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Swann Auction Galleries to sell historic archive tracing the origins of modern Japan
Color woodblock map of Uraga and Edo Bay showing the course of Commodore Perry's Black Ship squadron, Japan, circa 1854. Estimate $7,000 to $10,000.

NEW YORK, NY.- When a US navy commander brought a dramatic end to 250 years of Japanese isolationism, it marked the beginning of the modern era for the nation.

Operating under Presidential orders, Commodore Matthew Perry employed gunboat diplomacy to intimidate the Japanese authorities into signing the Convention of Kanagawa in 1854, the first of many international treaties and the event that led to the opening up of Japanese ports to global trade and the establishment of diplomatic relations with the West.

Now Swann Auction Galleries is set to offer an archive of original papers linked to Perry and these historic events at their Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plates Books auction on December 13 in New York.

Leading the highlights is a complete bound volume of 18 miniature double-page woodblock illustrations telling the tale of Perry’s first arrival in Japan at Uraga at the entrance to Edo Bay and the ensuing negotiations and contact between his forces and the Japanese. Dating to 1854, the volume is estimated at $7,000 to $10,000.

A Manuscript Report on the Arrival of Perry & the Black Ships includes two large Japanese portraits of Perry and his commanding officer, Commander Henry A Adams, as well as 46 manuscript pages featuring a double-page map depicting the arrival of Commodore Perry and the Black Ships of his fleet. Dating to 1853, the estimate is $2,500 to $3,500.

Also contemporary with the events themselves is an ink and watercolour political manuscript map of Japan showing Perry’s Black Ship at the entrance of Edo Bay. Titled Gashu Koku Shokan Wakai, the 50-page manuscript translates into Japanese official letters and documents

directed to the Japanese Emperor from President Millard Fillmore, Secretary of State Edward Everett and Perry. The estimate is $1,800 to $2,200.

Other Perry-related highlights, both of the period, include two lots of large woodblocks depicting Perry's arrival in Japan on July 8, 1853. Each is estimated at $1,000 to $1,500.

Swann Galleries’ specialist Caleb Kiffer said: “We are very pleased to have the opportunity to bring this selection of Perry-related material to the market. Interest in previous sales has been strong and we are looking to continue that with this excellent grouping of historical documents, many of which are unique and never before seen."

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