New York: Eliphalet M. Brown Jr., 1855-1856. Six lithographs, with integral descriptions and titles to the six plates, all within an elaborate decorative border including vignettte scenes and portraits of places and people encountered on the expedition, six lithographic plates, printed in colors and finished by hand, by J. Sarony & Co. (4), Boell & Lewis (1), and Boell & Michelin (1), all after Heine. Elephant folio. Individually matted and framed. One print with repaired closed tears, slightly affecting image. Occasional faint marginal foxing and dust soiling. Very good. Item #WRCAM54032
Magnificent and very rare example of Heine's elephant folio-sized lithographic record of Perry in Japan. In scale, scope, and quality of execution, this is arguably the finest lithographic work ever produced in the United States, and is the rarest of all American color plate books. William Heine was the official artist on Commodore Matthew C. Perry's expedition to Japan in 1853-54. On returning to the United States he produced several series of prints commemorating the trip, the first, the greatest and the rarest of which is the present group consisting of a title and six plates. These were overseen by the expedition's daguerreotypist Eliphalet Brown, who was also an excellent artist and lithographer - he designed and drew the spectacular title page. The total number of sets of printed is not known, but, it is recorded that Brown gave 100 sets to Commodore Perry for distribution to members of the expedition. The number of sets sold to the public has not been established, but was undoubtedly small. One of the reasons for the rarity of the complete set is that the plates were printed over two years by three publishers. Individual prints are occasionally encountered, particularly the four printed in 1855 by Sarony of New York, but the two other plates are much scarcer and were accomplished by different lithographers, Boell & Lewis and Boell & Michelin. A secondary reason for the rarity of this set is the initial cost. It was significantly more expensive than Heine's GRAPHIC SCENES OF THE JAPAN EXPEDITION (a much smaller folio published in the same year as the final plate): the popularity of this smaller set ensured that only very few of the magnificent larger sets were ever sold. The set consists of the following prints: 1) "Passing the Rubicon. Lieut. S. Bent in the 'Mississippi's' First Cutter Forcing his way through a Fleet of Japanese Boats while Surveying the Bay of Yedo, Japan, July 11th, 1853...." Printed by Sarony & Co, dated 1855. 2) "First Landing of Americans in Japan. Under Commodore M.C. Perry at Gore-Hama July 14th, 1853...." Printed by Sarony & Co, dated 1855. This print is the most dramatic of the series, showing the first landing of Perry on Japanese soil. Through a flotilla of American landing barges, with the ships' complement of Marines drawn up on the beach, Perry proceeds to meet a Japanese delegation, while Japanese troops ring in the Americans. In the foreground are two Japanese official launches, and two Japanese officials stand in the right foreground. Perry's steamboats can be seen lying under steam in the left corner. 3) "Landing of Commodore Perry, Officers & Men of the Squadron, to Meet the Imperial Commissioners at Yoku-Hama, Japan, March 8th, 1854...." Printed by Sarony & Co, dated 1855. 4) "Landing of Commodore Perry, Officers & Men of the Squadron, to Meet the Imperial Commissioners, at Simoda, Japan, June 8, 1854...." Printed by Sarony & Co, dated 1855. 5)"Return of Commodore Perry, Officers & Men of the Squadron from an Official Visit to the Prince Regent at Shui, Capitol of Lew Chew, June 6th 1853...." Printed by Boell & Lewis, dated 1855. 6) "Exercise of Troops in Temple Grounds Simoda Japan, in Presence of the Imperial Commissioners June 8th 1854...." Printed by Boell & Michelin, dated 1856. This set of the Heine prints belonged to Major Robert Smith John Rodgers, son of the Commodore John Rodgers of War of 1812 fame, and hung in his fine mansion of a hilltop outside of Havre de Grace. PETERS, AMERICA ON STONE, pp. 98, 352-53.