Boston: J.B. Millet Company, 1897. Deluxe/ Limited First edition. Hardcover. The extremely rare Kyoto edition, limited to only 25 copies with original pen & ink drawings in three of the five volumes. This partial set includes Volumes 2, 3, 7, 9 & 10 (of a total of 10 volumes).
Captain Francis Brinkley (1841-1912), Irish scholar and the editor of these volumes, traveled to Japan in 1867 as a commander in the Royal Artillery, became foreign advisor to the Meiji government, and eventually owner and editor of the Japan Mail. "J. B. Millet Company used original photographs to illustrate no less than 16 different folio editions of the multi-volume Japan: Described and Illustrated by the Japanese published between 1897 and 1898. The publisher limited the most exclusive editions to 25 sets, available by subscription only, with larger editions numbering 750 to 1000 sets."* Extensive research of auction records has not revealed even one set of the Kyoto edition.
The work illustrated a window into Japanese history and culture, including art and literature, religion, traditions, family life, women in Japan, crime, commerce, and politics. The hand colored photographs, which constitute one of the most ambitious 19th century photographic publishing endeavors ever undertaken, feature historic sites, city views, landscapes, genre scenes, and portraits of Japanese.
Each volume or section lettered F, of a lettered edition limited to 25 copies. An outstanding production with each folio volume bound in different colored silk "made by hand in Tokyo and printed there by the Xylography process (woodcut) under the supervision of K. Ogawa of Tokyo." The Japanese binding with silk tassels and cords made by S. Iida of Kyoto.
Contents include: Vol. 2: "The Early Japanese and Their History." Vol. 3: "Establishment of the Tokugawa Dynasty and Japan's Relations with the Orient in the Early Ages of the Christian Era." Vol. 7: "Festivals." Vol. 9: "Japan's Commercial and Political Intercourse with Foreign Countries." Vol. 10: "The Attitude of Japan Toward Foreign Residents; Japanese Finance, concluded."
Vol 2: photographic frontispiece, hand colored; 7 hand colored full page photographs; 1 block printed painting at rear; 19 small color photographs, tipped in.
Vol 3: original signed watercolor frontispiece; 7 full page hand colored albumen photographs; 1 block printed painting; 19 small hand colored photographs in text.
Vol 7: original watercolor frontispiece; 7 hand colored albumen photographs; 1 block printed painting; 20 original hand colored small photographs in text.
Vol 9: original watercolor frontispiece; 7 full page hand colored albumen photographs; 20 small hand colored photographs in text; 1 block printed painting highlighted with gold.
Vol 10: photographic frontispiece, hand colored; 7 full page hand colored albumen photographs; 20 original hand colored small photographs in text; 1 block printed painting.
Ex lib with bookplate at front paste downs; silk edges rubbed, otherwise a beautiful set in the original printed silk. Each volume with the loosely inserted notice from the publisher: "Caution. Do Not Cut the Leaves of this book, as it is bound in Japanese style. J.B. Millet Company, Publishers, Boston, Mass."
* hcl.harvard.edu on Early Photography of Japan. Very good + condition. Item #22366