Moveable Type or Woodblock?

Ojong Yuk chu yakson. Edited by King Chongjo.

Ten columns per page, 18 characters per column. 2, 37, 34, 1 (=74) folding leaves. Two parts in one vol. Small folio (350 x 228 mm.), orig. wrappers (wrappers rather rubbed & somewhat soiled), later stitching. [Jeolla Province: the Governor’s Office], from the colophon: July 1797.

A most uncommon Korean woodblock (?, see below) book, which reproduces the finest of the Korean moveable metal typefaces, the kabinja. “Selections from the memorials of Lu Chih (754-805), the great statesman of the T’ang dynasty. The selections were edited by King Chongjo in 1794 and first printed in mid-1797 by the Royal Printing Office with type from the kabinja font of 1777. It was from a copy of the movable-type edition that this woodblock edition was made by the Governor’s Office of Chollado.”–Fang, The Asami Library, 18.37.

Zhi Lu was chancellor during the reign of Emperor Dezong, who greatly valued Lu’s opinions. Lu left a large body of writings, mostly advice for the emperor on political matters and how to run the country. While he had a tumultuous political career, which ended in exile, Lu’s posthumous reputation was favorable.

Zhi Lu would have appealed to King Chongjo (1752-1800), one of the most intellectual and enlightened of the Korean monarchs. He was perhaps Korea’s greatest bibliophile and, as royal patron, supported all aspects of the book: typographers, printers, authors, librarians, and lexicographers. He founded the Kyujanggak Library in 1776, now part of the library of the Seoul National University.

In spite of Fang’s statement quoted above, the title-page states that this is a moveable type edition. And, indeed, the cataloguer of the Kyoto University copy can’t quite decide, after some considerable head-scratching, whether this is a moveable type or woodblock printing (though the cataloguer leans in the direction of the latter). The Kyoto University copy does not have the printed colophon on the final leaf (that section of the leaf is blank).

Very good copy. Minor soiling.

Price: $4,750.00

Item ID: 6813

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