On September 7, 1822 Pedro, son of Portuguese emperor D. João VI, declared the Brazilian independence from Portugal, and became our first emperor – D. Pedro I. While the independence of other former colonies, like USA, was achieved through years of war, ours needed only the decision of Pedro I (and some payments to Portugal and some commercial advantages to England).

Historians say that the actual facts were far less glamorous than the version told by popular history. Anyway, the version that entered history was based on the following painting, painted by Pedro Américo in 1888:

The man with the sword raised is Pedro I.

Experts in art say that Pedro Américo’s painting was highly based on another painting, 1807 Friedland, from Ernest Meissoner:

Anyway, according to popular history (and Pedro Américo’s painting) Pedro, sword in hand, would have shouted “Independence or death!”, to which the soldiers replied: “Independence!”.

1972 was the 150th anniversary of the independence, and there were many celebrations in Brazil. Gulliver, the same company that makes the Fort Apache in Brazili since 1969, decided to create a commemorative set based on the independence. The set was named “Independência ou morte!” (independence or death). The box of this set was illustrated with part of Pedro Américo’s painting:

The set tried to represent the scene of the independence proclamation, as known in the popular history. Here is an image from the 1973 Gulliver’s catalog:

Note that the set had 4 tents, but there are no tents in Pedro Américo’s painting, only an old house. The set had 14 figures, being 6 standing and 8 on horse. The most important figure was the one representing D. Pedro I:

If you look at the following picture you will see a figure standing in front of the center tent. Many say that this figure also represents D. Pedro I, but others say that the only D. Pedro I figure in the set is the one on horse. The information about this controversy is from the toy collector Marcos Crespo.

The tents and one of the soldiers had the flag of the Empire of Brazil, which was impossible, since Brazil became an empire only after September 7, 1822.

Below two images from Marcos Crespo’s personal collection:

Independence or Death was one of very few sets made in Brazil based on Brazilian history.

The set was made until 1979, but in the last years it was not sold in a box anymore and the figures were not painted. The name also changed – to “Imperial Troops”:

See you in four months,

Marcos Guazzelli

May – 2012



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De: Tadeu Mahfud
Awesome, this is Brazilian History. This type of toy must be followed by the Brazilian toys companies. Its a pitty. Nice images and text. Thanks Guazelli.