How Musa-shiya The Shirtmaker Broke Into Print (A LEGENDARY RARITY)

Mellen, George (not credited)

Published by Publisher not credited, 1923
Used / Soft cover / Quantity Available: 0
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No date stated, no publisher stated, no author (other than Musa-Shiya) listed, no later printings mentioned. We therefore presume this to be the 1923 first printing, ghost-written by advertising man George Mellen of the Charles R. Frazier Company, general advertising agents, who wrote the shirtmaker's famed (and very successful) pidgin-English advertisements for placement in the pages of the daily Honolulu Star-Bulletin (six of which are reproduced, here) in the early 1920s, and who is quoted in this 16-page booklet in the third person. In "Creating the Nisei Market" (University of Hawai'i Press, 2010), Shiho Imai attributes the campaign entirely to Mellen, former editor of the Hilo Tribune-Herald, who apparently on the strength of his success purchased the Frazier agency in 1926, re-naming it Mellen Associates. Ads from the campaign, which began as a weekly three-column-by-8-inch ad in the daily, were apparently picked up and re-run around the world, winning Musa-shiya (real name Koichiro Miyamoto -- the shop was actually named for his father's home town, Musashi) "an invitation to the Honolulu Advertising Club, a rare honor even among the city's haole businessmen." The "published collection was also used as a textbook in Stanford University's advertising classes," Imai reports, and won Mellen the Pacific Coast Advertising Clubs' 1925 silver cup for "most constructive and effective display of advertising for a specialty shop" . . . the racist caricature of the dry goods merchant apparently disturbing no one at the time. In fact, Imai is of the opinion that "These self-referential caricatures indicate that the proprietors at Musashiya accepted the Oriental stereotype and even exploited it to expand their clientele." A "Selective Checklist of DeGolyer Library Acquisitions (Southern Methodist University) 2008-2009" includes "56. [Clothing] Mellen, George. How Musa-Shiya The Shirtmaker Broke Into Print. (Honolulu, 1922?) 16pp + pictorial wrappers. Illus. ¶ The "story -- one is tempted to say romance -- of Musa-shiya the Shirtmaker and his adventures into the world of advertising . . . Campaign created by a Honolulu advertising firm to promote a local store that sold shirts made in Japan. It is unclear if Musa-Shiya was an actual person, although 'he' speaks in a fractured dialect reminiscent of Charlie Chan. This early version includes reproductions of six different ads. 16 pages." Despite its errors (the garments were tailored right there in Honolulu), this description matches the copy in hand, which indeed features six reproduced (reduced-size) advertisements and numbers 16 pp. (Second printing is reported to have been of 32 pp.) Reduced from $965. Bookseller Inventory #

Bibliographic Details

Title: How Musa-shiya The Shirtmaker Broke Into ...
Publisher: Publisher not credited
Publication Date: 1923
Binding: Soft cover
Book Condition: Very Good
Edition: 1st Edition

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