ISTANBUL - Japanese Laquer Album with 34 postcards, most printed in colours. Japan, c. 1910.
4to. Black lacquer boards with onlaid of mother of pearl, and painted bone, depicting a bird on a tree trunk and flowers, repaired Russia spine, ornamented in gilt, thick wooden mounting boards covered with hand-painted silk, rear endpaper with two painted layers of silk gauze, the postcards mounted without damage with threads across the corners; a few applications missing from binding; a very beautiful and unusual object.
There had been a Japanese traveller in about 1910 in Malta (three postcards at the beginning), Istanbul and surroundings. The postcards were printed in Italy, Turkey and probably France, sometimes with Osmanli captions, and are not the usually encountered German-printed postcards by Max Fruchtermann. Remarkable is the freshness of the colours and the political subjects, such as the Ottoman military, battle ships, Abdul Hamid II, with a little portrait of Enver Bey, one of the leaders of the Young Turk movement, and Niazi Bey, another hero of that movement.
The late 19th and early 20th century saw a wave of Japanophilia in Turkey, as Japan had managed not to become Westernized and both countries shared the same enemy, the Russian Empire. Japanese Pan-Asianism courted the Sublime Porte, with the Meji Emperor sending princes to visit Abdul Hamid II. The liberal Turkish Committee of Union and Progress admired the way Japan steered her way successfully and for defeating the Russian Empire in 1905/06. The presentation of the postcards, and the elaborate album itself, might suggest, the first owner was a high-ranking member of one of these Japanese delegations to the Sultan.