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West Coast Rare Books

West Coast Rare Books

Westport / Ireland

Fortune, Yedo and Peking. A Narrative of a Journey to the Capitals of Japan and

Fortune, Yedo and Peking. A Narrative of a Journey to the Capitals of Japan and

Fortune, Robert. Yedo and Peking. A Narrative of a Journey to the Capitals of Japan and China. With Notices of the natural Productions, Agriculture, Horticulture, and Trade of those Countries, and other Things met with by the Way. First Edition. Not a Reprint. London, John Murray, 1863. 22 x 14 cm. xv, 395 pages. With 22 Illustrations including a folding frontispiece, a map and several full page plates (complete). New (2019) black cloth hard cover with gilt title on spine. New end papers. Very good condition. New binding and end papers. A little age darkened and occasionally mild foxing. Ex Libris on half title page (Betty Fortune, possibly related to the author?). Name of another previous owner (James Watson 1870) in ink on title page. Illustrations complete. Number 14 is facing page 116, not 161 as listed in book). A few mild stains, but overall a very nice and clean copy of this rare book. See images.

Robert Fortune (1812 – 1880) was a Scottish botanist, plant hunter and traveller, best known for stealing tea plants from China in the employment of the British East India Company. As a result of his mission success, the British gained a large profit and they were able to manufacture tea throughout the world.
Following the Treaty of Nanjing in 1842, Fortune was sent out by the Horticultural Society to collect plants in China. His travels resulted in the introduction to Europe of many new, exotic, beautiful flowers and plants. His most famous accomplishment was the successful stealing of Chinese tea plants from China to India in 1848 on behalf of the British East India Company. In total, Fortune stayed in China for about two and a half years, from 1848 to 1851.
Fortune disguised himself as a Chinese merchant during several, but not all, of his journeys beyond the newly established treaty port areas. Not only was Fortune’s purchase of tea plants forbidden by the Chinese government of the time, but his travels were also beyond the allowable day’s journey from the European treaty ports. Fortune travelled to some areas of China that had seldom been visited by Europeans, including remote areas of Fujian, Guangdong, and Jiangsu provinces.
Using small greenhouses, Fortune introduced 20,000 tea plants and seedlings to the Darjeeling region of India. He also illegally brought a group of trained Chinese tea workers who would facilitate the production of tea leaves. With the exception of a few plants which survived in established Indian gardens, most of the Chinese tea plants Fortune introduced to India perished. The technology and knowledge that was brought over from China, however, may have been instrumental in the later flourishing of the Indian tea industry.
In subsequent journeys he visited Formosa (modern day Taiwan) and Japan and described the culture of the silkworm and the manufacture of rice. He introduced many trees, shrubs and flowers to the West, including the cumquat, a climbing double yellow rose (‘Fortune’s Double Yellow’ which proved a failure in England’s climate) and many varieties of tree peonies, azaleas and chrysanthemums.
The incidents of his travels were related in a succession of books. He died in London in 1880 and is buried in Brompton Cemetery (Wikipedia).

Our price: EUR 580,-- 

Yedo and Peking. A Narrative of a Journey to the Capitals of Japan and China.
Yedo and Peking. A Narrative of a Journey to the Capitals of Japan and China.
Yedo and Peking. A Narrative of a Journey to the Capitals of Japan and China.
Yedo and Peking. A Narrative of a Journey to the Capitals of Japan and China.

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