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ALLOM, Thomas (illus.); WRIGHT, George Newenham.


in a series of views, displaying the scenery, architecture, and social habits, of that ancient empire. Drawn, from original and authentic sketches, by Thomas Allom. With historical and descriptive notices.

London: Fisher, Son, & Co., [1843] Stock Code: 139807
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The best-known nineteenth-century work on China

First edition of "the best-known nineteenth-century work" on China (ODNB). Published the year after the First Opium War ended, Allom's China is concerned mainly with areas of British interest in southern China, including Hong Kong, Macao, Canton and Hunan, though there are also many attractive views of Peking. Allom (1804-1872) originally trained as an architectural draughtsman at the Royal Academy Schools, but "it is upon about 1500 designs for albums of topographical steel-engravings that his more prominent and lasting reputation rests. This work, initially undertaken to support himself as a student, became his principal occupation between 1828 and 1845, and during these years he made extensive sketching tours in England, Scotland, France, Belgium, and Turkey, mainly for the publisher H. Fisher & Son" (ibid.) He in fact never visited China and based his illustrations on the work of other artists, though in 1846 he presented a copy of China and of his work on France to King Louis-Philippe, who expressed himself "highly gratified with both" (ibid.) According to Hunnisett, "Allom's drawings are full of little touches which redeem his landscapes from formality" (Steel-Engraved Book Illustration in England, p. 109). The author of the text, G. N. Wright (1794/5-1877) was a Church of England clergyman who wrote the text for a number of topographical works, most of them as here vehicles for artists' engravings.

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4 volumes in 2, quarto in half-sheets (270 x 200 mm). Contemporary moderate green calf, bookseller's ticket for Dugan of Ballymena to the front pastedown of the second volume, partially removed from the first, low flat bands with gilt Greek key roll, red morocco lettering and numbering pieces to the second and fourth compartments, geometric tooling gilt within French fillet gilt panel to the others, concentric panelling in gilt and blind to the boards, the central gilt panel elegantly composed on scrolled foliate and arabesque tools, gilt edge roll, all edges gilt, scrolled roll in blind to the turn-ins, blue-grey shall pattern marbled endpapers, hinges lined with blue linen.


4 steel-engraved vignette title-pages and 124 similar plates after Thomas Allom, all here with original tissue guards.


Somewhat rubbed and scuffed, spines sunned, corners worn, plates with variable foxing, mostly light and verso, some a little more heavy front and back of the volumes, none actually heavily foxed, text leaves similarly a little foxed front and back, pale toning else, certainly very good, a pretty binding unfortunately slightly compromised, but remains attractive.


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