Lot 268: 1860-Dated. First Japanese Embassy Medal. U.S. Mint. Bronzed. Julian CM-23. Gem
Historic Autographs, Civil War Encased Postage Stamps, Colonial, Revolutionary War, Federal Era, Coins, Currency, Medals
December 10, 2016
Rancho Santa Fe, CA, USALive Auction
1860 US Mint First Japanese Embassy Medal Julian CM-23
1860-Dated. First Japanese Embassy Medal. Original Dies Struck at the United States Mint. Bronzed Copper. Julian CM-23. Gem Mint State.
76 mm. Julian CM-23. This is the original c. 1861 strike, as the original die by Ellis broke and was replaced by a new obverse designed by Paquet. A central high relief bust of President James Buchanan, with surrounding text, JAMES BUCHANAN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES. Paquet's name below the shoulder. Reverse has a floral wreath surrounding the text, "In Commemoration of the First Embassy from Japan to the United States 1860." American shield with ribbon at bottom. Gorgeous semi-prooflike hard surfaces with a couple of trivial specs boasting defect free high rims and central relief Bust.
The first Japanese Embassy to the West opened in the U.S. in 1860, just months before the outbreak of the Civil War. On February 13, 1860, the military ruler of Japan, the Shogun, sent delegates clad in traditional native gowns, to present their credentials to "his Majesty, the President of the United States," to formally open relations. The ambassadors and their staff sailed from Yokohama with 50 tons of Japanese baggage, 100,000 readily negotiable Mexican dollars, and a large supply of Japanese food.
The vessel that carried them from Japan to San Francisco, their first port-of-call, was the navy frigate Powhatan, one of the steam-powered paddle-wheelers Perry had employed in "opening" Japan. The ceremony that followed at the White House inspired massive displays of patriotism and hospitality in America's major cities. This was a momentous event that propelled the Nippon State from total isolation to eventual global power.