The Costume of China, Illustrated by Sixty Engravings by George Henry Mason
with explanations in English and French. - Costumes de la Chine, représentés en soixante gravures. First edition. True first edition of the rarest costume book on China with 60 handcoloured plates. Mason was a Major of His Majesty's 102nd Regiment. The 60 finely handcoloured plates show different occupations (largely craftsmen and street vendors) and include depictions of a barber, a bookseller, a pedlar, a shoemaker, a lady of distinction in her habit of ceremony, a carpenter, a puppet show, a woman embroidering, and many more. "Mason identified the author of the images in his book as the Chinese artist Pu Qua (active late 18th century). He probably purchased Pu Qua´s paintings when, as a professional soldier, he stayed in Canton around 1790. In specifically naming the artist, Mason not only declared his role as patron and as a person with access to a faraway land, he also assured his readers that these images were credible accounts of China as seen by a Chinese". The first edition can be recognized by the fact the type for "costume/costumes" and "sixty engravings/soixante gravures" used on the title-pages is hollow type, as in this copy. It contains text leaves on paper watermarked 1794, 1796, 1797; plates on paper watermarked 1796, 1797, and tissue-guards watermarked 1800. The 1800 edition with "costume/costumes" and "sixty engravings/soixante gravures" in solid type on the title-pages is in fact post-1800 and contains plates printed on paper watermarked 1821 and 1823. A wide-margined copy of the first costume book published by Miller and one of the most popular works on China in early 19th-century Europe.
London: Printed for W. Miller, Old Bond Street, by S. Gosnell, Little Queen Street, Holborn, 1800.
134 Pages: title-page in English (verso blank), title-page in French (verso blank), preface in English (4pp), preface in French (4pp), table of contents in English and French (2pp), text to each plate in English and French (120pp). With 60 full-page numbered plates by Dudley (London) after Pu Qua (Canton) all dated May 4, 1799 and in fine contemporary handcolouring. With tissue-guards. 37 x 27.5 x 4cm.
In very good condition. Binding slightly used, plate 48 a little loose, the usual offset mostly on tissue-guards, some marginal soiling and minor browning to pages. Two old descriptions pasted inside front cover and possibly and ex-libris has been removed below them. Otherwise very good.