Ronald Rutkowsky: 40-Years of Print Collecting

Ron started collecting ukiyo-e in the early 1970's when he lived in Yokosuka Japan. His first love was Japanese prints and swords. He was initially attracted to woodblock prints by the process of how they were produced and their overall beauty. After spending over 20 years in the US Military, and serving two tours in Vietnam, he retired in 1992. Ron then worked in Federal and local Law Enforcement until 2010 when he became disabled. He has been retired ever since and this gives him a lot of time to work on his hobbies which include collecting Nihonto, which is the Japanese sword.

Some of his key tips for new print collectors are:

Buy the book before the print, Join Ukiyo-e collectors groups and ask questions.

Ron is an active contributor on the Ukiyo-e Facebook groups for Kunichika and for Ukiyo-e.

One woodblock story Ron related was that he purchased a surimono by Hokusai that was being sold as a reprint, however it appeared to be genuine so he picked it up for a song. In the process the print was damaged by USPS. He placed a claim and was reimbursed for the damage. The print was verified by Sotheby's in London to be genuine and with the damage was estimated at $9,000 to $11,000. Sotheby's wanted to list it in one of their sales but Ron had to ship the print to London. Sotheby's didn't cover the shipping cost which was very, very high, on top of that the import red tape and fees were outrageous. The print remains in his collection for him to enjoy.

Ron has many favorite artist's, to name a few; Hokusai, Hiroshige, Chikanobu, and Utagawa Toyonobu. He is currently attempting to complete a little known series of prints by a late Meiji period artist Fujikawa Tamenobu.

As far as favorite prints go, he loves any of Hokusai's 36 Views of Mt Fuji series. Utagawa Toyonobu, An Unofficial History of Japan (Night Attack at the Horikawa Mansion). Chikanobu's Snow, Moon, and Flower series. The list can go on and on. Some prints from his favorite series are displayed below. 

 

Favorite Prints

Hokusai - red fuji
Hokusai's 36 Views of Mt. Fuji: Red Fuji

 

Asakusa
Hokusai's 36 Views of Mt. Fuji: Asakusa
Hiroshige’s Nihon Bashi from the 53 Stations of the Tokaido,
Hiroshige’s Nihon Bashi from the 53 Stations of the Tokaido
Fujikawa Tamenobu’s series: The Shanks Mare Tokaido. 
Fujikawa Tamenobu’s series: The Shanks Mare Tokaido: Hiratsuka
Night attack
Utagawa Toyonobu: An Unofficial History of Japan (Night Attack at the Horikawa Mansion)

 

Chikanobu snow moon flower
Snow, Moon, and Flowers: Yamashiro Kiyomizu Flower: by Toyohara Chikanobu