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MOOR, John Henry.

Notices of the Indian Archipelago, and Adjacent Countries;

Being a collection of Papers relating to Borneo, Celebes, Bali Java, Sumatra, Nias, The Philippine Islands, Sulus, Siam, Cochin China, Malayan Peninsula &c. Accompanied by an index and six maps. Part first.

Singapore: [printed at the Mission Press,] 1837 Stock Code: 132433
£28,500.00
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One of the earliest books ever published in Singapore containing the first comprehensive map of Singapore Town and environs

First edition of one of the earliest books published in Singapore, comprising of articles first published in the Singapore Chronicle, Singapore's first newspaper, between 1824 and 1834. The proposed second part was never published. This valuable resource includes articles which would now otherwise be lost, as there are no known surviving copies of the Singapore Chronicle dating from 1824 to 1826. Although reasonably well-held institutionally it is notably scarce in commerce, with just one copy traced at auction. The work provides a detailed account of life in the settlement at that time, as well as travel routes throughout East Asia, trading reviews of various ports and towns, and details of two crucial agreements, the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 17 March 1824 and the Treaty of Friendship and Alliance of 2 August 1824, which established Britain's sovereignty over Singapore. The compiler of the work, John Henry Moor (1802/3?-1843), moved from Malacca to Singapore in 1830 and became editor of the Singapore Chronicle in 1831, bringing "a new vigour to the editorial side of the paper" (Gibson-Hill, p. 183). In 1835 he moved to a rival publication, the Singapore Free Press, and in 1837 he gave up journalism and devoted himself solely to his role as the first headmaster of the Raffles Institution, which he had held since 1834. Whilst there he established the first free library in Singapore, which subsequently became Singapore's National Library. His Notices of the Indian Archipelago, and Adjacent Countries was intended as the first part of a two part magnum opus, which was grandly announced in 1835, as indicated by the notice "Part first" on this work's title page. The second volume, which was never completed, was to feature previously unpublished papers, as well as engraved views of the environs. The difficulty in producing a second volume is suggested in the preface, headed "a preface by way of apology", which explains the various causes for the two year delay in its publication. These include the fact that the plates were lithographed in Calcutta due to a lack of local facilities, the search for paper suitable for printing, and that there was just a single printer in Singapore available to perform the setting. Moor goes on to acknowledge that achieving the second volume will be a challenge, but at this point remained optimistic. The large frontispiece map was taken from the survey by George Drumgoole Coleman (1795-1844) an Irish civil architect who played an instrumental role in the design and construction of much of the infrastructure in early Singapore, and represents the first comprehensive map of Singapore Town and environs. The lithography was carried out in 1836 by French emigré Jean-Baptiste Tassin at his Oriental Lithographic Press in Calcutta, a press designed for the reproduction of maps on contract from the Government, there being no press in Singapore capable of undertaking the work at this time. This copy has a near-contemporary ownership inscription from Canton to the title page, dated 1848, suggesting the work was dispersed widely in the region.

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Description

Quarto. Original red cloth-backed blue paper covered boards, expertly rebacked at an early date, vestige of the original label. Housed in a custom brown morocco-backed green cloth solander box.

Illustrations

Large hand-coloured folding map of "The Town and environs of Singapore, drawn by J. B. Tassin, from an actual survey by G. D. Coleman", with five further folding maps, all but one likewise hand-coloured, all lithographed by Tassin in Calcutta.

Condition

Skilful paper restoration to folding maps. Slight wear to extremities, boards rubbed and soiled, text-block variably foxed and toned, green pigment on the maps, probably verdigris from the tone, has struck through to the verso quite strongly, other colours remarkably bright; a very good copy indeed.

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