Ninagawa's Kanko zusetsu, or 'Kwan-ko-dzu-setsu' as it was generally transliterated at the time, was the first attempt at a scientific, chronological study of Japanese ceramics and is of especial interest for the quality of the lithographic illustrations by Kamei Chiichi, possibly based on the European 17th- and 18th-century tradition of natural history drawing. By contrast to the flat chromolithography employed in George Audsley and James Lord Bowes's imposing but wholly inaccurate Keramic Art of Japan (see Lots 214 and 220), published in 1875, Kamei's illustrations are highly unusual in featuring examples mostly of early rather than recent ceramics and in showing them in profile with additional views of shards and shard profiles. Kanko zusetsu exercised a strong influence on A.W.Franks (1826-97), Keeper of British and Medieval Antiquities at the British Museum from 1866 to 1896, who acknowledged his debt to Ninagawa in the second edition of his own catalogue of Japanese ceramics.1 The work was published in an edition of only 300 copies and is now exceptionally scarce. If the on-line union catalogue is to be believed there appear to be no copies in Japanese university libraries, and volumes three to five of the French translation may be unrecorded, since Rousmaniere states that 'two volumes were translated into French . . . but the rest remained in Japanese'.
1 Nicole Coolidge Rousmaniere, 'A.W.Franks, N. Ninagawa and the British Museum: Collecting Japanese Ceramics in Victorian Britain', Orientations 33, no. 2 (Feb. 2002), pp. 26-34 and especially p. 31