Sketches of China: with Illustrations from Original Drawings - W. W. Wood 1830 - Carey & Lea, Philadelphia - First Edition A rare little treasure with six lithograph plates from drawings by Wood.

William Wightman Wood was an early influential American writer from Philadelphia who worked in Canton with Russell & Company. Wood wrote for, edited, and published two early newspapers, the Canton Register in 1827 and, in 1831, the Chinese Courier and Canton Gazette. He was also a friend of George Chinnery, once challenged the editor of the Canton Register, Arthur Keating, to a duel, and after being refused the hand of Harriet Lowe, a Salem girl who travelled to China with her uncle, who was also working for Russell & Co., Wood decamped to the Philippines where he became one of the first photographers in the far east.
  References: Abbey Travel 540. Cordier, Bibliotheca Sinica, 1833. Kendall Johnson, Narratives of Free Trade.

Duodecimo (binding size 17.9x11.5cm), pp. xii 13-250 [2 (tables)] [2]. Plates Collated 29/11/2018. Frontis, 74, 75, 133,138, 140.

Interesting commentaries on William Wood, an extract from ‘The Romance of China: Excursions to China in U.S. Culture: 1776-1876
That newspaper also noted the efforts of “a young Philadelphia naturalist, Mr. W. W. Wood,” whom Dunn befriended in Canton probably because the two shared the same contempt for the opium trade and the British East India Company. 42 Like Dunn, William Wood had ventured to China to get rich, and in the 1820s he found himself clerking for the American firm of Russell and Company. Unlike Dunn, Wood lacked business acumen and never achieved any success that can be measured in dollars. He was, however, a true romantic, and his years roving across Asia proved to be anything but uneventful. The son of a famous actor, he possessed a deep reservoir of artistic talent. Another American residing in Canton aptly described Wood: “He abounded in wit, was well read, and of no fixed purpose.” Known as a clever poet, Wood would compose parodies of famous poems and base them on life in Canton. 43 Also a skilled draughtsman and caricaturist, he offered art lessons in the foreign community and even wrote and illustrated his own book, Sketches of China, published in 1830.

Wood also founded and edited the first English-language newspaper in China, The Canton Register, which he printed himself on a borrowed handpress. In his editorials, he frequently inveighed against the East India Company, sparking controversy in the foreign community and prompting a rival editor to challenge him to a duel. Wood protected his honor when the challenger not only failed to show but actually fled the country. 45 Ever the romantic, Wood fell in love with Harriet Low and made frequent visits to Macao, ostensibly to give her drawing lessons. When he secretly asked for her hand in marriage, she, enthralled by this brilliant and energetic figure, readily accepted. Unfortunately, her uncle discovered the engagement and objected to his niece marrying a “penniless adventurer.” Wedding plans were canceled, and Wood spent the rest of his life as a bachelor. Years later, perhaps while he was managing a coffee and sugar plantation in Jala Jala, he would introduce photography to the Philippines, and some sources credit him with doing the same in China. 46 It was this side of William Wood, that of the romantic adventurer, that Dunn would find so useful.

Opting not to confine his efforts to the human realm, Dunn covered the flora and fauna of China as well. To amass a sizeable natural-history section for his collection, Dunn employed the skills and ingenuity of William Wood, granting the latter carte blanche to spend whatever sum was necessary to procure the finest zoological, botanical, and mineralogical specimens. Wood was well aware of the similar ambitions of the rival East India Company, and he must have relished this opportunity to assist the American David in his duel with the British Goliath. Here was a chance to help one man triumph over the largest and farthest-reaching commercial institution the world had ever known.

Of course, to Wood’s great vexation, he too was confined to Canton. “The empire abounds with subjects of the greatest interest to naturalists,” he wrote, “and it is to be regretted that the obstacles opposed to research by the Chinese government, render our knowledge of the subject so limited and imperfect.” Making the best of the situation, Wood employed a scheme that depended heavily on the Chinese to supply the bulk of the natural-history section. Through “industry, money, flattery,” “kindness,” and “subterfuge,” he was able to convince a team of Chinese agents to undertake field work.

These men were willing, but Wood feared that their work would not meet his standards. Convinced of the virtues of the Linnaean system, he judged the field of natural history in China to be both flawed and lacking in scientific rigor. “The ideas entertained by Chinese writers on the subject of animals are vague and imperfect, fable and absurdity being mingled in the strangest manner with truth and good sense,” he wrote. “They possess no systematic arrangement of animated beings, and commit the most glaring errors in classification.” To make sure that the agents followed correct procedures, Wood devoted considerable time and energy to their training in the proper handling of the specimens. After acquiring these skills, they fanned out, traveling “by land and water,” in search of birds, fish, reptiles, insects, shells, animals, plants, and rocks. On returning to Canton, many were able to present “new and interesting animals” to a pleased William Wood.

Wood supplemented their findings both by collecting specimens of fish on the China coast and by making accurate drawings of them. In addition, he sometimes secured interesting species in unlikely ways. For instance, since Chinese exhibitioners would often capture wild animals for their portable zoos, Wood would attend their shows and, at the conclusion, offer to buy the animals from the owner. In this fashion, he acquired both a boa constrictor and a wildcat. 55 Even after Dunn returned to the United States, Wood continued this collection service by shipping specimens to Philadelphia at a tremendous cost. Fortunately, only the moths and butterflies, it was said, suffered over the course of these transcontinental passages. In the end, the natural-history collection earned the approval of some of America’s top scientists, including Silliman, who praised Wood’s thoroughness: “Mr. Wood was indefatigable for many months in completing the herpetology of China; the conchology is fully represented,” and there are “some remarkably fine carbonates of copper, both nodular and radiated.” 56 The exertions of Wood and his Chinese agents helped stock an exhibit that, quite impressively, could stimulate the minds of naturalists in their special fields.”
  Bound in recent full red morocco, ruled in blind to spine and boards, black morocco spine label lettered in gilt, marbled endpapers.   Condition: Very good, pages toned, one or tow light markings scattered throughout, in fine binding.   Ref: 109617   Price: HK$ 8,000