Narrative of the Expedition of an American Squadron to the China Seas and Japan, Performed in the Years 1852, 1853, and 1854, under the Command of Commodore M.C. Perry, United States Navy, by Order of the Government of the United States

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Author: Perry, Matthew Calbraith (1794-1858)

Year: 1856

Publisher: A O P Nicholson

Place: Washington, D C

Description:

3 volumes: xvii+[1]+537 pages with 90 lithographs plates including the usual expunged bathing plate, many in color, including 3 "facsimiles" of Japanese woodblock prints (2 folding); 6 maps and charts (2 folding); 79 woodcuts in the text; [2]+414+[4]+14-1+xi pages with 4 color lithographs of Chinese scenes; 2 uncolored natural history engraved plates; 6 hand-colored lithographs of birds; 10 hand-colored steel-engravings of fish; 5 lithographs of shells, 2 hand-colored; 16 diagram plates of winds and currents; 14-page facsimile of Japanese language version of the U.S.-Japan treaty; 17 folding charts on 16 sheets; numerous woodcuts in the text; xliii+[1]+705+[1] pages woodcut star charts throughout. Volume III titled "United States Japan Expedition. Observations on the zodiacal light, from April 2, 1853, to April 22, 1855, ... by Rev. George Jones, A.M., chaplain United States Navy". Quarto (11½ x8 ¾") bound in the original blind stamped cloth. Volume 1 rebacked with the original cloth spine laid down. (Hill 1332; Sabin 30968) First edition of the House Issue.

Detailed and profusely illustrated account of Perry's expedition to open Japan to the West; Upon his return to the U.S., his chief duty for the following year was to compile his reports of the expedition, aided by Francis Hawks. The first volume has the account of the voyage and lithographs of the travel; the second volume has the natural history reports by D.S. Green and others and includes hand-colored plates of Japanese fishes and shells. In addition to the artist W. Heine, from whose drawings a great number of the lithographs were made, the daguerreotypist E. Brown, Jr., went on the expedition, taking what were undoubtedly the earliest photographic images of Japan, many of them reproduced lithographically in this work. This copy with the nude bathing plate, which was not included on the list of plates and not issued in all copies.

In advance of his voyage to the Far East, Commodore Perry read widely amongst available books about Tokugawa Japan. His research even included consultation with the increasingly well-known Japanologist Philipp Franz von Siebold, who had lived on the Dutch island of Dejima for eight years before retiring to Leiden in the Netherlands. In 1852, Perry embarked from Norfolk, Virginia for Japan, in command of a squadron in search of a Japanese trade treaty. Aboard a black-hulled steam frigate, he ported Mississippi, Plymouth, Saratoga, and Susquehanna at Uraga Harbor near Edo (modern Tokyo) on July 8, 1853. His actions at this crucial juncture were informed by a careful study of Japan's previous contacts with Western ships and what could be known about the Japanese hierarchical culture. He was met by representatives of the Tokugawa Shogunate who told him to proceed to Nagasaki, where there was limited trade with the Netherlands and which was the only Japanese port open to foreigners at that time. Perry refused to leave and demanded permission to present a letter from President Millard Fillmore, threatening force if he was denied. Perry ordered his ships to attack several buildings around the harbor to demonstrate US naval power. The Commodore was fully prepared for more hostilities if his negotiations with the Japanese failed, and threatened to use unrestrained fire if the Japanese refused to negotiate. He sent two white flags to them, telling them to hoist the flags when they wished a bombardment from his fleet to cease and to surrender. Perry's ships were equipped with new Paixhans shell guns, capable of wreaking great destruction with every shell. The Japanese military forces could not resist Perry's modern weaponry; the term "Black Ships", in Japan, would later come to symbolize a threat imposed by Western technology. Perry returned in February 1854 with twice as many ships, finding that the delegates had prepared a treaty embodying virtually all the demands in Fillmore's letter. Perry signed the Convention of Kanagawa on March 31, 1854 and departed, mistakenly believing the agreement had been made with imperial representatives. The agreement was made with the Shogun, the de facto ruler of Japan. On his way to Japan, Perry anchored off Keelung in Formosa (modern day Taiwan), for ten days. Perry and crew members landed on Formosa and investigated the potential of mining the coal deposits in that area. He emphasized in his reports that Formosa provided a convenient mid-way trade location. Formosa was also very defensible. It could serve as a base for exploration as Cuba had done for the Spanish in the Americas. Occupying Formosa could help the US to counter European monopolization of the major trade routes. President Franklin Pierce declined the suggestion, remarking such a remote possession would be an unnecessary drain of resources and that he would be unlikely to receive the consent of Congress. When Perry returned to the United States in 1855, Congress voted to grant him a reward of $20,000 in appreciation of his work in Japan. Perry used part of this money to prepare and publish a report on the expedition in three volumes, titled Narrative of the Expedition of an American Squadron to the China Seas and Japan. He was also advanced to the grade of rear-admiral on the retired list (when his health began to fail) as a reward for his services in the Far East.

Condition:

Wear and fading to cloth, first volume rebacked; large map detached, several others with stub tears and splitting to folds; light foxing else good to very good.


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