Sale 1248 — The Magnolia Collection of U.S. Mail in China and Japan: Part 1
Sale Date — Thursday, 16 December, 2021
Category — Pre-Consulate Mail in Japan
VERY FINE. THE ONLY RECORDED EXAMPLE OF ANY OFFICIAL HANDSTAMPED MARKING ASSOCIATED WITH THE 1853-54 PERRY EXPEDITION TO JAPAN, WHICH LED TO THE TREATY OF KANAGAWA AND OPENING OF JAPAN TO RELATIONS WITH WESTERN NATIONS. APART FROM THE POSTAL HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE OF THE COVER, THE LETTER SIGNED BY COMMODORE PERRY DURING THE EXPEDITION HAS ENORMOUS IMPORTANCE AS A HISTORICAL MANUSCRIPT. WITHOUT QUESTION THE PREMIER POSTAL ARTIFACT RELATED TO THE OPENING OF JAPAN.
Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry, the renowned Father of the Steam Navy and younger brother of Oliver Hazard Perry, was 59 years old and suffering from the effects of rheumatoid arthritis and alcohol-induced liver disease when he sailed into Edo Bay in July 1853 and successfully pressured the Tokugawa shogunate government to allow him and his military entourage to land on Japan's shores and present a letter from President Fillmore to Emperor Komei.
At first reluctant to take on what he considered to be a nearly impossible mission, Commodore Perry embarked from Hampton Roads on November 24, 1852, in command of the steam-powered U.S.S. Mississippi. After coal stops at Madeira, St. Helena, Cape of Good Hope, Mauritius, Ceylon and Singapore, the Mississippi arrived at Hong Kong on April 7, 1853, where she was joined by two sloops of war, the U.S.S. Plymouth and Saratoga. The expedition's designated flagship, the U.S.S. Susquehanna, had already left Hong Kong to transport three diplomats to Shanghai. Perry ordered the Plymouth to Shanghai to instruct the Susquehanna's commander to wait for the rest of the squadron to arrive.
After stopping at Macau and visiting Canton, Perry traveled up the Yangtze River to Shanghai, arriving on May 4. For the next two weeks, preparations were made and the commander's flag was transferred to the Susquehanna. On May 16 and 17 the Mississippi, Susquehanna, Supply and Caprice embarked from Shanghai and anchored at the mouth of the Yangtze River. The Plymouth remained at Shanghai to guard American interests, and the Saratoga awaited the arrival of the expedition's interpreter. The entire squadron planned to meet at "Loo Choo," the American name for the Ryukyu Islands (Okinawa).
On May 23 Perry ordered Lieutenant Commander William L. Maury to take the supply ship Caprice to Napha on "Loo Choo," which is documented in the letter offered here. The squadron landed there on May 26. After a mid-June visit to Ogasawara Island, they left for Japan on July 2 and arrived in Edo Bay on July 8. For the next five days, Perry and what the Japanese called his four "Black Ships" engaged in gunboat diplomacy to force the government to grant permission for a landing party to present President Fillmore's letter to the Emperor. On July 14 Perry was received at Kurihama Hall amid a display of American pomp and circumstance, and he presented the presidential letter, as well as three missives of his own and, according to some historians, a fourth message accompanied by two white flags, with instructions for how to use them in the event it became necessary.
Illustrated in Frajola-Perlman-Scamp book (p. 26).
Ex Ryohei Ishikawa and Floyd E. Risvold.
VERY FINE. THE U.S.S. SUPPLY WAS THE FIRST VESSEL TO CARRY UNITED STATES MAIL TO MEMBERS OF COMMODORE PERRY'S 1854 RETURN EXPEDITION TO JAPAN, WHICH CULMINATED IN THE SIGNING OF THE TREATY OF KANAGAWA. THIS IS THE ONLY RECORDED COVER FROM THAT TRIP.
After departing from Japan on July 17, 1853, Perry's squadron sailed to China. He had informed the Japanese government of his intention to return, and, on February 13, 1854, a squadron of 8 to 10 ships and 1,600 men sailed into Edo Bay. An agreement was reached to convene at Kanagawa (Yokohama). With Perry's "Black Ships" anchored off shore, gifts were exchanged and the group was entertained by Japanese Sumo wrestlers and American minstrel performers. On March 31, 1854, the Convention of Kanagawa was signed, the crowning achievement of Perry's expedition.
This cover was mailed in November 1853 from the United States to John Sewall, a captain's clerk on the U.S.S. Saratoga, and reached Hong Kong on February 13, 1854. The U.S. storeship Supply had been ordered to join Perry's squadron in Edo Bay and, according to Sewall's diary, it reached them on March 19, 1854, the receipt date of the docketing on this cover. Therefore, this is the earliest mail carried to Perry's squadron while it was located in Japan, since no other vessel could have brought mail from the homeland any earlier.
Illustrated in Frajola-Perlman-Scamp book (p. 27) and described as "carried on the first vessel to transport mail from Hong Kong to members of the second Perry expedition while stationed in Japan."
VERY FINE. AN EXTREMELY RARE USE OF THE 3-CENT NESBITT ENTIRE TO THE FAR EAST, AND HISTORICALLY SIGNIFICANT AS A COVER DELIVERED TO A MEMBER OF COMMODORE PERRY'S RETURN EXPEDITION TO JAPAN ABOUT ONE MONTH AFTER THE TREATY OF KANAGAWA WAS SIGNED ON MARCH 31, 1854.
The U.S.S. Mississippi was the steam vessel commanded by Commodore Matthew C. Perry on his historic voyage to China and Japan in 1852-53. At Shanghai in May 1853 Perry's flag was moved from the Mississippi to the Susquehanna. The Mississippi took part in the July 1853 expedition to Edo Bay and returned with Perry's squadron in February 1854 for the second expedition and treaty signing. It was still in Japan in June 1854, as documented in Perry's narrative, so Dr. Lynah should have received this cover in May.
