Four very large woodblock printed folding plates, many tables & diagrams in the text. 2, 8, 19 folding leaves. Large 8vo (255 x 183 mm.), orig. aubergine semi-stiff patterned wrappers, orig. block-printed title label on upper cover, new stitching. [Japan]: 1857.
The very rare first edition in Japanese of an elaborate analysis of the muzzle-loading Minié rifle, an innovative French infantry weapon of the mid-19th century. The translator, Kosaburo Akamatsu (1831-67), was a rangaku scholar and an important military scientist. He translated several other Western military works. This is a translation of Booms’s Verhandeling over het schot der draagbare vuurwapens (1st ed.: 1855). Booms (1822-97) was a Dutch general and military historian.
After Commodore Perry’s two expeditions, the Japanese stockpiled Western weapons and amassed books on military strategy and weapons in preparation for a hostile invasion. Akamatsu was introduced to Western firearms and tactics in Nagasaki at a Dutch-influenced military academy.
Akamatsu directly translates Booms’s preface, then recapitulates numerous trials of the rifle’s accuracy. This is followed by comparisons of the Minié with rifles from other European nations. The Minié rifle was imported into Japan in large numbers, and it was one of the most prevalent firearms employed by Japanese soldiers.
The four folding plates, which are quite large for Japanese books, present minutely detailed schematics and cross-sections of the Minié rifle.
Fine and fresh copy. WorldCat locates only one copy in North America.
Item ID: 6703