The Three Little Crows (New York: McLoughlin Brothers, 1884)

From the Children’s Literature Collection, University of South Florida Libraries

Kawase Hasui Tsuta Marsh, Mutsu, from Series Title: Souvenirs of Travel, 1st. Series, 1919 Color woodblock print Technique: Nishiki-e (Woodblock print with color blocks) Honolulu Museum of Art


Telescope, 1790, Edo era // by Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) by Miguel Catalan

Happy Spring Break, Oberlin College!

An example of surimono, or privately published prints, this work by Hochu is designed and printed in the style of paintings of the Rimpa School. It was commissioned by poet Reinichian Baisoku to celebrate his entry into his sixtieth year: “I am old enough this spring: fine weather in the plum tree.” Subtle embossing gives volume and depth to the image, while the delicate handling of color is enhanced by metallic pigment highlights.

Nakamura Hochu 中村方仲 (Japanese, active late 18th–early 19th century)
Pine Tree and Plum Blossom, 1810–30
Color woodblock print
Mary A. Ainsworth Bequest, 1950.700