1808 The Punishments of China, Illustrated by Twenty-Two Engravings, George Henry Mason


1808 The Punishments of China, illustrated by Twenty-Two Engravings. A large work, with full-page plates, in color.

At the time of posting this listing, using Vialibri, searching all the editions published between 1800 and 1808, this copy is best-priced by several hundred dollars.

About the Work -

“(Major) George (Henry) Mason travelled to Canton in 1789. It was one of only two cities in China that outsiders could legally visit at the time, and Mason relished the opportunity to provide ‘partial instruction and general amusement’ about an ‘exotic’ foreign land to a fascinated but parochial audience of armchair tourists in England.” – State Library Victoria

Mason also produced a set of sixty engravings titled, "The Costume of China".

There are some records that indicate that the illustrations were made in a Chinese workshop of Pu Qua.

Provenance -

The ex libris plate of Marshall Field likely refers to the dry goods merchant of Chicago, who experienced great success importing (including from China).

The globe (a dexter arm, issuing out of clouds, holding a sphere) on the Field crest was issued to the astronomer John Field of Hortony in the 16th century.

Bibliographic Details -

Worldcat records twenty-one of the world's libraries holding this edition. While it's not particularly rare, and a later printing, it is held in high regard and the list of libraries includes many of the finest (Standford, Huntington, LACMA, Harry Ransom, etc).

Physical Attributes -

Measures approx. 37 x 26 x 1.5 cm. Straight grain crushed black morocco leather, respined. Boards with a frame of gilt and blind rolls. Spine with five raised bands; five compartments with a central gilt floret, one compartment with the title in gilt. Marbled endpapers. Twenty-two full-page engravings. Text in English and French (English on recto, French on verso).

Pages - 54 un-numbered leaves, and 22 plates of engravings. To get to 54, 22 explanatory pages in English, 22 in French, and 10 pages of preliminary leaves (title pages, index, etc.).

Condition -

See pictures. Binding with some edge and corner wear, rubbing. On close inspection, it is respined, but an excellent job (difficult to see). Spine edges rubbed (bands). Ex libris plate on pastedown. 1 cm tear at bottom of 1st blank binder's leaf. Some thumbing to verso of frontis and title page. Some thumbing throughout. Illustrations have ghosted to facing pages, lightly. Occasional printing marks with ink spot(s), block edge, etc.. Occasional fox spot in paper. There's a very light mark in the paper that indicates a long ago moisture mark from the bottom corner, but it's quite faint. Bottom corner of xiv text has three brown spots.

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