REED, Sir Edward J.
Japan: its History, Traditions, and Religions.
With a Narrative of a Visit in 1879.
First edition, inscribed by Reed to “Robt Bird Esq, Mayor of Cardiff, with the kindest regards of the author, Christmas 1883” on the initial blank of the first volume. A notable association copy: Reed became Liberal MP for Cardiff in 1880, holding the seat until the Conservative general election victory of 1895; Robert Bird was chosen as the Liberal candidate 1890 but, owing to his loud opposition to the Boer War was soon dropped in favour of Reed, who held the seat until his retirement in 1906, and died later the same year. The arrival of four US warships in Edo Bay in 1853 signalled the end of Japan’s two centuries of self-imposed isolation. The Tokugawa Shogunate was finally deposed in 1867 and when Japan looked abroad to modernise their navy, the Royal Navy was unsurprisingly identified as the model for development. In the late 1870s Japan ordered three British-built warships, all designed by naval architect Edward Reed: the steel-hulled frigate Fuso and two armoured corvettes, the Hiei and the Kongo, of which the latter was built at Earle’s Shipyard in Hull, where Reed was also chairman. He was invited to Japan in 1879 by Admiral Kawamura ostensibly to oversee their delivery, though the Japanese also appeared keen to negotiate stronger political ties and revised trade deals.
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2 volumes, octavo. Original olive-green cloth, spines lettered in gilt, decorated overall in black and gilt with illustration after Hokusai to front covers, fore edges untrimmed, grey coated endpapers, binder’s ticket of W. Bone and Son to rear pastedowns. 16 engraved plates of which 8 after Hokusai, 26 engravings to the text, folding map. 32 pages of advertisements dated September 1880 to rear of volume 2. Spines sunned, extremities bumped and lightly rubbed, endleaves foxed, superficial cracking to joints between a few gatherings. A very good copy.