A Visit to the Philippine Islands - Sir John Bowring 1859 - Smith, London - First Edition A near fine and thus scarce copy of Bowring’s important and comprehensive work on the Philippines. Illustrated with eight full page tinted wood-engraved plates, four maps (one full page, three in text), four engravings in the text, and two double sided leaves of musical score for ‘Comintang de la Conquista (The Indian Song of The Philippines)’ to the rear.

Sir John Bowring [1792-1872], the fourth Governor of Hong Kong, explored the Philippine islands in 1858 with the aspiration of developing British trade relations with the Philippines. Escorted and attended by high-ranking Spanish officials, British envoys and native guides, Bowring visited cities and towns all over the islands, from its plains to its highlands, and conscientiously observed the social and economic situation of the country.

After a year, Bowring produced
A Visit to the Philippine Islands, a credible and detailed reference on the condition of the Philippines under Spanish rule. Containing his recollections and assessments of Philippine life, Bowring's memoir makes up one of the significant primary sources on Philippine history in the 19th century. [Vee Press]
  Reformer, intellectual, colonial governor, Sir John Bowring (1792-1872) was the archetype of the ambitious men who made Britain a leading global power in the nineteenth century. Born to a modest trading family, he showed an aptitude for languages which led him to literature, then to radical politics in the struggles for liberty in France, Spain and Greece. Taken up by the philosopher Jeremy Bentham, he became a figure in the literary world. But his emphasis was on action rather than theories. He became a high-profile advocate of free trade and a liberal foe of Karl Marx. As member of parliament he supported full suffrage and other radical causes. He modernised Britain’s public accounts, invented the florin as a first step to decimalization, and became an industrial entrepreneur. Losing his money in the 1848 slump, he took a job as consul in Canton, which led to the governorship of Hong Kong. As Britain’s Plenipotentiary in East Asia he negotiated a key treaty with King Mongkut of Siam but also started a war with China. His term as governor of Hong Kong was plagued with problems. But there as elsewhere he left a legacy of liberal ideas.

Provenance: Contemporary owners signature dated 1860 to half-title.

We have seen three variants of this work, with no noted precedence:
[i] Title page showing ‘
A Visit to the Philippine Islands’, additional half-title page, 24 pages of publishers advertisements to the rear dated November, 1859. Publisher’s green cloth, spine lettered in gilt ‘A VISIT TO THE PHILIPPINE ISLES.’ ‘BY’ ‘SIR J. BOWRING.’, and to tail ‘LONDON’ ‘SMITH ELDER & CO.’, without gilt vignette, front board with blank embossed floral pattern and gilt vignette of lady carrying fruit. No gilt to page edges. - Matching this copy.
[ii] Same as above but without advertisements to the rear.
[iii] Title page showing ‘
The Philippine Islands’, no half-title page, no advertisements to the rear. Publisher’s green cloth, spine with gilt vignette of long thin stem supporting the fruit basket similar to the one on the front board, lettered in gilt ‘A VISIT TO THE PHILIPPINE ISLES’ ‘SIR J. BOWRING’ and without publisher’s name to tail, front board with simple embossed line pattern and gilt vignette of lady carrying fruit, all edges gilt. - As referenced in Abbey Travel (Abbey’s copy is in a later binding, so of no use for details of original binding).

References: Howgego,
Continental Exploration B66. Abbey Travel 560. Pardo de Tavera, Biblioteca filipina 402. ‘Free Trade’s First Missionary’ Hong Kong University Press. Not in Cox or Hill.

Octavo (23.2 x 15.4 cm) pp. vi [2] 434 [4 (Music Score)] [2] 24 (Publisher’s Ads). Collated 6/6/2017.
  Condition: Near fine, some foxing to the plates and foredge.   Ref: 108778   Price: HK$ 11,000