SPL Hand Coloured Rare Book Collection Featuring Norman R Bobins

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MENNIE, Donald.
The Grandeur of the Gorges.

Shanghai: A. S. Watson & Company, Kelly & Walsh, Limited, 1926
Shanghai: A. S. Watson & Company, Kelly & Walsh, Limited, 1926

Quarto. Original pale blue silk brocade pictorial binding. In the original brown pebble-grained card box. 50 photogravure plates, 12 of them coloured, line-drawn title-page vignette from pen and ink sketches by Lieut.-Col. H. G. Gandy, and numerous similar illustrations to the text. Very minor rubbing at the extremities, brocade very slightly spotted, bookplate to the limitation leaf; "Ex Libris P.K. Lamming". - some occasional spotting, but overall an unusually well-preserved example of this attractive book and its fragile binding, the mailing box just a little rubbed. First edition, limited to 1,000 copies, this number 424. Mennie was a Scottish-born American photographer and entrepreneur. In China, he first worked for MacTavish, Lehmann & Co. of Shanghai, later the MacTavish Photo Shop, one of the first producers of picture post-cards of Shanghai. He then moved to A. S. Watson & Co., rising to become their managing director. Founded in the early 19th and still operating today. "Watson's the Chemist" became the Chinese equivalent of "Boots", and similarly offered photographic services, also, as is shown by their joint-publication of this work, they dabbled in books. Mennie employed the, by then, obsolete wet-plate process and printed his work in photogravure, often as here employing hand colouring. The overall impression is consciously antiquarian, an evocation of China's romantic past, and is highly effective. A wonderful example of this unusual photographic gift book. Coloured plates in order: 1. T'ung-Ling Hsia. (The Pierced Cliff). 2. The T'ing-Tsu at Ch'ing-T'an Village. 3. In the Witches Gorge. 4. The City of K'uei-Fu. 5. Wen-Shan. (The Mountains of Learning). 6. Hung-Chuan. ("Red Boats" - the life-boats of the Yangtze). 7. Feng-Hsiang Hsia. (The Wind Box Gorge). 8. The Lamp Light Gorge. 9. The Rock-Bound Mouth of the Niu-Kan, Ma-Fei Hsia. 10. Temple of the Ethereal Bell of A Thousand Ages. 11. Downward Bound. 12. Chungking.