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Illustrations of China and its People. Illustrations of China and its People. Illustrations of China and its People. Illustrations of China and its People. Illustrations of China and its People. Illustrations of China and its People. Illustrations of China and its People. Illustrations of China and its People.
Illustrations of China and its People.

Illustrations of China and its People....

A Series of Two Hundred Photographs, With Letterpress Description of the Places and People Represented.

Availability: In stock

Published: London Sampson Low, Marston, Low, and Searle, 1873-74

Stock Code: 95456

OR On display in 43 Dover Street


First edition, the deluxe edition in a variant publisher's binding. "My design in the accompanying work is to present a series of pictures of China and its people, such as shall convey an accurate impression of the country I traversed as well as of the arts, usages, and manners which prevail in different provinces of the Empire. With this intention I made the camera my constant companion of my wanderings, and to it I am indebted for the faithful reproduction of the scenes I visited, and of the types of races which I came into contact" (Thomson, introduction). The Scottish photographer and travel writer, John Thomson (1837-1921) captured some of the most outstanding images of China during the nineteenth century, beginning at Singapore in the 1860s, where his brother was established in business. He then travelled to Cambodia, obtaining permission from King Mongkut to photograph the temples at Angkor and Phnom Penh, the results of which were published in his first major work, The Antiquities of Cambodia (Edinburgh, 1867). Returning to the Far East in late 1867, he visited Vietnam and then set up a studio in Hong Kong. "Between 1870 and 1872 he Thomson undertook four distinct journeys, up the north branch of the Pearl River, up the River Min to the area around Foochow (Fuzhou), to Peking (Beijing), and finally up the great Yangtze (Yangzi) River. The photographs taken on these journeys form one of the most extensive photographic surveys of any region taken in the nineteenth century. The range and depth of his photographic vision mark Thomson out as one of the most important travel photographers" (ODNB). The present volumes, published on his return to London in 1872, established his reputation as a photographer, traveller and authority on China.
The first two volumes were printed apparently in an edition of only 600 copies, a restricted run that was increased to 750 copies for volumes 3 and 4; the volumes were sold for 3 3s. each, a substantial amount at the time, which reflects the high standards of production.

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4 volumes, folio. Original publisher's half morocco, dark green pebbled cloth sides, covers with gilt titles and gilt vignettes of the Confucian Temple at Peking, spine gilt, edges gilt.


With 218 photographic views and portraits by Thomson on 96 collotype plates, each with guard and leaf of descriptive text.


Ownership signature of J. M. Walford to front free endpapers of first 2 volumes. A few marks to cloth, an excellent set.


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