Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

A German physician and naturalist, Kaempfer went to Japan with the East India Company in 1689 but it was not until after his death and the acquisition of his papers by Sir Hans Sloane, that this major work was
translated (by J.G. Scheuchzer) and published in 1727-28.

A copy which made £3800 was an issue containing the first printing of the second appendix, an account of an English voyage of 1673, but some of the 45 double-page or folding plates were cropped into the image or otherwise marked, and it was an earlier issue, lacking the second appendix but a large paper example with only minor spotting to the margins, which brought a bid of £6500 from Remingtons. A good, clean copy of the Dutch edition of 1733 was sold for £2600.

Illustrated bottom right is one of a dozen coloured engraved and aquatinted plates from an 1822 Ackermann edition of Isaac Titsingh’s Illustrations of Japan... which sold at £5700 to Maggs. Titsingh, a VOC official, spent 30 years in the Far East and was regarded by both the Chinese and Japanese as being someone who had a depth of knowledge and understanding of their culture rarely aspired to by Europeans, but at his death, in 1812, his papers and collections were scattered and only a portion were subsequently recovered and posthumously published – initially in French and in this, more heavily illustrated, English version by Frederic Schoberl.