Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Vintage Photos of China: Black, J.R. THE FAR EAST. A Monthly Journal. 2 volumes. Shanghai: 1876-1877.

Among the best photographs of  the period...
Approximately 55 photos related to China
(Sold November, 2011)

Illustrated with 82 Albumen Photographs
[Photographs of China and Japan].  BLACK , J.R. ed.  The Far East. A Monthly Journal, Illustrated with Photographs  . Shanghai: ‘Far East’ Printing Office, 1876-1877.  2 Volumes. Quarto (26.5 x 22cm).  1st edition. New series. Volumes 1 & 2.  iv +ii+152pp, with 43 original albumen photographs, and 1 illustration in the text (page 45);  Iv + 138pp, with 39 original albumen photographs.  Total: 82 tipped-in photographs (sizes ranging between 8.5 x 8cm and 20 x14 cm).

Volume One: original publisher’s crimson half morocco, moiré cloth.  Volume Two: full red morocco, each volume re-spined in period-style matching red calf, gilt. Front and rear boards of Volume One moiré cloth discoloured. Pages wavy from the mounted photographs. Over all a very good set indeed with the photographs in very good to fine condition, with good tonality. Approximately 55 images relate to China.  SOLD

“It was in May 1870, that [Black] first conceived the idea of publishing a newspaper  illustrated with photographs of the Far East.” [From the Introduction]. The photographs provide a vivid insight into to the daily life and personalities in China, including:

-temples in Shanghai (Temple of Confucius),
-images of beggars,
-itinerant cobblers,
-high-ranking Chinese officials (incl. the Governor of Nanking, and the famous statesman Li Hong-zhang),
-a Shanghai merchant’s wife,
-a small number of missionary and political figures (incl. Sir Thomas Wade, Samuel Wells Williams, Robert Hart, Medhurst, Sir Harry Parkes),
punishment of the Cangue (Hongkew Police Station),
-bound feet of a Chinese woman,
-two group photos of American Presbyterian Mission Conference at Shanghai.

In addition, there are photographs of Japan, including:
-tea houses in Tokyo
-Japanese Buddhist priests

(See: Gernsheim.  Incunabula of British Photography: Bibliography of British Photographic Literature, 1839-75, and British Books Illustrated with Original Photographs.  Item 635).

Note: An index of all of the photographs is available. 

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