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Commodore Perry and the Opening of Japan. Naval Diplomat and Collector – an online exhibition to accompany a display in the Glaisher Gallery, 1 April-5 July 2009.

Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry, an American naval officer who famously opened up Japan to the West in 1854, and an outstanding example of an early American coin collector.

A Japanese woodblock portrait of Perry
(A Japanese woodblock portrait of Perry. Image from the Library of Congress.)
A Japanese coin from the Perry Collection (obverse)

Commodore Perry led an extremely significant diplomatic mission to Japan in 1852-4, opening up the previously reclusive and autarkic country to American trade. He was also an avid coin collector, acquiring a wide variety of Greek, Roman, medieval, Islamic, American and modern World pieces.

A Roman coin from the Perry Collection (obverse)

A number of Perry's coins can be associated with his famous trip to the Far East in the early 1850s. The Perry Collection therefore provides a tangible link with this important event in Japanese and American history, as well as a valuable insight into the scope and techniques of early American coin collecting.



The Fitzwilliam Museum has been lent a substantial element of the Perry Collection by a private collector. An exhibition about Commodore Perry, his trip to Japan and his collection is on display in the Fitzwilliam Museum's Glaisher Gallery, 1 April-5 July 2009.


The links below or in the menu to the left will take you to pages where you can find out more.

Commodore Perry

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Perry and the Trip to Japan

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Perry the Collector

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Perry Collection Database

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