Condition. The book is in Very Good+ condition. The frontispiece engraving and illustrated title page have very light foxing which is usual for this book Text pages are the bright and supple with only minor scattered light foxing. This book has a blue cloth cover (reported in blue, green, brown and red) with gilt lettering and decoration on the spine. The spine is darkened (sunned). The head and foot of the spine are softened and with minor fraying at the top and heavy fraying at the bottom. Corners are bumped and edges worn and bent/wrinkled. The front and back hinges (inner and outer are sound. There is an illustrated bookplate inside the front cover (John M.W. Pratt) which has been pasted over another piece of paper. A nice example of this book.
A Visit to India, China and Japan In The Year 1853, 1855, New York - G.P. Putnam & Co., London - Sampson Low, Son & Co., 1855, with a black and white frontispiece (steel engraving), illustrated (steel engraving) short title page, 8vo (5 x 7 3/4 in), green, brown, black or blue cloth with gilt lettering on the spine (some books have gilt decoration also) and blindstamped covers with ornate repeating oval design and "GPP&Co." in central oval frame, 539 pp.
The frontispiece is an Okinawan scene, the "The Valley of Unna in Lew Chew" drawn by Taylor. Two minor variations in the frontispiece in the first edition have been recorded. Type A has the lettering immediately under the image with the artist's name (B. Taylor) (positioned on the left) and the engraver's name (positioned to the right). Type B does not have this lettering.
The book is a narrative of Taylor's two and 1/3 year world travels of over 50,000 miles. The journey spanned most of the European countries, the Nile to Central Africa, Palestine, Asia Minor, India, China (twice), Okinawa and Japan. Taylor tied up with the Perry Expedition to Japan in Shanghai by actually joining the Navy as an "officer of very moderate rank" (p 361). During the expedition, Taylor traveled on board the Susquehanna as the personal clerk to Captain Buchanan. Taylor, America's most popular literary journalist of that period, accompanied the expedition and recorded the military and diplomatic maneuvers by which Perry gained access to Japanese officials. He was not on the entire expedition but was on the expedition to Japan during May to September, 1853 time period which included a visit to Okinawa, the delivery of the President's letter and the return to Hong Kong and Macau. After smoking a little opium in Canton, Taylor terminated his brief career as a Naval Officer in September of 1853 and headed home on commercial vessels. The Perry Expedition portion of the book spans approximately one-fourth of the book (ca 140 pages).
Taylor's account of the visit to Okinawa is perhaps one of the most informative (outside the original Narrative of the Expedition) account of life in Okinawa in the mid-19th century. His first observation, on viewing the Island from sea on May 27, 1853 was:
When the next morning dawned, bright and clear, I though I had never seen a more lovely landscape than the island presented. (page 366)
The Loo-Choo account (pages 364-388) given by Taylor touches on many different aspects from geography, cultural properties, government, local customs, structures and living conditions, commerce, diet and agricultural practices, to name just a few.
The Valley of Unna in Lew Chew - Frontispiece
Type B (No Lettering Under Image)
Illustrated half-title (short title) page
Collation. Full Title: A Visit to India, China and Japan In The Year 1853, New York, G.P. Putnam, 1855, Frontispiece (engraving - Valley of Unna in Loo Choo) with tissue guard, Short (Half) Title Page with (engraving - Taj Mahal), Title Page (2 pages), Dedication Page, Preface (4 pages), Contents (10 pages), Text (numbered pages 13-539).