China in Print 2018: Hong Kong Rare Book, Photograph and Map Fair

Famous Chinese Warrior Tales, Illustrated by Eisen, 1980 (Kagerou Bunko) Famous Chinese Warrior Tales, Illustrated by Eisen, 1980 (Kagerou Bunko)

While technically a “fair”—that is, the items are for sale—China in Print is held at the Hong Kong Maritime Museum and does double duty as a free-to-the-public exhibition.

The name is something of a misnomer: items come from all over East Asia, as well as from Europe. Nor is everything, indeed, “in print”: a good portion of the pieces are one-of-kind manuscripts, letters, drawings, paintings and ship logs.

The Decades of the newe worlde or West India, Conteyning the nauigations and conquestes of the Spanyardes, with the particular description of the moste ryche and large landes and Ilandes lately founde in the west Ocean perteynyng to the inheritaunce of the kinges of Spayne (Douglas Stewart Fine Books)
The Decades of the newe worlde or West India (Douglas Stewart Fine Books)

Some books are considerable historical interest. The Decades of the newe worlde, dating from 1555, contain the first use of the word China in English (“The greate kynge of Chi­na, whose kyng is thought to bee the greatest prince in the worlde, and is named Santoa Raia.”). There is a 1596 edition of Historia de las cosas más notables, ritos y costumbres del gran reyno de la China by Juan González de Mendoza (first published in 1585 and discussed in The Silver Way: China, Spanish America and the Birth of Globalisation, 1565–1815, by Peter Gordon and Juan José Morales.

Hong Kong: View of Kowloon and Hong Kong Harbour, Charles Wirgman, c. 1857 (Wattis Fine Art)
Hong Kong: View of Kowloon and Hong Kong Harbour, Charles Wirgman, c. 1857 (Wattis Fine Art)
The Song of Songs called by many the Canticle of Canticles, Eric Gill (1925, Sophie Schneideman Rare Books)
The Song of Songs called by many the Canticle of Canticles, Eric Gill (1925, Sophie Schneideman Rare Books)

Other books contain, or rather are themselves, works of art, not all of which are Asian or even particularly old, some highlights being inter-War limited edition books made of wood engravings. There are maps, letters, notes (some by Karl Marx), fragments of scores (one by Beethoven), sketches and paintings (by Chinnery and Tingqua) and a great deal more.

Many of the items have prices to match their rarity and beauty, but entrance is free.

 

China in Print runs though 2 December at the Hong Kong Maritime Museum.