The books record ceramics from the collection of William Thompson Walters (1820-1894) who was a celebrated devotee of art. William Walters was appointed Art Commissioner from the United States to the Paris Exposition Universelle of 1867 and 1878, and to the Vienna exposition in 1873. The text is written by Stephen Wootton Bushell (1844-1908), a physician to the British legation in Beijing whose writings made him one of the most important foreigners in promoting the understanding of Chinese ceramics in the Victorian period. In 1883, he was appointed by the Victoria and Albert Museum to buy Chinese ceramics, and in total Bushell purchased 240 pieces for the museum.
The present set of books is numbered thirteenth from a total of 500 copies as stated on its frontispiece, although it is unknown exactly how many editions were printed. As with the limited editions of privately published books on jades by Heber Bishop, dated to 1906 and in which Stephen Bushell also contributed, the majority of 'Oriental Ceramic Art' books were given to major institutions, heads of state and friends of the collector. Since their numbers are scarce, the present set of books are considered among the most coveted books on Chinese ceramics.