Item 133 is an extremely rare pair of lithographs portraying America's first diplomatic mission to Japan. It was not that of Matthew Perry. That would come seven years later. It is the forgotten mission of James Biddle in 1846, forgotten because it did not achieve its aims. Biddle sailed for China to exchange the official documents for America's first treaty with China. He then moved on to Japan, where no treaties had been negotiated. Instead of heading for the open port of Nagasaki, he headed straight for Yeddo (today's Tokyo), where he hoped to negotiate directly with those in power. The Japanese were not impressed. Other than trade with the Dutch, Japan was closed. The Japanese refused to allow Biddle to land, but did agree to meet with him on board one of their ships. In an incident, unclear whether it was deliberate, Biddle was knocked over while boarding, though the Japanese apologized profusely for the sailor's actions. Despite Biddle's entreaties, the Japanese would not budge, and ultimately all Biddle received was a free tow for his ships back out to open waters. While Biddle's mission was not successful, it provided the necessary lesson for Commodore Perry's mission seven years later. Perry would bring his warships and force the Japanese to agree to trade, learning from Biddle that friendly persuasion was not enough. These very rare prints (Reese has only been able to locate two other sets) were produced by artist S.F. Rosser, based on sketches by John Eastley, probably one of Biddle's crew. As they are dedicated to Biddle, who after returning to America assisted in the Mexican War before making it back to Philadelphia in 1848, only to die later that year, 1848 appears to be the date they were published. The lithographs show Biddle's ships at anchor in Tokyo Bay, surrounded by smaller Japanese boats, and being towed out of the bay. $75,000.
It probably never occurred to Biddle at the time that he was staring into the faces of one of the lost tribes of Israel. Nicholas McLeod's Illustrations to the Epitome of the Ancient History of Japan, including Illustrations to the Guide Book, was not available to him. Natives of lands far from Europe, particularly the Americas, were often ascribed to the “lost tribes” by Europeans. McLeod provided illustrations of “Jewish Type” Japanese people, and determined certain archeological relics were from the Jews or Israel. While ancestors of the Japanese may have crossed that way on their journey out of Africa, it would have been long before there were any tribes of Israelites to be found. Item 110. $2,000.