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An Imperial Japanese Presentation Silver Cigarette Case, 1937
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An Imperial Japanese Presentation Silver Cigarette Case, 1937

Measurements: Overall: 8.5cm(3.25in) x 8.5cm (3.25in)



Silver with gilt interior, the convex hinged lid engraved with the Imperial Japanese Chrysanthemum. Contained in the original presentation case of Miyamoto Shoko, Tokyo.

Provenance: Harry Clifford Greenfield, M.B.E.

The present cigarette case was presented to Harry Greenfield, Stationmaster at Waterloo, as a mark of approbation for the manner in which Prince Chichibu was received at the London terminus on the morning 14 April 1937. Prince Chichibu, who was to represent the Emperor Hirohito at the coronation of George VI in May, arrived at Southampton the previous day and having spent the night aboard the Japanese liner Heian Maru at Southampton proceeded to Waterloo in a coaches added to the regular boat train. A contemporary newspaper reported a formal occasion complete with ‘top hats, morning clothes and rolled umbrellas.’ ‘... Care was taken that there should be no hitch. An arrow had been white washed in the platform edge to indicate where the Royal coach should halt and an inspector was stationed beside it with with a red flag.’ In 1938 Mr Greenfield was further made a Member of the Most Excellent Order of British Empire for services in connection with overseas visitors (London Gazette, 9.6.1938).

Prince Chichibu Yasuhito (1902-1953) was the second son of Emperor Taishō, a younger brother of the Emperor Hirohito. From January 1927 until the birth of his nephew in December 1933, Chichibu was heir presumptive to the Chrysanthemum Throne. Together with his English speaking wife, Princess Setsuko, he attempted to foster good relations between Japan and the United Kingdom in the 1920s and 30s. A keen sportsman, he studied at Oxford before the First World War, and enjoyed a good rapport with the British Royal Family. As with other Japanese imperial princes of his generation, he was a regular officer in the Imperial Japanese Army during the Second World War. Like all members of the imperial family, he was exonerated from war crimes prosecutions before the Tokyo tribunal by Douglas MacArthur.

The goldsmiths and silvermiths Miyamoto Shoko was established in 1880 by Masaru Miyamoto. After a move to Tokyo’s Ginza district in 1899, the company became the preferred supplier of presentations items to the Imperial House of Japan, Imperial Household Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other government agencies.