Lot 784

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HIROHITO (1901 - 1989) Emperor of Japan revered as a god by his people, leader of Japan through World War II who ultimately made the decision to capitulate. A superb relic, a Federal Revival card or occasional table measuring 36" in diameter and 30" tall with folding Sheraton legs, crafted from mahogany veneer with classic Grecian motif inlays at the edges possibly given by Hirohito to Col. GEORGE FABYAN (1867-1936), a wealthy manufacturer who later served Illinois Gov. Richard Yates as a member of the governor's military staff. Fabyan was a military ambassador for Theodore Roosevelt and participated in the negotiations of the Portsmouth Treaty that ended the Russo-Japanese War in 1905, earning him the honorary title of Colonel. During his years as a military diplomat, Fabyan met many world leaders, including Hirohito, during his participation in the ratification of the Portsmouth Treaty. Gifts from such leaders filled his mansion, apparently including the table offered herein. Fabyan had created an estate dubbed "Riverbank" in Geneva, Il. where he installed scientific laboratories and occupied himself in a number of unusual scientific projects, one being the attempt to prove that Sir Francis Bacon was actually the author of Shakespearean plays and that he had left codes in Shakespeare's texts to prove his authorship. This eccentric theory, interestingly, proved very useful in cracking enemy codes during World War I, and the labs at Riverbanks became the center for nearly all military decoding and deciphering of enemy messages when the U.S. entered World War I in 1917. Fabyan married Elizabeth "Nelle" Wright, whose two sisters, Jessie and Leah, also lived near the estate. Leah married prominent U.S. Army general Clement A. Trott (d. 1950), an Army Distinguished Service winner. From 1935-1941, Brigadier General Trott was Commander of the 6th Brigade Army Regulars and participated in the Southwest Pacific theatre. Upon Leah's sister Nelle's death in 1939, she and Jessie were bequeathed items from the Fabyan estate and Nelle's possessions in particular. As the Trotts had no children, and left their estate to their beloved housekeeper of many years who, in turn, sold the table during the disbursement of her estate in the 1970s. The table may come from that sale, as it is accompanied by copy of a letter of provenance from the purchaser. Somewhat vague, it reads in part: "...I met and became close friends with a lady who had been the housekeeper for over 40 years for General and Mrs. Trott...Mrs. Trott and her sister Nelle Fabian [sic] were quite well known socially in Chicago...The Fabian [sic] Estate...is now a landmark property...at least one President of the United States stayed with them. In the thirties, General Trott was assigned the management of the South Asian part of the world, and Hawaii was his official military post. The Trotts entertained lavishly and were well received by heads of state including Emperor Hirohito of Japan. Over the years, the Trotts received many wonderful and special gifts...They had no children and therefore decided to leave a trust for their housekeeper for the remainder of her life, and they also bequeathed her the majority of their beautiful furniture and decorative arts to her. One such gifts the Trotts received and left to their housekeeper, was an inlaid card table...the housekeeper told me that the table, among other things she owned, had been given to the Trotts by Emperor Hirohito, so she always called it the Hirohito table. Many years later she gave it to me...". The curators of the Fabyan Estate have confirmed the existence of this trust for the housekeeper, Harriette Kibayu of Japanese descent, who they first employed while they were stationed in Hawaii and who remained with them until their death. She did acquire numerous personal and household items subsequently. While the provenance indicates it was Hirohito who gave the table to the Fabyans directly, it may also have been given by Hirohito to Prince Fushimi, either a cousin or uncle of Hirohito, who visited the Chicago area and the Fabyans between 1907 and 1910 as an envoy of the Japanese Imperial family and who passed the table along to his close associate. A famous Japanese general, Kuroki, also visited the Fabyan estate, as well as the Japanese ambassador to the U.S., Baron Komura. Worthy of further research, with several excellent associations to the famed Emperor! In very good condition, with the leg that swings out bearing some expected wear from use.

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June 4, 2010 11:00 AM EDT
Stamford, CT, US

Alexander Historical Auctions LLC

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