Hokusai Originals are far more Valuable than Reproductions

Original Hokusai prints are far more valuable than reproductions due to their rarity and historical significance. Hokusai was a prolific artist who produced a large number of prints during his lifetime, but many of these prints were lost or destroyed over time. As a result, original Hokusai prints are highly sought after by collectors and art enthusiasts.

From Hokusais 36 Views of Mt Fuji See fuji in the background with large abstract boat in the foreground

Reproductions, on the other hand, are modern copies of Hokusai’s original prints. While reproductions can be high-quality and visually stunning, they lack the historical and artistic significance of the original prints. As a result, reproductions are generally less valuable than original prints and are often sold at a much lower price point.  There have been many restrikes over the years, for example, of Hokusai’s most famous work – 36 Views of Mt. Fuji.

It is difficult to determine the exact number of reproductions of Hokusai’s “36 Views of Mount Fuji” that have been made, as the series has been reproduced and reprinted many times over the years.  But it is safe to say that most Hokusai Mt Fuji prints you see floating around eBay, or at your average art shop, are likely reproductions.

Red Fuji Hokusai

Hokusai created the “36 Views of Mount Fuji” series in the 1820s and 1830s, and the original woodblock prints were produced in limited editions.  Even though, it has been said that the Great Wave off Kanagawa, Hokusai’s most famous print, was likely printed around 4,000 times.  Many of these copies have likely been lost over the years due to loss, fire, and earthquakes.  However, the popularity of the series led to numerous reproductions and reprints being made in the following years, particularly after Hokusai’s death in 1849.

Since then, the series has been widely reproduced and reprinted in various formats, including lithographs, offset prints, and digital prints. The number of reproductions and reprints made over the years is likely in the thousands, if not tens of thousands.

The price of a reproduction and an original can vary significantly due to several factors.

  1. Rarity: Original Hokusai prints are rare and have a limited supply, which makes them more valuable than reproductions. In contrast, reproductions are mass-produced, and their supply is generally not limited.
  2. Authenticity: The authenticity of an original Hokusai print is unquestionable and can be verified by art experts. Reproductions, on the other hand, may be of lower quality and are not considered original works of art.
  3. Condition: The condition of an original Hokusai print can significantly affect its value. Prints that are in excellent condition and have not been damaged or restored are more valuable than prints that are in poor condition. Reproductions are typically in pristine condition, as they are newly produced.
  4. Age: The age of an original Hokusai print can also affect its value. Older prints that have been well-preserved and are in good condition are generally more valuable than newer prints. Reproductions are typically new and do not have an age value.

An original Hokusai Woodblock in March 2021 a rare first-edition Hokusai woodblock print titled “The Great Wave off Kanagawa” sold for $1.6 million at a Christie’s auction in New York. The print was in excellent condition and had excellent provenance, which contributed to its high value.


This is in stark contrast to reproductions, where as a reproduction Hokusai Woodblock can range in value from a few dollars to a few hundred dollars, depending on the quality and production method. For example, a high-quality reproduction of “The Great Wave off Kanagawa” produced using traditional woodblock printing techniques can cost around $200-$300.

This may look like an original Hoksuai great wave but this is in fact a very good reproduction albeit still a woodblock print

Determining the authenticity of a Hokusai Great Wave woodblock print can be a complex process that requires the expertise of a trained art appraiser or specialist. We are here to help you with that task should the need arise.  Please get in contact with us for a free consultation of your antique, original Hokusai woodblock prints.  We are happy to help!  Email us:  [email protected], or submit a contact form.

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