Many of you know I collect artifacts, bits...of buildings, melted roof tiles, melted windows with wood in them, fused ceramic and metal, blasted electrical bits with aggregate...things from the Hiroshima Atomic Bombing. That blast stuff is very hard to authenticate. I also collect Survivor autographs - the closer to 1945 the better. Of the many signatures I have, even from this one man, and the many I have examined, this is the earliest yet by a full year. It's a man whose material I collect seriously.
Kiyoshi Kikkawa opened a "souvenir shop" near the Dome in mid-late 1951 and spoke and traveled and was a great proponent of peace. He helped to preserve the Dome. Shown below is him in the Red Cross hospital in 1946 or '47, the earliest signature I have seen, him after this still in the Red Cross Hospital (he left in April 1951 citing poor food and treatment), him signing his autobiography in his "Atomic Shop" near the Genbaku Dome 1953, the autobiography, signed and stamped, a rare snapshot from June,1952 showing him being photographed by solders - he had a badly flash-burned back with keloid formations I won't show here, and he would expose it ceremoniously for anyone who asked, and - a rare color slide of his shop in about 1954. Click to see entire image.
My friend Kayo, who lives in Hiroshima and helps me with footwork in placing the location of original Kikkawa shop(s) and photographs the yearly festival for me, has told me of that texture.
I think that this man took what could easily be described at the worst of circumstances and, using what he had, essentially opened a legitimate "autograph shop" to survive is of note to our hobby.
Yes, well, I collect because of what this man did with his situation, rising above his dismal situation in 1951 like a phoenix from the ashes and making good from bad for him and his wife He was, and is, quite famous for his efforts, especially for visiting Hibakusha who would not be seen in public. His widow says he wore out many pairs of shows this way. Much of the tile material and glass in the Peace Museum you must have visited was collected and donated by him. This not a military or war collection or even Atomic. It's a man. I must have 100 pieces by Kikkawak by now, including sculpture, and I also deal in this material to specialist collectors abroad. Little is blast or fragmentary material, although interesting is strong - most is original slides and photographs, early book and the like.
Yes, I know what happened.
Kudos to you for a thoughtful post and for establishing yourself in such an important and imaginative field of collecting. If more collectors (and dealers, frankly) had your vision and creativity, all our hobbies and fields would be more compelling.
I have a collecting interest in original photographs, captured in the immediate aftermath of the bomb blasts at Hiro and Nagasaki. The history of censorship around information and images of both cities makes it a difficult task.
Thank you for the kind and thoughtful post. I would be very interested to talk with you about your collection. Drop me a PM and we can chat.