SPL Hand Coloured Rare Book Collection Featuring Norman R Bobins

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Picturesque Representations of the Dress and Manners of the Chinese.

London: Thomas M'Lean, n.d. [c1830]
Abbey Travel 533 (note) and 534; Bobins III 1101.
London: Thomas M'Lean, n.d. [c1830]

1pp (title) + 1pp (list of plates) + 50 leaves of descriptive text facing 50 contemporary hand-coloured engraved plates. Exquisitely bound by Courtland Benson in a thematic period-style burgundy morocco, with elaborate Greek-key patterned borders to boards; black on-lays with the "Yin and Yang" symbol; ornate gilt inner dentelles; marbled endpapers. An untrimmed, wide-margined copy, clean and crisp; near fine. Alexander went to China in 1792 as draughtsman with the Earl of Macartney's embassy to the Emperor of China. His first-hand observations are reflected in the finely-executed illustrations of the costume and dress of the Chinese people, which showcase the different classes and occupations of the people encountered. Portrayals include: the Emperor and his servants, fishermen, state officials, priests, vendors, soldiers, labourers, musicians, entertainers and tradesmen. The engravings are by John Murray and dated 1814, but are printed on paper watermarked "1827." It seems that Murray, the original publisher, sold the printing plates to Thomas M'Lean in about 1818, who then republished the book at some later date. Coloured plates in order: 1. Frontis. Kien Lung, the Emperor. 2. Title page. A Stand of Arms. 3. Fishermen and their Cormorants. 4. A Man Servant. 5. Mandarin in his Court Dress. 6. An Offering in the Temple by a Young Bonzee. 7. A Juggler. 8. Children collecting Manure. 9. A Watchman. 10. A Lady and her Son. 11. A Bonzee. 12. A Vendor of Lanterns. 13. A Soldier with his Matchlock. 14. A Porter carrying Goods. 15. A Mandarin in his Common Dress. 16. A Boat Girl. 17. A common Sedan Chair. 18. A Mandarin's Servant on Horseback. 19. An itinerant Musician. 20. An Officer of the Corps of Bowman with Ensign. 21. A Chinese Mendicant. 22. Chinese Barbers Champooing etc. 23. A Bookseller. 24. A Soldier of Infantry. 25. A Raree Show. 26. A Mandarin's Page. 27. A travelling Smith. 28. Mourners at the Tomb of a Relation. 29. A Vendor of Rice. 30. A Female Comedian. 31. A Sedan Bearer. 32. A man selling Betel, etc. 33. Horse and Cart with Driver. 34. A Seller of Pipes. 35. A Waterman in his Barge. 36. Tradesman with his Swan-pan. 37. Women peasants winding Cotton. 38. A Tartar Dragoon Soldier of the Cavalry mounted. 39. Punishment of the Tcha, or Cangue. 40. Group of Children eating their meal. 41. A Sedan Chair. 42. Vessels on the Great Canal. 43. A Chinese Lady of Rank. 44. Nursery Maid and her two Children. 45. A Stage Player. 46. Group of Trackers Regaling. 47. Mandarin's Officer. 48. Punishment for Insolence to a Superior (the Arrow punishment.) 49. Woman selling Chow-Chow. 50. Group of Soldiers.