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KAEMPFER, Engelbert.

De Beschryving van Japan,

behelsende een verhaal van den ouden en tegenwoordigen staat en regeering van dat ryk... Uyt het oorspronkelyk Hoogduytsche handschrift, nooit te vooren gedrukt, in het Engelsch overgezet, door J. G. Scheuchzer, Lidt van de Koninklyke Maatschappy... onder het opzicht van den Ridder Hans Sloane.

Jan Roman de Jonge, Amsterdam , 1733 Stock Code: 124565
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Second Dutch edition, following the first of 1729; Kaempfer's History of Japan was first published in London in 1727. Born in Westphalia, Kaempfer graduated in 1676 with a doctorate in languages, history and medicine from Cracow, spending the following four years at Königsberg studying medicine and natural science. In 1681 he moved to Uppsala and two years later was chosen to accompany Ludwig Fabritius's embassy from Charles XII to Russia and Persia. At Esfahan Kaempfer decided not to return with the rest of the party, but instead obtained employment with the Dutch East India Company and headed south for Bandar Abbas, where for two years he was surgeon at the Dutch factory. In 1688 he set sail for the East passing through Muscat, the Malabar and Coromandel coasts, Cochin and Quilon, arriving in Batavia in October 1689. "After spending the winter studying the natural history of Java he took a vessel to Japan as physician to the Dutch trading factory there. En route the vessel called at the Dutch factory in Siam, where Kaempfer visited Ayuthaya and Bangkok. On 24.9.90 he arrived at the Dutch factory of Deshima in Nagasaki, Japan, the only Japanese port at that time open to foreign trade" (Howgego). In 1691 he set out with the head of the factory on his first journey to the Imperial court at Edo, receiving an audience with Shogun Tokugawa Tsunayoshi. He made a second similar trip in 1692 before leaving Japan and returning to Batavia, eventually sailing for Europe some time in 1693. "His adroitness, insinuating manners and medical skill overcame the habitual jealousy and reticence of the natives, and enabled him to elicit much valuable information" (Ency. Brit.). By 1695 he had established himself as a physician in his home town of Lemgo, where he remained until his death in 1716. In his lifetime he published nothing of his travels in the Far East, although the present account was written shortly before his death, and it was not until his natural history collection and literary remains were purchased by Sir Hans Sloane in 1723-5 that this account was translated by Johann Gaspar Scheuzer and prepared for publication. Thereafter this encyclopaedic description of Japanese flora and fauna, religion and customs, government and industries remained "the chief source of Western knowledge of Japan" (Landwehr) for over a century, being translated into all major languages and reprinted on numerous occasions.

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Folio (347 x 209 mm). Contemporary mottled calf professionally refurbished at head and tail of spine and corners, spine richly gilt with stylised sunflowers and scrolling foliate motifs, compartments bordered by a saw-tooth roll, gilt tooled on the raised bands, red morocco label, marbled and combed edges.


Engraved allegorical title by Jan Caspar Philips and 48 plates and maps (complete); title page printed in red and black, text in double-columns.


Contemporary armorial bookplate (signed "M. A.") of Henri-Joseph Vleys, seigneur de Ten Doele (1703-1759), ennobled in 1730 by the Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI. A particularly attractive copy, clean, well-margined and in an appealing period binding.


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