Harper and Brothers, 1863. FIRST U.S. EDITION. Hardcover. Handsome, dark brown octavos, original tooled cloth with embossed figure of Japanese Dragon on each volume's front board. Striking gilt, almost copper-like lettering to tooled spine. A bit of shelf-rubbing to several corners and to spine caps, more on Vol. II. All pages, illustrations, & both fold-out maps present in this very tight, unmarked set. Rear hinge just barely starting, and short (less than 1 in.) closed tear to one of the foldout maps. NEAR FINE. Item #64686
Sir Rutherford Alcock, "Her Majesty's Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary in Japan" (essentially a Consul-General), was the first British diplomat to live in Japan, serving as special envoy from 1859 to 1861, when Japan was still hostile to outsiders, from the European incursion three centuries previous -- so much so that Alcock's interpreter was killed; Alcock's entire party fought off at least one other serious attack . Among his many experiences as a pioneer in western-eastern relations (where, despite his language and cultural studies, as a westerner he encountered mistrust and even violence) Alcock was the first non-Japanese to ascend Mt. Fuji (1860), was President of the Royal Geographical Society, and a trained physician after whom was even named Alcock's Canal, a bonafide part of the human anatomy.