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Rare First Issue: See the World With the NYK Line!

Finely illustrated map of the world, published in 1926 to promote the Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK) Line's many steamer and freighter fleets in the West. The map shows the routes of NYK's ships all over the globe and lists the ships that make up each of these lines. Notable routes include the Trans-Pacific Fleet, which helped connect Asia to the Americas, and the Japan-Suez-Europe Fleet, which connected Europe to the Middle and Far East via the Suez Canal.

An unusual aspect of this map is the decorative work in the top and bottom margins. These photo illustrations showcase the various amenities and luxuries of the NYK company. Multiple illustrations showcase the layout of passenger cabins while others highlight the beautiful gardens, library, and dining rooms that made up the common area of the ships. All these illustrations contain a brief description of the scene. The use of English and advertisement of luxury implies the desire of the NYK to expand their business in the West.

The NYK Line

The NYK Line (Nippon Yusen Kaisha) is a Japanese shipping company and is a member of the Mitsubishi keiretsu. The company has its headquarters in Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan. It currently has a fleet of about 800 ships, which includes container ships, tankers, bulk and woodchip carriers, Ro-Ro car carriers, reefer vessels, LNG carriers, and cruise ships.

The company traces its history back to the Tsukumo Shokai Shipping company founded by the Tosa clan in 1870. In 1875, as the renamed Mitsubishi Shokai, the company inaugurated Japan's first passenger liner service, with a route from Yokohama to Shanghai; and in that same year, the company name was changed to Mitsubishi Mail Steamship Company. In 1885, a merger with Kyodo Unyu Kaisha (founded 1882) led to the adoption of the company's present name.

The merged company had a fleet of 58 steamships and expanded its operations rapidly, first to other Asian ports and then worldwide, with a line service to London being inaugurated in 1899.

In the first half of the 20th Century, the majority of Japanese merchant ships, tankers and liners sailed under the NYK banner. Regular services linked Kobe and Yokohama with South America, Batavia, Melbourne, Cape Town; and frequent crossings to San Francisco and Seattle. Other routes connected local Chinese cabotage vessels on the Chinese coasts and upper Yangtze.

Ocean routes went east from Japan to Vancouver (Canada) or Seattle. Another way was to stop in Hawaii, and continue to San Francisco and the Panama Canal. The next commercial routes were south from Japan, across the East China Sea. These went to South East Asia, the China coasts, and towards India and the Indian Ocean, to Europe or Batavia (Dutch Indies), or Australia and New Zealand. The fastest services took ten days from Yokohama to Seattle, and one month to Europe.


The map was first issued about 1926 and is apparently quite scarce on the market.

Condition Description
Folding map, printed on front and back. With some wear and small separations at folds and fold intersections.