ANDRÉ EVERARD VAN BRAAM HOUCKGEEST (1739-1801)
Voyage de l'Ambassade de la Compagnie des Indes Orientales Hollandaises, vers l'empereur de la Chine, dans les années 1794 & 1795. Philadelphia: M.L.E. Moreau de Saint-Mery, 1797-1798. 2 volumes 4° (268 x 210mm). Large engraved folding map of China, large engraved folding plan of Macao after de Guignes, by Vallance, 8 (of 12) engraved plates by A.P. Folie and Seymour. (Scattered spotting, engravings browned, tears to Qq1 and Tt3 in vol. 2 with marginal loss, short tears to folding plates.) Contemporary calf gilt, by J. Bohn, Greek scroll and rules to sides, spines with black morocco labels, gilt in compartments with lyre and trumpet tool (rubbed).
THE RARE FIRST EDITION of this important source on 18th-century China. Braam Houckgeest had taken American citizenship in 1784, and is thus perhaps one of the first Americans to visit China. The work, dedicated to George Washington, describes the mission sent by the Dutch East India Company to congratulate the Chinese emperor on the 60th anniversary of his government. It includes a two-sheet folding map of China, a long description, with folding plan, of Macao, an explanation of the Chinese game of chess, and a paraphrase of Chon-fon-kau, possibly only the third work of Chinese theatre in a European language. A number of piracies of Braam Houckgeest appeared soon after publication, but these, and their translations, are all based on the text of volume 1 only, and reproduce none or very few of the illustrations. The English edition of 1798 includes one map, and the Dutch edition includes only 4 plates. American engravers, including John Vallance, were used for the illustrations. Landwehr calls for 12 plates but most copies show a smaller number; the copy in the Library of Congress, as the present copy, was bound with 8 plates. Cordier Sinica 2350; Landwehr 547; Lust 504.