The photographs (each approximately 190 × 240 mm or the reverse) are mounted on the rectos only of thick leaves in matching volumes bound in half morocco and dark green stippled cloth (external dimensions 345 × 460 mm). The albums are lettered in gilt on the front covers, respectively, 'Voyage autour du Monde. Japon. Le Tokaiado, Yokohama, Tokio' (54 plates), and 'Voyage autour du Monde. Japon. Nikko & Le Nord' (56 plates). Below each title is the gilt monogram 'HI', presumably the (as-yet) unidentified traveller who collected the photographs and commissioned these deluxe productions.
The Italian adventurer Adolfo Farsari (1841-1898) 'owned the last important Western photography studio in Japan. Born in Italy, he immigrated [sic] to the United States in 1863 where he married, served in the Union army, and became an American citizen. Following the death of his second son, he left home and spent the next five years traveling before moving to Japan in 1873. In Yokohama, he established a business, A. Farsari & Co., selling maps, guidebooks, and photographs supplied by various studios. Farsari taught himself photography and opened his own studio in 1885 when he acquired the stock and negatives of Stillfried & Anderson. In 1886, a fire destroyed all of his negatives, and for five months afterward, he toured Japan taking new photographs to replace them. He reopened his studio in 1887 with a portfolio of around 1,000 images. Over the next three years, in an increasingly competitive market, he achieved commercial success by offering quality work at a higher price and using an innovative approach to hand coloring his photographs. In 1890, he left Japan and returned to Italy' (Harvard College Library Collections Overview). The prints in these handsome albums (all with a title and alpha-numeric code in a bottom corner of the negative, identifying them as Farsari photographs) unquestionably match this description. The albums are a little rubbed at the extremities, with minor wear to the corner tips; the contents are in very fine condition.