London: Printed for R. Ackermann, 1822. First edition in English. Contemporary diced Russia calf, neatly rebacked in brown morocco tooled in gilt, with black morocco spine label. Rolled gilt tooling to board perimeter, edges and turn ins, now quite worn. Corners expertly renewed in brown morocco. All edges marbled, and with marbled endpapers. Binding with wear and rubbing, but still quite attractive. Short 1" split at the top of the front joint. Folio measuring 297 x 238 mm and Collating xvi, 325, [1, blank]: complete, including all thirteen hand-colored aquatint and engraved plates (including two plates of volcanos in Japan). The last plate is folding, and comprises six parts joined, making two parallel panoramic strips depicting two funeral processions. Text and plates watermarked 1821. Bookplate of Ernest Mason Satow to front pastedown. Previous owner's ink name "C. Grant" to top fore-edge corner of blank preliminary leaf. An excellent copy internally. Despite the minor flaws, this copy remains a remarkable example in very good condition.
A senior official in the Dutch East India Company, Isaac Titsingh spent time in Japan from 1779 to 1784, a time when very limited visitation was allowed by Europeans into the Empire. For that duration, he closely observed the history and culture of the Japanese people, collecting art, recording his experiences, and aiming to become an "authority" on the country. In writing the present work, his goal was to familiarize the Western world with the beauty and sophistication of that nation's people, and to present them as a state of vital global importance. "The book consists of private memoirs and anecdotes of the sovereigns of Japan, descriptions of feasts and ceremonies, and remarks on language and literature. Its eleven coloured plates in aquatint or line... are of interest as illustrating one of the first books, dealing with things Japanese, introduced into this country. Isaac Titsingh...was among the earliest European collectors of Japanese prints, the modern appreciation of which may be said to date from the Paris Exhibition of 1867" (Hardie). (Item #4018)