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Sale 38 Lot 1147

COMMODORE MATTHEW C. PERRY'S SEXTANT A crucial relic of the distinguished naval service of Commodore Matthew C. Perry, his personal sextant, very likely used by him on his historic voyages to Japan in 1853 and 1854. The sextant was manufactured by Norie & Wilson, London, a firm that was established through merger in 1850. The sextant still bears its original black lacquer and ribbed ebony handle, and all fittings appear to be in good working order. The sextant is also accompanied by its telescopic tube, two lenses and a pin, all set into a custom fitted box which was refurbished or refitted by the respected New York firm of Negus Nautical Instruments, ca. 1930. This historic relic has descended directly down through Perry's family until offered at a Baltimore auction earlier this year. The sextant is accompanied by a letter of provenance from a Baltimore attorney who consigned the sextant (and other items) to that auction. The attorney is the son of the second wife of Oliver Hazard Perry, a direct descendant of the commodore. The letter reads, in part: "...Mr. Perry was born on March 5, 1915 in Rhode Island and was a direct descendant of Oliver Hazard Perry of the 1813 Battle of Lake Erie...[he] died in Pompano Beach, Florida in 1986. Mr. Perry left these items to my mother, Louise Colie Perry, to whom he was married at the time of his death...She was first married to my father...That marriage ended in divorce. Mr. Perry and my mother were married on June 14, 1975 in Baltimore, Maryland...Mr. Perry left these items to my mother who eventually gave the items to me. Mr. Perry said that all these items came down through generations of his family and that all the items were at one time owned by either the Oliver Hazard Perry of Lake Erie fame or that man's brother, Matthew Perry...". We have also undertaken efforts to confirm the provenance of this item, and are convinced of the veracity of the letters of provenance. Perry was directly descended five generations from Commodore Perry, borne out by census and genealogical data, and the Baltimore City Clerk's Office has confirmed that Louise Woods and Oliver Perry were indeed married June 14, 1975. Indeed, the sextant's box still bears steamship labels indicating that it was the property of "Oliver Perry"! MATTHEW C. PERRY (1794-1858) Commodore of the Navy who compelled the opening of Japan to the West with the Convention of Kanagawa in 1854. Perry arrived at port near Tokyo Bay on July 8, 1853 and was met by representatives of the Tokugawa Shogunate who told him to proceed to Nagasaki, where there was limited trade with the Netherlands and which was the only Japanese port open to foreigners at that time. Perry refused to leave and demanded permission to present a letter from President Millard Fillmore, threatening force if he was denied. The Japanese military forces could not resist Perry's modern weaponry; the "Black Ships" would then become, in Japan, a threatening symbol of Western technology. He promised to return, and did so in 1854 with twice as many ships, finding that the delegates had prepared a treaty embodying virtually all the demands in Fillmore's letter. The pact treaty opened the Japanese ports of Shimoda and Hakodate to American trade, guaranteed the safety of shipwrecked U.S. sailors and established a permanent consul, effectively ending 300 years of Japanese seclusion. Perry was also called "The Father of the Steam Navy", organized America's first corps of naval engineers, and conducted the first U.S. naval gunnery school. Conceivably one of the most important naval relics ever offered.
Estimate $ 10,000-15,000

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