A Summer in Japan

~~ A Summer in Japan ~~
Series of 26 Stereoviews, 1877
William H. Metcalf, Photographer

"English Hospital Grounds - Yokohama" - "No. 361."

Bennett, H. H. (publisher)
Metcalf, William H. (photographer):
A Summer in Japan, Kilbourn City, Wisconsin, Stereoviews published for sale by H. H. Bennett, made from photographs by William H. Metcalf, Summer of 1877, 26 different stereoviews on yellow mounts, 8 x 7.4 cm - each image, 8.9 x 17.8 cm - mount, letterpress numbers and titles, monochrome/sepia images. At the left of the images it reads: "Published and for Sale by H.H. Bennett, Kilbourn City, Wisconsin." To the right of the images it reads: "A Summer in Japan, Negatives by W.H.M." Below the right image is a caption with a descriptive title and number. The photographer (W.H.M.) was William Hamilton Metcalf. These Metcalf views represent early photographic images of Japan (stereograph or otherwise) published in the United States.

The photographic images reproduced on these steroviews were taken by Metcalf during a four month visit to Japan in the summer of 1877. Metcalf accompanied the famous American zoologist and orientalist, Edward Sylvester Morse on this visit. An excellent discussion of this trip and the resulting images that were published can be found here. In this article titled "Japan Day by Day? William Henry Metcalf, Edward Sylvester Morse and Early Tourist Photography in Japan", Luke Gartlan discusses this trip in detail. The trip was recorded by Morse in his two volume work titled Japan Day by Day, 1877, 1878-79, 1882-83 which was published in 1917 (Vol 1 and Vol 2).

In The Stereoviews of H.H. Bennett (see Note 1, below), T.K. Treadwell notes that H.H. Bennett produced "some 1067 different images" and concludes that there were 27 different images in the Summer in Japan series (326//365). However, the Japan stereoviews Treadwell lists total 32, not 27. Treadwell also notes "Only a few other stereoviews...can be attributed to him (Metcalf)... and they can be identified only by his blindstamp...."

While the images are the same, I have found the stereoviews with two different type captions at the bottom right. One type has the card number (no "No." however) followed immediately by the title. I call this Type A. The other type has the title with the card number (including "No.") at the far right. I call this Type B.

Often this series of stereoviews is associated with the date of 1873 but that date is too early. Metcalf took the photographic images of Japan on a trip to Japan with Edward Sylvester Morse in the summer of 1877. They arrived in Yokohama on June 18, 1877 for a 3~4 month stay in Japan. A paper by Luke Gartlan, School of Art History, University of St. Andrews, UK, discusses in detail the Metcalf/Morse trip to Japan and the significance of Metcalf's work to photography in Japan. It can be found here. Morse recorded this trip in a two volume work which was published in 1917 and titled, Japan Day by Day. Information on that book set is here.

While rating scarcity is a subjective evaluation, these views are definitely harder to find than the numerous Japan related stereoviews which began to proliferate at the end of the 19th century and into the beginning of the 20th century. There is recent comment on this series in Stereo View, an Illustrated History & Price Guide, 2002, 2nd edition, by John Waldsmith. Waldsmith notes the "Summer in Japan" series by Bennett characterizing it as "...a scarce series...." (page 33). While he notes other H.H. Bennett stereoview series, he does not characterize them in this regard.

William H. Metcalf (1838-1925) was a wealthy Milwaukee art collector and a partner in a prosperous shoe manufacturing company (Bradley & Metcalf Company). While he was not a professional photographer, he was an avid amateur photographer and very active in the Wisconsin area. He had a long standing and very close association with H.H. Bennett (personal friend, customer/patron, promoter and financial backer) and learned photographic skills from Bennett. He sometimes accompanied Bennett on his photographic expeditions. Metcalf provided Bennett with the financial support to build his studio which was completed in 1875. In addition to the "Summer in Japan" series, a very few stereoviews have been confirmed with images from photographs taken by Metcalf.

William H. Metcalf

Metcalf at Black Hawk's Port Hole in the Dells
Pictured in an H.H. Bennett Stereoview (see Notes 3 & 4, below).

Metcalf's Pictures Featured on H.H. Bennett "Summer in Japan" Stereoviews:

  1. No. 326. "Japanese Bed Chamber"
  2. No. 327. "The Kago, Traveling Conveyance"
  3. No. 328. "Pagoda"
  4. No. 329 Type A & No. 329 Type B. "Approach To Temple" (Available for purchase, click here)
  5. No. 330. "Temple"
  6. No. 331. "[No title - bridge interior]. Japan per Treadwell but see Note 2, below, where listed as not Japan.
  7. No. 332 Type B. "Gate of the Great Temple - Nikko" (Available for purchase, click here)
  8. No. 333 Type A & No. 333 Type B. "Temple Grounds - Dai-Nichi-Do" (Available for purchase, click here)
  9. No. 334 Type A. "Temple Grounds - Dia(sic)-Nichi-Do" (Available for purchase, click here)
  10. No. 335 Type B. "Hachi Ischi"
  11. No. 336 (*/** below)
  12. No. 337 Type A, & No. 337 Type B and Metcalf Green Mount. "Approach to Temple" - Confirmed on green mount with "W.H. Metcalf" blindstamp below right photo. (Available for purchase (Type A), click here)
  13. No. 338. "Temple Grounds - Dai-Nichi-do"
  14. No. 339. "Approach to Temple"
  15. No. 340. "Among the Nikko Mountains"
  16. No. 341. "Temple Lantern"
  17. No. 342 Type A. "Tea House Court Yard"
  18. No. 343. "Among the Nikko Mountains" (* below)
    No. 344 (** below)
    No. 345. "Street in Hakone village" (* below)
  19. No. 346 Type A & No. 346 Type B. "Bronze Image of Buddha at Kammakura"
  20. No. 347. "Tea House, Kamakura" (* below)
  21. No. 348 Type B. "Village of Kiga"
  22. No. 349 (** below)
    No. 350 (** below)
  23. No. 351 Type A. "Hakone - Mountain village"
  24. No. 352. "Temple at Enoshima"
  25. No. 353 Type A. "Village of Enoshima"
  26. No. 354 Type A. "Near Odowarra"
  27. No. 355 (** below)
    No. 356 (** below)
    No. 357 (** below)
    No. 358 (** below)
  28. No. 359. "Fisherman's Cottage"
  29. No. 360 Type A. "Rice Fields - newly planted" - Man in the rickshaw believed to be Metcalf. (Available for purchase, click here)
    No. 360 Type A Variety. "Rice Fields - newly plantep" with the "d" in "planted" upside down reading as a "p."
  30. No. 361 Type A & No. 361 Type B. "English Hospital Grounds - Yokohama"
    (Available for purchase (Type A), click here)
  31. No. 362. "Yokohama English church" (* below)
  32. No. 363. "Honcho-Dori - Yokohama"
  33. No. 364. "Homes of field laborers near Yokohama" (* below)
  34. No. 365. "Bird's-eye View of Yokohama"

* Six numbers are questionable (336, 343, 345, 347, 362 & 364) as to whether they actually are Japan views published by Bennett. All six of these numbers are listed in the 1977 reprint of the 1883 Bennett catalogue as "negative missing." Metcalf apparently printed a series of Japan scene stereoviews on green mounts with handwritten captions. It is believed that some of these may have been in that private series.

** Eight numbers are not accounted for in the above listing and are presumed to not be Japan views. Comments below are per the Treadwell listing, Note 1, below:

  1. 336 ("unknown")
  2. 344 (Minnesota view)
  3. 349 (Wisconsin Dells view)
  4. 350 (Wisconsin Dells view)
  5. 355 (Shiloh view)
  6. 356 ("unknown")
  7. 357 (Shiloh view)
  8. 358 (Wisconsin Dells view)

For a detailed illustrated discussion of this series of stereoviews by Bob Sandow, click here and here.

Note 1 - Treadwell Listing of H.H. Bennett Stereoviews. A comprehensive listing of H.H. Bennett stereoviews exists. T.K. Treadwell, The Stereoviews of H.H. Bennett, the Institute for Photographic Research View List Series 36, Fourth Edition, November 2003. The views in the Summer in Japan series are included in this listing.

Note 2 - 1977 Listing of H.H. Bennett Stereoviews. In 1977 the H.H. Bennett Studio published a Complete Stereograph List of H.H. Bennett. The listing is based upon a stereograph catalogue published in 1883. As it relates to the "Summer in Japan" series, the listing is basically the same as the Treadwell listing (Note 1, above). However, there are a couple of differences. Stereoview 331 is attributed to a none Japan series and it is listed as "N331....Bridge Interior title?" This is strong evidence that 331, at least with this title, is not a part of this series. The listing also contains 2 listings for 340. One is the Japan view and the other is a Wisconsin view. In an insert with the catalogue H.H. Bennett offered many of his stereoviews for sale in mint condition. The following Japan views were offered in the $5~$7 range by H.H. Bennett in 1977: 326, 327, 329, 332, 333, 334, 335, 337, 338, 339, 342, 346, 348, 351, 353, 354, 360, 361 and 365. In 1994 a Bennett price list offered 329, 332, 333, 334, 337, 342, 344, 346, 351, 353, 354, 360, and 361 in the $6.00~$8.00 price range. I do not believe that these stereographs are currently available from the Bennett Studio Foundation. It appears that H.H. Bennett enterprise is now under the purview of a state historical society.

Note 3 - Regarding the Metcalf Image. The man in this picture is identified as William H. Metcalf in an article titled "A Compelling Vision, H.H. Bennett and the Wisconsin Dells" by Jim Temmer published in the Summer of 2002 issue of The Wisconsin Magazine of History. In the article the image in this stereoview is titled "The Hermit of Diamond Grotto, William H. Metcalf...poses at Black Hawk's Port Hole in the Wisconsin Dells."

( http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/wmh/pdf/wmh_summer02_temmer.pdf )
View as an HTML Document (pictures probably will not show).

Note 4 - Stereo World, November/December 1991, Volume 18, Number 5, contains an article titled "H.H. Bennett of Wisconsin" at pages 4-17. The article has a section on the relationship between Bennett and Metcalf and specifically mentions the "A Summer in Japan" stereoview series of 26 views by Metcalf. The article pictures "Bennett No. 1101 Black Hawk's Port Hole" noting that "Posing behind the hole is Bennett's friend and associate William Metcalf." (figure 7 at page 8). The article notes that the same image was also "...issued in standard size stereo format as No. 70." (at page 8). According to the article, Metcalf used a camera constructed for him by Bennett while in Japan. Perhaps this article is the genesis for describing this as a series of 26 views.


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