VERY FINE. A RARE COVER AND LETTER FROM AN AMERICAN NAVAL SURGEON WITH COMMODORE PERRY'S SQUADRON DURING THE 1853 EXPEDITION TO JAPAN, SENT FROM CHINA AS A SHIP LETTER AND CARRIED BY BRITISH MAIL TO THE UNITED STATES.
During Commodore Perry's first expedition to Japan in 1852-53, the U.S.S. Susquehanna arrived in "Loo Choo" (Ryukyu Islands) on May 17, 1853, and departed May 26. In mid-June the squadron visited Ogasawara Island. The cover and letter offered here were sent by Dr. DuBarry, the fleet surgeon, during this phase of the expedition. He left the fleet and boarded the Richard Alsop on its return voyage from China, probably due to illness. Dr. DuBarry wrote this letter to his wife while at sea on June 9. It entered the British Post Office at Canton on June 21, 1853, and was treated as a ship letter at the British Post Office in Hong Kong on June 22. From there it traveled on the Peninsular & Oriental route, arriving in London August 20, for continued service to the United States by a Cunard packet.
VERY FINE. THIS COVER--CARRIED BY THE CAROLINE E. FOOTE FROM HAKODATE IN JUNE 1855--IS THE EARLIEST RECORDED COVER FROM JAPAN TO THE UNITED STATES.
The 1854 Convention of Kanagawa opened two ports to American vessels, Shimoda and Hakodate. A detailed account of the Americans who arrived in Japan on the Caroline E. Foote is found in a children's history book, Commodore Perry in the Land of the Shogun, by Rhoda Blumberg:
"Soon after news of the Treaty of Kanagawa was published in Hawaiian newspapers, a group of American merchants chartered a schooner, the Caroline E. Foote. They wanted to set up a supply depot and import-export offices in Japan. Using sailing directions that were published by Commodore Perry, they arrived at Shimoda in March 1855... The town had been hit by an earthquake and tidal waves in December 1854. All but sixteen Shimoda buildings had been destroyed, and hundreds of people had drowned... Six Yankee merchants, three wives, and two children from the Foote were housed in a temple... The passengers of the Foote became known as 'American Pioneers.' Although they stayed in Shimoda almost three months, they were unable to establish a trading post there. They left for Hakodate in June 1855, where they also failed."
The schooner Caroline E. Foote set sail from Hakodate on June 23, 1855, with the families on board. The vessel also carried the captain, nine officers and 150 men of the crew of the Russian frigate Diana, which was destroyed during the earthquake at Shimoda in December 1854. They brought the Russians to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, which they discovered had been abandoned, and from there the Russians boarded the American brig William Penn (Daily Alta California 9/18/1855). This cover was carried to San Francisco on the Caroline E. Foote, which arrived September 17. It was postmarked with the September 20 departure date for the next Panama sailing.
VERY FINE. THIS EXTRAORDINARY COVER IS THE ONLY RECORDED EXAMPLE OF MAIL FROM JAPAN THAT WAS SENT VIA THE UNITED STATES CONSULATE IN VICTORIA, VANCOUVER ISLAND. AN IMPORTANT COVER FROM THE EARLY PERIOD OF UNITED STATES AND JAPAN MAILS.
Francis Hall, whose family resided in Ellington, Connecticut, started a bookstore in Elmira, New York, in 1842. After the death of his wife and sale of his bookstore, Hall traveled to Japan in 1859 and worked as a news correspondent for Greeley's New York Tribune. After establishing himself in Kanagawa, in 1862 he became a partner in the firm of Walsh, Hall & Co. Despite the company's success, Hall left in 1866 and returned to the United States. Hall kept an extensive journal of his experiences in Japan, which was published in 1992. He also formed an important Japanese art and antiques collection that was dispersed after his death in 1902. Many of the early covers from Japan to the United States come from Hall correspondence, and the origin notations reflect his careful journalistic mind. He also utilized different routes to send mail to the United States.
Illustrated in Frajola-Perlman-Scamp book (p. 38)
EXTREMELY FINE. AN EXCEEDINGLY RARE COVER SENT FROM JAPAN TO THE UNITED STATES AND CARRIED UNDER THE NEW PACIFIC MAIL STEAMSHIP COMPANY CONTRACT ON THE FIRST EASTBOUND (RETURN) TRIP OF THE COLORADO.
The Pacific Mail Steamship Co. Colorado made its first eastbound (return) trip on February 28, 1867, from Yokohama to San Francisco. This cover from Japan was among the letters carried that trip. The Colorado arrived in San Francisco March 20. Mail from this trip addressed to San Francisco was postmarked March 20, and overland mail, such as this cover, was postmarked March 21, the date of the next departure. There are ten reported covers from the Colorado's maiden eastbound trip, all of which bear the "STEAM CHINA" handstamp, including seven struck in red and three in black (source: Frajola-Perlman-Scamp, pages 57-58, 86-88). Other covers with the "STEAM CHINA" handstamp are offered in lots 2041 and 2075.
This cover was subject to the 10c blanket ship-letter rate, since there was no treaty providing for a different rate on mail between the United States and Japan. Credit was given for the two 3c 1861 stamps, and the "Due 4" marking indicated postage due from the addressee to make up the 10c rate.
Illustrated in Jesse L. Coburn, Letters of Gold (p. 127), Frajola-Perlman-Scamp book (p. 58) and Matsumoto Jun Ichi, A History of The French Post Office of Yokohama (p. 190).
Ex Meroni, Ishikawa, Drucker and Walske.