China - Pictorial, Descriptive, and Historical. With some account of Ava and the Burmese, Siam, and Anam - Julia Corner

1853 - Henry G. Bohn, London - First Edition
A compilation of various writings on China, with steel engraved map, and 85 black and white woodcut illustrations. Beautifully bound in modern pictorial cloth.

A large portion of the writing is from Julia Corner’s
History of China, other authors include John Davis and Wells Williams. 
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Price HK$ 3,000

The Eastern Seas - George Windsor Earl

1837 - Wm. H. Allen and Co., London - First Edition
A very important association copy, with the signature of Margaret, Lady Brooke. Earl was a strong admirer of Raffles, who had died in 1826’ and Earl’s book ‘greatly impressed James Brooke, who was also an admirer of Raffles and his writings’. Brooke’s prospectus for his voyage to Singapore and then Borneo (published in October 1938), reflected the influence of Earl’s book.

An entertaining and insightful work, with extensive chapters on Indonesia, Borneo, Malaysia, and Singapore, as well as a lengthy treatise in the Appendix titled ‘
Observations on the Commercial Resources of the Indian Archipelago’. Illustrated with four folding maps.

Brooke encouraged the work of Wallace, whose ‘
Wallace Line’, showing the boundary between Asian and Australian faunal regions, was critical to Wallace and Darwin’s evolutionary theory. But the ‘Line’ had been earlier presented to the Royal Geographical Society by Earl in 1845, and Wallace acknowledged that ‘Earl believed that there had been a former connection between Asia and Australia’. Darwin also wrote to Wallace, after reading a draft of his paper on Malay zoogeography, to ask: ‘Are you aware that Mr. W. Earl published several years ago the view of distribution of animals in Malay Archipelago in relation to the depth of the sea between the islands?’. 
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Price HK$ 9,000

The English Governess at the Siamese Court - Anna Harriette Leonowens

1870 - Fields, Boston - First Edition
With sixteen black and white engraved illustrations from photographs presented to the author by the new King of Siam, who owed his education to ‘that tiresome, naughty and meddlesome, Mem Leonowens . . . a good and true lady’.

Leonowens’ remarkable memoirs were the basis for Rodgers and Hammerstein's 1951 hit musical
The King and I, starring Gertrude Lawrence as Leonowens and Yul Brynner as the King.

In 1862, Leonowens accepted an offer made by the Siamese consul in Singapore, Tan Kim Ching, to teach the wives and children of Mongkut, king of Siam. The king wished to give his 39 wives and concubines and 82 children a modern Western education on scientific secular lines, which earlier missionaries' wives had not provided. Leonowens sent her daughter Avis to school in England, and took her son Louis with her to Bangkok. She served at court until 1867, a period of nearly six years, first as a teacher and later as language secretary for the king. Although her position carried great respect and even a degree of political influence, she did not find the terms and conditions of her employment to her satisfaction, and came to be regarded by the king himself as a 'difficult woman and more difficult than generality'. In 1868, Leonowens was on leave for her health in England and had been negotiating a return to the court on better terms when Mongkut fell ill and died. The king mentioned Leonowens and her son in his will, though they did not receive the legacy. The new monarch, fifteen-year-old Chulalongkorn, who succeeded his father, wrote Leonowens a warm letter of thanks for her services. He did not invite her to resume her post but they corresponded amicably for many years.
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Price HK$ 7,000

Embassy to the Eastern Courts of Cochin-China, Siam, and Muscat - Edmund Roberts

1837 - Harper & Brothers, New York - First Edition
Important account of an early American embassy to the east. Roberts was appointed as special agent of the United States to negotiate treaties with Muscat, Siam, Cochin China and Japan, which he set out to do in 1832 with the ship Peacock and the schooner Boxer.

Includes about 120 pages describing the culture and business practices of China.
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Price HK$ 7,500

1649 - Apud Ludovicum Elzevirium, Amsterdam - First Edition
Two little volumes bound in one stunning contemporary vellum binding (11.9 x 6.5 cm), with additional engraved title page and folding out table.

Volume I contains the first comprehensive description of Japan from a European perspective, which Varenius based on a diversity of sources, without visiting Japan himself, together with a Latin translation of the first reliable work on Siam (Thailand, and provinces of Cambodia, Malaysia, and Burma) by Joost Schouten. Volume II contains a discourse on religion in Japan by Varenius, and his writings on diverse races and their religions (including Schouten on the religions of Siam), followed by short excerpts from
Leo Africanus on religion in Africa. 
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Price HK$ 7,800