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Small Print Collection: Print #6

New Year Coin

David's New Year card for 1995

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The prints in this 'Small Print Collection' are split exactly 50/50 into two groups: five images of my own design, and five taken from other sources. When you saw the previous print, I am sure you had no doubt at all as to which of the two groups it belonged!

This one too I sketched myself, something that you can tell instantly when you see the tatami mat pattern, a kind of recurring theme for me in these little new year prints!

Japanese viewers need no explanation of this design, but as half of the collectors of this series are foreigners, I suspect that many of them may not know what this represents. The object lying on the tatami mat is an o-toshi-dama bukuro, an envelope holding the coin traditionally given to small children as a new year present.

When people are out visiting at the new year season, they prepare these in advance if they know there will be children present. I think that back in the old days these presents were quite eagerly awaited by young children, but I suppose that the 'thrill' is not so strong these days.

I have a memory from the time when I first created this print more than ten years ago - one of my daughters 'complained' about the colour when she saw it. "Dad, you got the tatami colour wrong; they aren't green, they are brown!"

Well in our house at the time, they certainly were brown! It was beyond our means to follow the traditional custom and have them all replaced (or recovered) with fresh new ones for the new year season. But in this print at least, the custom has been observed!

When I was carving this print I had to make a decision; what should I do about the contents of the envelope? I could perhaps have ignored that; after all, this is a woodblock print, and we of course can't see 'inside' an object depicted in an image.

Or can we? Make sure your hands are clean, flip it over, and take a look!