Vintage Japanese & Chinese bookmarks

This month, I would like to ‘show-off’ some of my vintage stationery collection from both my childhood and travels. Even though I have loved stationery since I was a child, I never thought that I would be selling stationery one day, so life is really full of surprises sometimes!

Recently I found a bag full of vintage bookmarks in my drawer, all the Japanese ones were bought during my travels with my family to Japan when I was young, so they have sentimental values to me. These vintage Japanese bookmarks range from souvenir style ( i.e. Mount Fuji and Tokyo Tower) to the more traditional ones, but my favourites are the fairy tale/ folklore ones with storylines and characters… I have not seen these types of bookmarks around in Japan these days, so they are really quite special.


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Unlike the Japanese bookmarks, most of the Chinese ( the Communist style) vintage bookmarks were discovered accidentally when I was visiting a Japanese designer friend living in Shanghai about 12 years ago. We stumbled upon a vintage toys stall at a touristy market in the city when the vendours were packing up to leave. Since we showed a lot of interest in the vintage toys, the passionate owner invited us to his narrow house behind the stall. After we greeted his wife, he told us to follow him up to his attic via a narrow set of wooden staircase where he revealed his ‘treasure’… an amazing collection of vintage toys, collectible memorabilia, old photographs of Shanghai, vintage stationery, adverts and packaging. My friend and I thought we had discovered Aladdin’s cave! We spent the next hour or two ramaging through his collection and ended up leaving with a bag full of stuff that most people would regard as ‘junk’. Among the ‘junk’ are these bookmarks that trace an important era in the Chinese history that was long gone… I doubt the small stall is still there now ( assuming that he has moved onto a more profitable venture), I am just glad to have discovered these seemingly unimportant bookmarks that reveal how life used to be in China only a few decades earlier.


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