Chikuho no Kodomotachi (Children of Coalminers) by Ken Domon
First Edition, 1960 - Good Conditon
First Hardcover Edition, 1977 - Near FINE Condition
In order to present this important title in the manner in which it deserves, I feel it is necessary to have the first edition, first printing accompanied by the first hardcover reissue. “Chikuho no Kodomotachi “Children of Coalminers” published by Patoria Shoten, Japan in 1960 was purposely printed on very poor quality paper to keep costs down so Domon could reach the biggest audience possible and show the appalling conditions in the impoverished coal-mining region of Chikuho (Fukuoka prefecture) where sulfur gases constantly leaked from a huge slag-heap causing a variety of bronchial infections for coalminers and their families. Although the first edition is printed on cheap paper and the quality of the reproductions is rather rough, it is precisely the lack of these qualities that add a genuine feel to this publication and make it an important historical document. I have included the first hardcover version of the book issued in 1977 by the same publisher so that these important images can be seen in a better production value.
The best critique of the book comes from Parr & Badger in their reference work, “The Photobook: A History”, … "Ken Domon is widely regarded as Japan's leading photographer of the immediate post-war years. He worked in the classic photojournalistic mode, seeking to document Japanese life in the troubled aftermath of the war. During the 1950s, at a time when the rest of the Japanese economy was beginning to recover to prewar levels, the coal-mining areas of Chikuho and Kitakyushu, in the far south of Japan, suffered both from a population exodus and pit closures. Domon documented the effects of this drastic decline on the miners and the plight of the district's children. He aimed to reach out to the broadest possible readership, thus he had the books printed cheaply, on rough paper, in the manner of a bound newspaper".
The 1960 first edition is a soft cover in photographically illustrated wraps. The condition of both the wraps and internals are GOOD with numerous flaws that result from the production value of the first edition. The first six photographs below highlight the condition of the wraps and internals. The 1977 hardcover version has a photographically illustrated dust jacket. The condition of the book and dust jacket is NEAR FINE+ with some slight wear to the edge of the dust jacket. The last three photographs below highlight the condition of the dust jacket and internals for the hardcover version. I have provided copies of the same page from the different editions for a few images so you can see the difference in production values.