ALLOM, Thomas [illustrator]. China, Its Scenery, Architecture, Social Habits, &c. Illustrated. London & Paris, Fisher, Son & Co., .
4to. Four volumes in two. Contemporary [publisher's?] green half-calf over marbled boards, spine with raised bands, elaborately ornamented in gilt, lettered in gilt; yellow endpapers; 4 steel-engraved titles and 124 steel-engraved views and genre scenes; a little wear to extremities; mainly marginal foxing to plates as usual, a good set.
First edition. An attractive and early series of views of China, including Macau, Hong Kong, Nanking, Canton and Beijing. The engravings are after original drawings by Thomas Allom, whose lasting reputation rests on his topographical steel-engravings. 'His China: in a series of views, displaying the scenery, architecture and social habits of that ancient empire [engraved titles] ..., with a letterpress by G. N. Wright, was the best-known nineteenth-century work on the subject, although he never visited the country and based his illustrations on the work of other artists' (ODNB).
The historical background for this lavish publication was the First Opium War, 1839-1842, which resulted in the Treaty of Nanjing in 1842. The treaty ceded Hong Kong island to the United Kingdom in perpetuity, and it established five treaty ports at Shanghai, Canton, Ningpo, Fuchow, and Amoy, places (including British bombardment or capture) which all feature heavily in Allom's book.
Lust, 363; Cordier 80-81.