National Geographic's Collectors Corner

Collaborative site for collectors, dealers, & anyone interested in our history.

Looking to pick the brains of those eclectic NGS collectors who have spread their wings into the seldom mentioned (or located) items hiding within the hobby.

The Torii Gate is one such item.

Please share what you know of this pictorial, it’s history, production number(s), date of production, etc.

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This photograph appears in the November 1911 (Vol. XXII, No.11) National Geographic, Page 982.  The color photo is entitled "The Great Torii at Miyajima at High Tide".  (There is also a picture of the Torii Gate at low tide on the next page.)  It is part of an article entitled "Glimpses of Japan", that was written by William W. Chapin.  It is the same photograph as the one you show here, but appears darker in the magazine.

Yours in Collecting,

Tom Wilson

Thanks Tom.  

I was / am aware of that article.  My focus is more on the actual pictorial.  Shades of grey and black. About 11 x 17 overall (frame included).

Not included in the magazine, but, apparently, available for sale to members or provided to select members.  

The one depicted is framed (by the NGS ?), but others possibly unframed.

And here is an image of the page in question:

In his 1982 collector's guide "Collectibles of the National Geographic Society", Roger E. Nathan lists this item on Page 62 under the heading "Nonsupplement Pictorials" as: Torii Gate, Japan* 13 3/4" x 7 3/4" - Color plate, page 982, November 1911.  The asterisks indicated that unframed copies of the pictorial were available for purchase from the Society.

Thanks George.  I have Roger’s book and was aware of the info on Torii that he published.

Edwin Buxbaum also addressed it on page 272 of his 1971 revision, and states that it was, “not issued to members”.

In addition, he mentions that, “The Society has a few of these in its files, measuring 13 x 20-1/2 inches overall”, however, he also cites the size as 8 x 14”.  Confusing.

Last I heard the Society does not have any of these in its files (the supplement sold upon request). Also, some have said there's only 1 or 2 of these known to (still) exist. Others may say and have said, that there's a handful of these around the world, but certain folks keep pretty hush-hush about owning one of these. Apparently, there's at least 1 specific person who is registered here on the 'Corner that has one, or at least did have one in the recent past. 

I know someone personally who was selling one about 1-2 years ago.

I have a copy of the unframed Torii Gate printed on thick paper. Its dimensions are 12-3/4" (width) by 20-1/4" (height). A framed (11" width by 17" height) copy of the Torii Gate was sold by John McInnis Auctioneers on February 6, 2021, for $1,240 including the buyer's premium but not including shipping. Based on the picture shown by the auction house, it is a trimmed down version of the print that I have.



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