[BRIDGMAN, Elijah Coleman, editor and contributor]. THE CHINESE REPOSITORY. Vol. VII. From May, 1838, to April, 1839. Canton, Printed for the Proprietors, 1839 [reprinted by Maruzen in Tokyo, 1942].
8vo. Modern burgundy silk with gilt-stamped lettering piece, retaining the original light purple endpapers and reproducing the original Japanese binding, which was beyond repair; pp. vii, 656, [2, colophon in Japanese with seal printed in red], several pages with woodcut illustrations, printed on Japanese bamboo handmade kozo [melberry tree] paper, a few pages yellowed in the margins, otherwise a very clean and fresh copy.
This very rare Japanese reprint of the virtually unobtainable Guangzhou-printed English language periodical, published between May 1832 and 1851 to inform Protestant missionaries working in Asia about the history and culture of China, of current events, and political development, as well as filling them in on the cultural background of their host country. The world's first major journal of Sinology, it was the brainchild of Elijah Coleman Bridgman, the first American Protestant missionary appointed to China. Bridgman served as its editor until he left for Shanghai in 1847, but continued to contribute to the periodical. James Granger Bridgman succeeded as editor, until September 1848, when Samuel Wells Williams took charge. Bridgman was the first American China expert; who wrote as well a history of the United States in Chinese, translated for the Chinese government and was instrumental in elaborating the first treaty between the USA and China. The Repository was a very important paper which allowed the missionaries to keep informed about Chinese policies, trade and Imperial edicts, as well as giving them a cultural background of Chinese life and society. The numerous articles do not only deal with China proper, but with all east and southeast Asian regions, where there was Protestant missionary activity, i.e. Malacca, Penang, Singapore, Batavia, Java, Rangoon, Ambon and the Philippines. They cover a very wide range of subjects, from trade, opium (repeatedly and extensively), reviews of Chinese publications and Imperial edicts, Chinese shipping and seamen's friends associations, natural history, mythology, colonial and Catholic misionary history of the region (again, dealing with the Philippines), early attempts to contact secluded Japan and much more. Only one volume, but a treasure trove of information on China, Western-Chinese relations, and the entire region. - Most copies we heard about having been in the trade had rather 'problematic', brittle paper, whereas the present volume is printed on superior quality Japanese paper.
Why Maruzen reprinted the periodical during the height of the Second World War remains an object of speculation; however, the periodical reports as well on Japanese affairs before the Meiji periond, and maybe the Japanese military intelligence was interested in their enemies' perception and intellectual approach to the Far East.