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The History of Java.

Stock Code 108182

London, Black, Parbury, and Allen; and John Murray, 1817

Original price $9,363.00 - Original price $9,363.00
Original price
$9,363.00 - $9,363.00
Current price $9,363.00
'In terms of the pictorial depiction of Javanese costume and topography, the importance of The History of Java can hardly be exaggerated. By a happy coincidence the British interregnum in Indonesia, which focused wider outside interest on this remote corner of Asia, threw up one of the most energetic British orientalists at a time when the English colour plate book, illustrated by the medium of aquatint, was enjoying its greatest vogue. The marriage of a scientifically original text with beautiful illustrations by an accomplished aquatint engraver resulted in a book about Indonesia of outstanding quality; indeed a masterpiece.' (Bastin & Brommer).

Though unsigned, the 10 hand-coloured aquatints depicting Javanese life and costume and the Papuan boy who accompanied Raffles to England in 1816 are by William Daniell, who was also responsible for many of the designs and drawings used in the book. Seven of the plates were engraved from oil paintings by Daniell, which are now in the British Museum.
Due to the fragile nature of the plates, this first edition was limited to 900 copies (650 copies only printed on plain paper, with a further 250 copies printed in royal 4to). It quickly sold out.

Raffles was appointed Lieutenant-Governor of Java in September 1811, which was a difficult position because of the large population, the many independent chiefs, and the fact that his government was subordinate to the governor-general in Bengal, to whom he had to apply for funds. However he set to his task with great industry, remodelling most areas of government, travelling extensively throughout Java and collecting information about the peoples, customs, geology etc., and by the end of June 1812 the whole of Java came under British rule. Lord Minto, Governor-General of India, adjudged Raffles "a very clever, able, active and judicious man, perfectly versed in the Malay language and manners", but he is chiefly remembered for securing for Britain the maritime supremacy of the eastern seas. Raffles was Lieutenant-Governor until 1816 and founded the city state of Singapore in 1819.

Contributions on the island's botany and geology were made by Thomas Horsfield, and chapters on Java's antiquities and temples, literature, history and economics were made by Indonesian, Dutch and British experts on Indonesia. Raffles's work was patterned on William Marsden's The History of Sumatra, 1811, but was intended to contrast British benevolence with the 'tyrannical and rapacious' policies of the Dutch.

The typography and fine illustrations are exceptional, and the work was judged by John Bastin, bibliographer of Indonesia, to be 'one of the most important and influential books about Indonesia ever published'.

First edition, 2 volumes, 4to, 64 etched or aquatint plates, of which one folding and 10 hand-coloured aquatint costume plates by William Daniell, watermarked 1816, 6 engraved vignettes, 2 large folding engraved maps (1 with repair to verso, 1 hand-coloured in outline), nineteenth century half calf, black morocco lettering piece, neat repairs to extremities, occasional light spotting to maps and engravings, a very good copy.

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