Peter Harrington showcases rare editions about Asia

December 2018 – Peter Harrington’s new catalogue (Catalogue 148 – Asia) showcases a selection of material relating to Central Asia, China, India, Japan and the Middle East.


Here are a few examples:



Velikiy Put’. Vidy Sibiri I Velikoy Sibirskoy Zheleznoy dorogi [The Great Way. Views of Siberia and Great Siberian Railroad].

Published: Krasnoyarsk M.B. Akselrod, 1899

Stock Code: 127450





First edition, first part, all published; decidedly uncommon, five locations only on OCLC, just Smithsonian and Harvard in North America. With the self-explanatory subtitle “From the river Ob to the River Yenisei and Tomsk branch. 124 views of the most important railroads, buildings, cities, villages, views of foreigners and scenic areas adjacent to the line. etc., with a description of them” this was the first part of a projected series building into a pictorial record of the full length of the line, which by 1898 had reached Khabarovsk on the Russian shore of the Pacific. An unusual provincial production, although printed in St. Petersburg it was published at Krasnoyarsk, an important junction on the line. An attractive promotional item for this remarkable transformative infrastructural project, the construction of the longest railway line in the world.


Landscape folio, original publisher’s mid-blue pebble-grained cloth, bevelled boards, large and striking illustration in colours to the front board, panels in blind to the rear board, endpapers with sepia scrolled foliate design.


124 pages of full-page halftone illustrations from photographs by I.R.Tomashkevich


Cloth slightly rubbed, but the pictorial design still strong, title page a little spotted, some finger soiling to the lower fore-corner, last leaf creased and with some annotations in the lower margin in mauve copying pencil, overall very good.


STEIN, M. Aurel.


Detailed Report of Explorations in Central Asia and Westernmost China Carried Out and Described under the Orders of H.M. Indian Government.

Published: Oxford Clarendon Press, 1921

Stock Code: 125986




First edition, first impression, of this landmark work which has a strong claim to be the single most important text on Central Asia. Stein explains in his introduction: “The term Serindia, as adopted (in the form Sérinde) by valued French fellow-scholars, is excellently suited for the designation of this region, well-defined by nature as well as by historical relationship. Significant brevity would amply justify its use even if the interpretation which derives Procopius’ local name Serinda from a compound of the terms in Greek Seres, the classical name for the people of Serica or China and India may prove to have no better foundation than ‘learned popular etymology'”. Stein provides a richly illustrated account of his second Central Asian expedition of 1906-8, in which he crossed into Chinese Turkestan and excavated a number of sites along the Silk Road, discovered what appeared to be an extension of the Great Wall and “located the famous Jade Gate, the historic frontier post on the Silk Road” (Howgego). Most notably he gained access to the Mogao Caves, also known as the Caves of the Thousand Buddhas; it was here that Stein “was staggered to behold countless ancient manuscript bundles, heaped in layers to a height of 10 feet and occupying close to 500 cubic feet” (ibid.). In his review of the work, the distinguished British sinologist Lionel Giles stated that “‘monumental’ is an adjective that is apt to be abused; but few will question its applicability to the present work, which describes in detail the progress and results of what is perhaps the most fruitful archaeological expedition that has been undertaken in modern times” (Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 56.1, 1921).


5 volumes, quarto, comprising 3 volumes of text, volume of plates and plans, and map-case. Original brick-red cloth, spines and front covers lettered in gilt, front covers with embossed gilt roundel showing Athena with arm outstretched brandishing the aegis incorporating the gorgoneion (Stein’s personal emblem).


345 half-tone illustrations from photographs and 59 plans to the text volumes, 175 plates to the third volume, map-case with 94 maps.


Bookplates and shelf marks of Bath Public Library, with their stamps in blank margins of text and plates. Spine ends lightly bumped, front hinge of vol. III cracked, some very light foxing to contents. Map case a little rubbed, scratch to top panel, some maps a little cockled and creased. A very good set.


DOOLITTLE, Rev. Justus.

Vocabulary and Hand-book of the Chinese Language….

Vocabulary and Hand-book of the Chinese Language.


Published: Foochow Rozario, Marcal and Company, 1872

Stock Code: 129232





First edition of this comprehensive English-to-Chinese vocabulary phrase book. Rev. Justus Doolittle (1824-1880) was a US missionary, Chinese scholar and numismatist who wrote extensively on Chinese culture and religion, publishing a number of articles in the China Mail. This work features an expansive English-to-Chinese dictionary in volume I, and a general handbook, containing additional phrases and miscellaneous guides to Chinese language and culture, in volume II, including a chapter on Chinese coinage based on his own collection. Provenance: from the library of Albert Ephriam André (1877-1944), with ownership stamp to front pastedown of volume I and his extensive annotations to the text, predominately in volume II. André was likewise a US missionary, working in Fancheng from 1899 until 1901, returning in 1902 until 1907. His annotations are in both English and Mandarin, and are mainly to be found in sections on religion, including Buddhism and local heresies. In a number of places the annotation appears to be a phonetic spelling of the correct Chinese pronunciation. André later returned to the US and became curator of the Oriental Department at the Brooklyn Museum.



2 volumes, octavo. Original black buckram, spines relaid, retaining the majority of the original cloth, titles to spine in gilt, edges patterned red.


A touch of wear to tips, cloth discreetly furbished, professional reinforcement to joints, light toning to contents, a very good, uncommonly bright, set.