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HALL, Basil.

Account of a Voyage of Discovery to the West Coast of Corea, and the Great Loo-Choo Island;

with an Appendix, containing Charts, and Various Hydrographical and Scientific Notices. And a Vocabulary of the Loo-Choo Language by H.J. Clifford, Esq.

Published: London: John Murray, 1818

Stock code: 89647

Price: £2,250

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This item is on show at 43 Dover Street (map)

First edition. The most important early British account of Korea. “This expedition took Lord Amherst’s embassy to China and explored the relatively little-known East China Sea and the Yellow Sea. Visits were made to Korea and the Ryuku Archipelago. Korea had been sketchily explored by Europeans, but it was not until this 1816-17 expedition of the Alceste and Lyra under Captains Murray Maxwell and Basil Hall, that detailed information was obtained about the Ryukus” (Hill). Although Captain William Broughton, the first British visitor to Korea, had published an account of his experiences in 1804, A Voyage of Discovery to North Pacific Ocean, his book had little influence, whereas Hall’s publication seems not only to have been timely in terms of catching the public imagination, but his wide-ranging interests and acute observational skills rendered his account of lasting value, “it is important for four reasons – it contains the earliest Western hydrological description of parts of the west coast of Korea, it provides the earliest Western description of the geology of Korea, it contains a description of ordinary life in rural Korea just before the impact of European imperial and commercial expansion, and it provides a graphic first-hand account of the political conditions of Korea at the close of the Choson dynasty” (Grayson, Basil Hall’s Account of a Voyage of Discovery, in the Sungkyun Journal of Asian Studies, volume 7, no. 1, 2007). Its wider, popular appeal was captured in The Edinburgh Review’s critique, “this very delightful account of the people of Loo-Choo …makes us proud of our country, and puts us in a good humour with our species.”

Quarto (266 203 mm). Green half calf, marbled boards, to style, orange morocco label, plain spine, compartments formed by a gilt greek key roll, enclosing gilt lozenges, marbled edges. Hand-coloured aquatint frontispiece and 7 similar plates, one uncoloured aquatint and one engraving, 5 engraved maps, 2 of them folding, bound with the half-title. Light browning, some offsetting as usual, marginal fingersoiling, a very good copy, well presented.

Bibliography: Abbey Travel 588; Cordier IV 3009; Hill p. 134; Howgego II, H3; NMM, I, p. 523.

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