A Fine Japanese Naval Silkwork for the American Market,
Geo. Washington Co. Benten-dori, Yokohama.
The silkwork picture of unusual quality and size is accompanied by the enlistment record and a page from the original sales literature. The silkwork was made by the Geo Washington Company in Japan. It was one of a number of model available to the American sailors who were part of the Great White Fleet. The silkwork was purchased by Warren Anderson of Philadelphia of the U.S.S. Virginia.
The original description in the Geo. Washinghton Catalogue reads:
A specially designed souvenir of the "Famous Battleship Fleet
"In memory of our famous cruise around the World"
Embroidered with Silk and pure Gold Thread on the best quality Satin The faces show clearly with the photographed upon silk satin. The Picture of the Fleet is painted on silk in Water Colour.
Space for cabinet size photo in the buoy.
Size.......26" x 48"
Price.........$10 (U.S. Currency)
GEO. WASHINGTON Co., Benten-dori, Yokohama.
From December 1907 to February 1909, 16 battleships and 14,000 men of the US Navy steamed around the world on a mission of "Gunboat Diplomacy." The ships, commonly known as the "Great White Fleet" because of their white-painted hulls, called in ports the world over, impressing foreign dignitaries with the appearance of great power
The entire affair was designed to impress, and everything was done to make sure the fleet's appearance was perfect.
The ships, however, were not all they appeared to be. HMS Dreadnought had been in commission for a year, effectively rendering all the US ships obsolete. Two of the ships had such severe mechanical problems that they could not complete the cruise, and two more were obsolete and unfit for battle. It was a great show, but the military value of the fleet was questionable.
This was the last hurrah for the age of white ships, buff masts and high diplomacy on the high seas. As soon as the ships returned from the cruise they were stripped of their fancywork and much of their bridgework, painted gray, and had their pole masts replaced by functional but unsightly cage masts. The buildup towards WWI had begun.