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Stock# 75579

Ogilby's Embassy to China.

A nice example of the second edition in English of Johan Nieuhof's definitive account of the Dutch embassy to Peking, published by John Ogibly in London in 1673.

In the first half of the 17th century, the VOC tried to break the Portuguese monopoly position on trade to Macau. When they did not succeed, they sent six embassies to Peking between 1655 and 1685. Their aim was to convince the Qing emperor to open up trade relations on the southern coast, in favor of the VOC, although they ultimately failed. Nieuhof was appointed to the position of steward on one of these embassies by Joan Maetsuycker, which traveled from Canton to Peking between 1655 and 1658. They were the second embassy to try and gain the emperor's favor, the first was led by Zacharias Wagenaer. Nieuhof's duties as part of the embassy primarily consisted of ceremonial matters as well as securing lodgings. He was, however, specifically appointed to illustrate any and all of the cities, palaces, temples, rivers, and other noteworthy buildings in their true-to-nature form.

The fine plates and illustrations depict town views in China, Tibet and Tartary, and also illustrate costume and natural history. Ogilby's translation, first published in 1669, includes excerpts from Kircher's China monumentis (1667).

Though credited to Ogilby, the translations were presumably commissioned rather than done by him.


1. A description of China / taken by the author Mr. Iohn Neuhoff in his journeys with the Batavian ambassadours, from Canton to the Emperours court at Peking; W. Hollar fecit
2. The groundplot & forme of ye palace or imperial court in Peking / W. Hollar fecit, 1669
3. The city of Batavia
4. The castle of Batavia
5. Paulo Tymon
6. Makou
7. Heytamon
8. The groundplat of Kanton
9. Kanton
10. A royal feast for entertainment of the ambassadors without the Citly at Canton
11. Sahu
12. Xantsin
13. Mountaines of Sang-Won-Hab
14. Mongley
15. Suchu
16. Suytjeen
17. Nangan
18. Kinnungam
19. Ucienjen
20. Hukoen or Hukeu
21. Anhing
22. Ufu
23. Pagode or Temple of Paolinx
24. Nanking
25. Jejenienen
26. Jamcefu
27. Paoing
28. Siampu
29. Jaxhinno
30. Tuncham
31. Teywanmiao
32. Xantsui
33. The bridge from mountaine to mountaine in the Provence of Xensi, called the Flying Bridge
34. Tonnau
35. Sinkicien
36. Single
37. Tiencienwey
38. Peking
39. Prospect of ye inner court of the Emperours Palace at Pekin / W. Hollar f.
40. Kiangsi
41. Namhung
42. Faesan
43. Lantam

Condition Description
Folio. Contemporary calf with covers ruled in blind (covers worn and rebacked with modern leather). Spine in seven compartments separated by raised bands, title piece in the second. [4] pages, [2] leaves, 431, [3] pages, [17] leaves of plates, [2] double leaves of plates: 70 illustrations, 43 engraved maps, including 2 double. (Evidence of removed bookplate from front pastedown. Two inscriptions dated 1898, including one on the title referring to "... Consul de France Hankow 1898" and another in French referring to the book's purchase in China.)
Lust 536; Wing N-1153 (see Landwehr 543; Lowndes 1719; Wing D-242).
John Ogilby Biography

John Ogilby (1600-1676) was an English geographer and publisher, one of the most prominent of the seventeenth century. Little is known of his early life but by 1619 he was apprenticed to John Draper, a dancing-master in London. He worked as a dancing-master, courtier, and theater owner form 1620-1641. From 1649 he worked as a poet, translator, and publisher of classical texts. It is only in the last decade of his life that he entered into geography.

In 1649, Ogilby published his first translation, of Virgil, and continued to put out translations in the 1650s and 1660s. In March 1661 he was reconfirmed as master of revels in Ireland and appointed master of the king’s imprimeries, or king’s printer. From 1662 to 1665 he was in Ireland, where he most likely met Robert Boyle. He returned to London only to lose much of his printing stock in the Great Fire of 1666. Post-fire, he became assistant surveyor to the city, where he met Robert Hooke and Christopher Wren.

In 1669, Ogilby published Embassy to China. At the same time, he planned to release atlases that would cover the entire world. These atlases would be funded via subscriptions, advertisements, and lotteries—all common practice at the time, especially for expensive multi-volume works. He released Africa and Atlas Japannensis in 1670, America in 1671 and Atlas Chinensis in 1671, and Asia in 1673. Ogilby compiled the works based on materials produced by others and they reflect a growing interest in the wider world within England.

In 1671, while producing the atlases, Ogilby secured another royal title, that of his Majesty’s cosmographer. He used this title when publishing Britannia in 1675, his best-known work. The Britannia is best described as a road atlas; it shows 2519 miles of road in 100 strip maps. This technique would be widely adopted in the subsequent century. His method of measuring with a waywiser, a large wheel, also helped to standardize the distance of the English mile at 1760 yards. The Britannia was a major achievement in early English cartography and was republished in 1698, 1719, and 1720.