Wanderings in Burma - George W. Bird, Felice Beato (photographer) 1897 - F. J. Bright & Son / Simpkin, Bournemouth / London - First Edition A beautiful copy of this large and detailed work, mostly unopened, scarce in any condition.

Essentially the first ‘guidebook’ to Burma, profusely illustrated throughout with 68 black and white plates many from photographs by Felice Beato, together with a large folding colour map in the pocket at the rear, and 19 further maps and plans, three of which are folding.

George W. Bird was an educational service official with twenty years residence in Burma. This work is arranged in two parts: the first giving a general introduction to Burma, and the second describing twenty-four ‘routes’ or excursion tours throughout Burma with a description of the main sights and practical travel advice - ‘
the best way to get expeditiously to May Myo from Mandalay is to ride. With two ponies, and a bullock-cart for servants and kit, the journey up can be comfortably made in two days’.
  Felice Beato (1832-1909) arrived in Burma probably in December 1886, after Upper Burma had been annexed by the British in late 1885. Much publicity had been made in the British press about the three Anglo-Burmese Wars, which had started in 1825 and culminated in December 1885 with the fall of Mandalay and the capture of King Thibaw Min.

Beato, who had covered military operations in India and China, was probably attracted by the news of the annexation. While he arrived in Burma after the main military operations ended, he would still get to see more of the action, as the annexation by the British led to an insurgency which lasted for the following decade. This allowed Beato to take a number of pictures of British military in operations or at the Royal Palace, Mandalay, as well as insurgency soldiers and prisoners.

Felice Beato set up a photographic studio in Mandalay. His past experience and the credibility derived from his time in Japan brought him a large clientele of opulent locals, posing in traditional attire for official portraits. Other images, from Buddhas to landscapes and buildings, were sold from master albums in Burma and Europe.

In 1896, Trench Gascoigne published some of Beato’s images in
Among Pagodas and Fair Ladies and, the following year, Mrs Ernest Hart’s Picturesque Burma included more, while George W. Bird in his Wanderings in Burma not only presented thirty-five credited photographs but published a long description of Beato’s businesses and recommended visitors to come by his shop. By that time, Beato’s photographs had come to represent the very image of Burma to the rest of the world, which it would remain for decades to come. As his curios business developed, with branches in Rangoon, Mandalay but also in Colombo and London, he also acquired the Photographic Art Gallery in Mandalay in 1903, another photographic studio.

In his old age, Felice Beato had become an important business party in Colonial Burma, involved in many enterprises from electric works to life insurance and mining. Scott O’Connor used a number of these images in his two books,
The Silken East in 1904 and Mandalay and Other Cities of the Past in Burma in 1907, popularising Beato’s work to an even larger extent.

References: Herbert,
Burma: Bibliography 81. Schwertner, Burma Bibliographical Project O5.

Large octavo (book size 26.9 x 19.2 cm) pp. [16] 410 [2] iv (index) [2]. In publisher's green cloth, ruled in blind, lettered in gilt to title and front board, gilt vignette of pagoda blocked in gilt to front board, bevelled edges, top edge gilt others untrimmed, pale green floral patterned endpapers, half pocket to rear of card and matching floral patterned paper. Without the errata slip that has been seen with some copies.
  Condition: Light foxing to prelims and last few pages, else fine, mostly unopened and uncut.   Ref: 109405   Price: HK$ 22,000