MENNIE, Donald [photographer, and Putnam WEALE [text]. The Pageant of Peking. Shanghai, A. S. Watson, 1920.
Folio. Original blue silk over boards with bevelled edges; lettered in gilt, ornamented in the moiré weaving, fore edge uncut, silk marker (detached); pp. viii, 40, , , 66 tipped in tinted photogravures with captions printed on versos of mounting paper, title printed in red and black, initials in red and black in the text, all on high-quality wove paper by Abbey Mills, Greenfield Valley, the most prestigious paper mill in Wales; minimal rubbing to silk, a few minor spots mainly to margins of text; provenance: gift inscription dated Shanghai, January 1st, 1921, to front fly-leaf.
First edition, number 716 of a total print-run of 1000. Donald Mennie was born in Scotland in 1875/6 and emigrated as a businessman to China around 1899. Like many Westerners he fell in love with the beauty of the country and started to take photographs. His other photobook, The Grandeur of the Gorges (1926) led to Mennie being proposed as a member of the Royal Geographic Society. Mennie died in 1944 and his name is found listed in the records of British internees at Lunghwa internment camp, Shanghai. Mennie most likely employed the wet plate process, already a largely obsolete method in his time, and for his published prints he mostly employed photogravure, a process emphasizing the softness of the image and subtle tonal variation that suited his interest in pictorialism.
The binding, which is much less rubbed than usually encountered, has one little fault, an accident which happened in the bindery. The plate for the gilt-lettering was imprinted twice, once one centimetre off-centre leaving a blind impression and once properly with gold and well-centred.