Very beautiful grouping and historically speaking, very important and very, very rare.
(Pin NOT included)
This grouping was a gift from a Japanese dignitary from South America, to a German dignitary of the same continent.
It was a gift which was meant as an understanding of present and future spheres of economical and political influence in the largely untapped but unquestionably crucial continent of South America.
The cruise was very private, very secret (with regard to press coverage) and was aboard the 'M.S. LaPlanta Maru' owned by the OSK (Osaka Shosen Kaisha) during March of 1937.
**Grouping includes a framed portrait of Emperor Hirohito and unframed portrait of the Empress and a List of Passengers/ menu from the cruise (dated March 17, 1937).
A Brief History
A very important year with regard to global business and South America's rich natural resources, including raw minerals needed for rearmament, some exclusive to just that continent.
The relations between North America and South America were always somewhat strained, despite them being in the same hemisphere, and after American bankers unloaded their foreign/European stocks to the inexperienced South Americans (which promptly crashed, triggering the 1929 Depression), the South American governments were outraged and turned-off by the distrustful 'yankees'. Their economy on a whole was not able to absorb such a hit.
It was an opportunity for communism to set in any many revolutions were conducted- Stalin didn't just want their business, but the entire continent. This made many in-the-know U.S. citizens, politicians and businessmen nervous.
Britain meanwhile, tried to retain its lion-share of its import-export business, and the Axis ...they tried to keep one step ahead of everyone by offering fair business deals and promises of complete independence of European and US aggression.
This private cruise, therefore, was a diplomatic pledge, of sorts, by the Axis, of these assurances. It was a very important and even vital deal in the grand scheme of things, for every country building its armaments (and everyone was in the 1920-30s)-and in addition, a happy, employed people, needed a raw-material 'supply-house'.
South America was exactly that potential supply house.
Photos are of the very highest quality for that period and probably unsurpassed.
They are 10x12" and the black enamel frame is of typical German manufacturer of that period. (suggesting that both portraits were originally individually housed in a protective envelope with gold seal, and the German diplomat probably had the portrait of Hirohito framed and hung in his office or home, leaving the empress to perhaps his wife to do something with or maybe simply a forgotten household project never finished. It is interesting to observe that the Japanese diplomat's name has been underlined as well, and one wonders, in a whimsical way, if this was done by the German diplomat himself in an attempt to not forget his gift-bearing friend's name, or by his mindful secretary, trained to have an eye for such details, or perhaps even a thoughtful, dedicated wife.
In any even, both portraits are very well preserved and NM-Mint, the 7x10" Passenger list is VF+ as is the pin.
A very uncommon pre-war grouping and of the highest diplomatic corners.
It's sort of a shame such historic geopolitical-business items are not as widely collected or appreciated as say, the average bayonets or canteen of a foot soldier, but such is the market and it is not always driven by supply and demand or scarcity as it is by popularity at times.
Consequently, we have priced this at quite a low, low price, hoping a historian out there somewhere will give it the happy home it deserves.