Long live the Emperor!
I have always found it fascinating why a particular brand of gramophone needles came about. Whilst some are obvious, others are more whimsical and many record significant events and achievements of the day. In this way they often provide an interesting reflection of social history. This is the first 'feature tin' post in our blog and we hope to bring you more over time as we find tins with interesting subjects.
This SHOGUN tin is particularly interesting. Being quite rare suggests it was only every made in very limited quanties and that raises the question of, why?
We think the clue to discovering the answer lies in the uniform you can see. It appears to be very similar to that in the photograph below which is of Japan's Emperor Meiji, taken in 1873. As the 122nd Emperor of Japan, he ruled from 1867 until his death in 1912 and was known as 'Meiji the Great'. During that time he presided over Japan as it quickly changed from a feudal state to a capitalist and imperial world power.
You can see that the hat, the epaulettes and the style of tunic decoration is very similar to that depicted on the needle tin. The military uniforms of this period were similar in style to the western uniforms of the French and British. The raised hat allowed the Emporer to retain his traditional top knot hair style. These uniforms changed significantly after the Meiji period ended and are not at all similar to this one.
The word Shogun literally means 'military ruler' and is not actulally synonymous with 'emporer'. However, the Meiji Restoration, as the transformation of the country came to be known, saw the shift of military and political power transferred from the ruling Shoguns to the Emporer as the ultimate ruler.
So we would like to proffer that this was perhaps issued as some sort of commemorative tin around the time of the death of 'The Great Meiji' in 1912. That would have certainly been an event in history worthy of such an acknowledgement in this way. To further support this, the gallery below shows you two more tins which are from the same era. They are the same pressed shape with a raised rim on the lid which is also slightly convex in shape. As you can see there are plenty of similarities in the color and artwork. The Napoleon tins are quite common whilst the Nelson is not, so perhaps the SHOGUN tin was a limited run by one of the larger makers. At the end of the day I will leave it with you to be the judge.