2 p.l., 192 pp. 8vo, orig. green sheep-backed marbled boards (boards a little wormed), spine gilt (Western style). “Te Dordrecht, bij Blusse en van Braam, 1854. Nagedrukt te Nagasaki in het 4de Haar van Ansei (1857.”
First edition printed in Japan; one of a very few Nagasaki ban, printed on Japanese paper using metal type and bound Western-style in Nagasaki by the Japanese government in the earliest years of the resumption of Western printing in that country. We find no copy of our Nagasaki imprint in WorldCat. All Nagasaki ban are rare, and this is the first “Nagasaki ban” we have seen on the market. Our edition can also be described as a Nishi yakusho ban, meaning a book printed by the Nagasaki (West) city government.
When Western printing ceased in all of Japan in the early years of the 17th century, the technology of letterpress printing with metal type died in that country. It was revived again more than 200 years later by Motoki Shozo, Japan’s Gutenberg. “In 1848 a printing press and fonts of Dutch type arrived in Nagasaki on a ship of the Dutch East India Company. They were purchased in the same year by Motoki Shozo (1824-1875) and three other Dutch interpreters in the employ of the Bakufu in Nagasaki, and in 1851-2 Motoki managed to print Ranwa tsuben, a simple Dutch-Japanese dictionary. He used the Dutch type he had purchased and some crude Japanese katakana type he had cast for the purpose, but it is not clear what stimulated his interest in typography or how he managed the casting and printing processes. In 1855 the Nagasaki city commissioner purchased his press and applied to the Bakufu for permission to use it for the publication of books. Permission was granted not only to publish but also to seek more equipment from Holland, and between 1856 and 1859 several Dutch books were printed on this press in Nagasaki under Motoki’s direction, including an introduction to natural science, and these have been described as the first ‘modern’ books produced in Japan, for they were bound in Western style. This press was joined in 1857 by another brought to Deshima by the Dutch East India Company, which was used there by the Company’s representatives to print at least eight items between 1857 and 1862.”–Kornicki, The Book in Japan, p. 164.
After the opening of Japan in 1854, there was a sudden increase in demand for books in Dutch, as it was at the beginning the main language of communication between the Japanese and foreigners. But soon enough, the intelligentsia and rangakusha in Japan realized English was becoming the most important European language. The Japanese solution was to learn English through Dutch. To that end, Roelof van der Pijl’s English learner and grammar, printed in Dordrecht in 1854, was reprinted in Nagasaki.
Our edition is the first of the Nagasaki ban to state on the title-page that it was printed in that city.
Fine copy, preserved in a chitsu. Some worming here and there, touching some letters.
❧ Christopher Joby, The Dutch Language in Japan (1600-1900) (Brill: 2021), pp. 105, 195-201, & 407-410.
Item ID: 7949