A collection of 177 wood blocks is described, each bearing a red impression of the seal of Chikusai Kato dated ‘11 Meiji’, i.e. 1878, and consisting of a minimum of nine elements: the rectangular wood block proper, four cylindrical slices cut from branches and fixed to the corners, and four more or less rectangular pieces of bark and underlying wood fixed to the edges of the wood block. This arrangement offers a quick impression of wood characters in longitudinal and cross sections as well as an idea of the bark. 136 species are represented, most of them native to Japan, some specimens have been taken from introduced trees. In addition, each wood block carries a painting, being an accurate illustration of the species from which the wood sample is taken and, usually, showing a twig, leaves, flowers, fruits, seeds, etc. Clearly painted in the western tradition, these figures testify to the new approach to plant illustration characteristic of the Meiji period, which had started a few years before Chikusai Kato's xylothek was finished. 152 of these wood blocks are kept in the Botanical Museum Berlin-Dahlem, 25 in the Economic Botany Collections at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, all belonging to the same series.
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Vol. 28 • No. 1/2