Narrative of The Earl of Elgin's Mission,
1860 US Edition, Laurence Oliphant


Oliphant, Laurence:
Earl of Elgin's Mission to China and Japan, 1860, New York, Harper & Brothers, (first US edition), 1 volume, 645 pages, 8vo (6 3/8 x 9 1/2 in - 16 x 24 cm), color frontispiece (colored engraving / lithograph?) + 60 woodcut engraved text illustrations (range from 1/3 to full page in size), 10 of the 60 woodcut engravings are full plate size, green pictorial gilt cloth. Pages 17-300 deal with the China portion of the Elgin Mission, which started in May of 1857, and the events surrounding the Treaty of Tienstin. The Japanese portion of the book runs from pages 301 to 476 and starts with the arrival in Japan in early August of 1858 through the signing of the Treaty on August 26. The Japanese portion is much more a description of the culture as the British found it than the diplomatic events leading up to the Treaty. The Japanese section even has the obligatory "bathing room" illustration which seems to have been required in all books of this type. Keeping with British tastes, there are no naked bodies, only baths and wooden buckets for washing. After the Japan visit, the Elgin Mission returned to China for more trade negotiations, exploring and a little military action. The Mission departed China on March 4, 1859. The final China related portion of the book runs from pages 477-610.

This is the first US abbreviated version of the original two volume narrative of the mission published in 1859 in England:

Oliphant, Laurence:
Narrative of the Earl of Elgin's mission to China and Japan in the years 1857, 1858, 1859, 1859, Edinburgh, London, William Blackwood and Sons, 2 volumes, blue pictorial cloth gilt, 8vo. Illustrated with 5 folding maps, 20 colored or tinted lithographic plates? and 50 wood-engravings. Volume 1 - 492 pp, Volume 2 - 496 pp. Laurence Oliphant was a private secretary to Lord Elgin and accompanied him to Calcutta, Hong Kong, Canton, Tientsin and Yedo. The main purpose of the mission was the signing of treaties opening both China and Japan to British trade. The first part provides a survey of the Yangtze river and the opening of China to Western commerce. The second part provides a description of the political and social conditions in Japan.
Cover - 1860 - US Edition


Examples of Illustrations
1860 - US Edition

A Winter Scene in Japan

Tea-garden near Yedo

Japanese Funeral

  Listing of full page Illustrations (No prining on back):

  • A Winter Scene in Japan* (Frontispiece) (shown above)
  • Capture of the Peiho Forts (after page 202)
  • Reception-tent of the Imperial Commissioners, Takoo
       (after page 206)
  • Signing of the Treaty of Tienstin
  • Yedo Forts (after page 362)
  • A Street in the aristocratic Quart of Yedo (after page 388)
  • Interview between the Earl of Egin and the Prime Ministers
       of Japan (after page 396)
  • Tea-garden near Yedo (after page 411) (shown above)
  • Interior of Tea-gardens (facing page 415)
  • Japanese Funeral (after page 426) (shown above)

* I have seen the frontispiece described as a lithograph. It is printed by "T. Sinclair's lith Phila". However, it appears to me under 10x magnification to be a handcolored engraving.

Collation. Full Title: Narrative of the Earl of Elgin's Mission to China and Japan in the Years 1857, '58, '59. Frontispiece with tissue guard, Title Page (1 page), Preface (3 pages), Contents (8 pages), List of Illustrations (2 pages), Text (starts at numbered page 17 and runs to 610), Appendix (starts at numbered page 611 and runs to 645), Advertisement for Harper & Brothers books (2 pages). 60 illustrations, including the frontispiece. 10 (frontispiece + 9) of the illustrations are full page and printed on only one side. The 9 full page illustrations in the text portion of the book are not numbered but are counted in the pagination.

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