Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - April - 2013 Issue

Japan Is the Subject for Gert Jan Bestebreurtje Rare Books

Japanesedoll

The Adventures of a Japanese Doll.

By 1910, Japan had become an important naval power and trading partner. Still, many in the West regarded the country as something of a backwater. To try to counter such misconceptions, the nation heavily supported an exhibition in Britain, the Japan-British Exhibition of 1910. No expense was spared in displaying Japanese culture, including bringing an entire Japanese Garden to the site. While officially a joint exhibition between the nations, the displays were primarily Japanese. Highest quality goods were shown to counter the prevailing view that “made in Japan” meant poor quality. Item 23 is a guide put out by the Kyoto Exhibitors' Association to the Japan-British Exhibition. Along with general information and a list of exhibitors, it contains information about temples and other notable places in Kyoto and the city's industries. €275 (US $359).

This book is marginally Japanese, though its title certainly qualifies for this catalogue: The Adventures of a Japanese Doll. This is a children's book written and illustrated by Henry Mayer in 1901. Mayer was born in Europe, made his way to Mexico, then Texas, and eventually settled in Chicago, where he was an illustrator and caricaturist. If he had any connection with or particular knowledge of Japan, it is unclear. The story has somewhat of a Pinocchio-like plot, the doll, Ting-a-ling, having been created by the doll maker Chung-wa. As a review on the University of Florida website points out, these are Chinese names, not Japanese. Whatever, Ting-a-ling takes off on a balloon and travels the world, visiting such places as Germany, South Africa, Egypt, Switzerland, and the American West. This book is particularly noted for its charming illustrations. Item 25. €225 (US $293).

Gert Jan Bestebreurtje Rare Books may be reached at +31 (0)347 322 548 or info@gertjanbestebreurtje.com. Their website is www.gertjanbestebreurtje.com.

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