Japan and Around the World, 1855

by J.W. Spalding

Spalding, J.W.:
The Japan Expedition. Japan and Around the World. An Account of Three Visits to the Japanese Empire with Sketches of Madeira, St. Helena, Cape of Good Hope, Mauritius, Ceylon, Singapore, China, and Loo-Choo, Redfield, New York, 1855, 12mo (5 x 7 1/2 in - 13 x 19 cm), blue cloth with gilt lettering on the spine, frontispiece and 7 illustrations (all tinted lithographs), 2 pages of publisher's advertisements, 377 pp.

The author served on board the U.S. Steam-Frigate "Mississippi" which was Commodore Perry's flag ship during many phases of the expedition to Japan. This account is unusual in two aspects. First, it was published before the official Government Narrative which was first published in 1856. Second, it was a private journal and keeping of such journals and accounts of the expedition was specifically forbidden by Commodore Perry. I suspect that the author left the Navy before he published this book.

This book is important because it traces the expedition through the eyes of private observer rather than present an official version of events. For example, there was a sailor who died on Okinawa. While the official Narrative hints he may have been killed in anger by Okinawans for the rape of a young girl, the official US position (spin) was that he drown when he fell into the sea in a drunken state while being pursued by enraged Okinawans throwing stones at him. In this book, Spalding comes right out and states:

An investigation of the matter showed that the man had not only been killed by the natives but that he deserved to have been killed. (pp 334-5)

The book contains extensive sections on Okinawa (Loo Choo). In addition to the day to day activities of the expedition on the island, Spalding deals with such topics as the political history of the country, characterics of the people and geography, tattooing of the hands of women, Dr. Bernard Bettelheim and his work and relationship with the Okinawans, the horse-shoe shaped tombs, and the foreign cemetery in Tumari. Spalding notes that the first American flag actually flew over a building in Tumari on February 5, 1854. This was a coal shed which had been procured by the American forces. When the expedition departed for Japan, an Acting Master's Mate and a "number of invalid seamen" were left behind to protect that facility (at page 209).

The book contains eight (8) full page illustrations. The title page describes them as "Eight illustrations in tint." Tissue guards protect all eight plates. While much smaller in size, the illustrations are very much like the lithographs in the original Narrative. They are tinted with one color giving them a black, white and faint yellow color scheme. The page size of the illustrations is 11.7 x 18.2 cm (4 3/4 x 7 1/4 in). The illustrations are framed in a box and that generally measures 9.2 x 14.5 cm. Below are the illustrations in the book (illustrations shown are from an 1859 edition but believed to be identical in all respects to the 1855 printing):

Title Page


  1. Japanese - a Japanese man and woman with Mt. Fuji in the background.
    Frontispiece of the book. Lith. of Sarony & Co., New York.

  2. Cape of Good Hope - a scene from the scene showing the ships
    (including the Mississippi) with Table Mountain in the background.
    After page 46. Lith. of Sarony & Co., New York.

  3. Ceylon - a scene showing a house and a lady.
    After page 64. Lith. of Sarony & Co., New York.

  4. Loo Choo - a scene showing two elders and a young man
    by a house on a hill overlooking the sea.
    After page 112. Lith. of Sarony & Co., New York.

  5. China - a scene showing a large Chinese junk.
    After page 186. Lith. of Sarony & Co., New York.

  6. Near Yedo - a house and tree lined street.
    After page 258. Lith. of Sarony & Co., New York.

  7. Foogee Yama - Mount Fuji in the background and a lake and boats

  8. Dezima - View of a seaport with an American ship in the harbor.
    After page 316. Lith. of Sarony & Co., New York.

I have seen descriptions of the book where the plates are described as black and white illustrations and other descriptions calling them illustrations in tint. These plates are tinted lithographs along the same line as those found in Narrative of the Japan Expedition, only much smaller. The same company, Lith. of Sarony & Co., New York, produced many of the lithographs found in the Narrative.


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