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Antique Ephemera and Map: Souvenir of Our Famous Cruise Around the World, 1906-09

1909 Souvenir of Our Famous Cruise Around the World

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By: George Washington Co.

Date: 1906-09 (printed) Yokohama, Japan

Dimensions: 27.75 x 25.75 inches (65.5 x 65.5 cm)

This is a scarce souvenir handkerchief sewn into a paper border with original paper backing, made to commemorate the circumnavigation of the world by the Great White Fleet of the United States Navy, under the order of President Theodore Roosevelt. 

The "Great White Fleet" was the nickname given to the brand new U.S. Naval Fleet consisting of 16 battleships divided into two squadrons, of which all of the ships hulls were painted white. Upon completion of their production, the entire fleet was dispatched for a cruise around the world. This was done in an effort to demonstrate to the world, the military power of the United States, specifically their "blue-water" capabilities.

The handkerchief includes an interesting world map with Seattle depicted in Canada, Australia turned slightly clockwise and Africa shown much closer to its true size. Each of the 16 battleships is depicted with a life preserver with their name provided. A portrait of Theodore Roosevelt crowns the work with additional portraits of Admiral Robley Dungliston Evans (right) who was in command from Hampton Roads to San Francisco and Admiral Charles Sperry (left) who took over command after Evans fell ill and could not continue with the voyage on its crossing of the Pacific Ocean. The United States Crest with an eagle and anchor appears at the bottom and the stars and striped of the United States flag surrounds the map. 

Route of the Great White Fleet Circumnavigation

The fleet casted off from Hampton Roads on December 16, 1907 and completed its first leg of the journey, arriving in San Francisco on May 6, 1908 by way of Trinidad, British West Indies, Rio de Janeiro, Punta Arenas, Chile; Callao, Peru; and Magdalena Bay, Mexico. The fleet continued their journey on July, 8, 1908 bound for Honolulu; Auckland, New Zealand; Sydney, Melbourne, and Albany, Australia; Manila, Philippines; Yokohama, Japan; and Colombo, Ceylon; eventually arriving at the Suez Canal in Egypt, on January 3, 1909. Soon after arriving in Egypt, an earthquake stuck Sicily and part of the fleet was immediately dispatched to provide aide. They eventually reconvened in Naples, Italy before stopping in Gibraltar and crossing the Atlantic, back to Hampton Roads.  

The handkerchief was produced by George Washington Co. out of Yokohama, Japan. The company was established in 1880 and specialized in images printed on silk. Over the years, these items became popular among sailors of the United States Navy. This appears to be an uncommon example of the handkerchief as it only presents three portraits. Most other examples that have appeared on the market feature six portraits.

Condition: This map / handkerchief is in A condition. It has been pressed so that it lays flat and none of the creases distract from the image. It also remains in its original paper border, stitched along the edges and protecting the verso.

Inventory #11987

 1200 W. 35th Street #425 Chicago, IL 60609 | P: (312) 496 - 3622

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