While researching the origin of Manhattan, in the historical archaeology of the United States, I have come across this term on old maps, yet an "official" visit by Japanese people is not recorded until after the Civil War to New York. The term appears in the South Street Seaport district, shops apparently offered it as goods or perhaps a service before the Civil War. It's been told that the secret to Japanese lacquer work is that it is (or was) done off-shore, where the dust of civilization is not, and there dries without blemish. I've also seen this term in research for the lacquer applied to outdoor cast iron furniture in the West Point Foundry in Cold Spring, NY, (next to Constitution Island). Perhaps, at one time, it was synonymous with a hard black finish.

Ja*pan"ning (?), n.

The art or act of varnishing in the Japanese manner.

 

© Webster 1913.

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