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Lot number: 36200
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Publisher: VON RICHTHOFEN, F.
Title: (Ortographische und geologische Karten. Erste Abtheilung: Das nördliche China.)
Published: Berlin, D.Reimer, 1885

Size: 18.9 x 22.8 inches.
48.0 x 58.0 cm.
Colouring: Original printed colours.
Condition:  Oblong imperial folio. Atlas with 26 coloured lithographed maps (all, 1 with some light spotting in margin, a few with soiled margins). Lacking text, index and one title. With upper wrapper and title to the second part of the atlas (wrapper with minor repaired tear in margin and repaired corner). Also with a pink advertisment paper for "Einband-Decke" and a 4-page prospect dated december 1884 and printed 1885. Later half cloth, slightly worn at corners. Rare.
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Very rare atlas of Northern China prepared by and during the lifetime of Ferdinand Freiherr von Richthofen. It is considered to be the first scientific atlas about China, and for a long period the only work of reference available.
Ferdinand Freiherr von Richthofen (5 May 1833 – 6 October 1905) who was a German traveler, geographer, and scientist, was born in Karlsruhe, Prussian Silesia, and was educated in Breslau and Berlin. He traveled or studied in the Alps of Tyrol and the Carpathians in Transylvania. In 1860, he joined the Eulenburg Expedition, a Prussian expedition which visited Ceylon, Japan, Taiwan, Celebes, Java, Siam, Burma between 1860 and 1862.
China was at the time inaccessible owing to the Taiping rebellion, but Richthofen was impressed with the desirability of exploring it.
From 1862 to 1868, he worked as a geologist in the United States, discovering goldfields in California.

Between 1868 and 1872 he traveled through 11 of the 18 provinces of China doing geographic and geologic research. His trip was partly funded by the Shanghai Chamber of Commerce and he compiled a series of reports for them on his travels which were printed in English in 1900 under the title Baron Von Richthofen’s Letters.
On one of his journeys during this period he traveled the entire Road to Shu via the Linking Cloud Road in the North and the Golden Oxen Road in the south. His record of this trip in English is contained in the compilation of his letters written for the Chamber of Commerce which was published in 1900.

After four years of travel and field work in China, he returned to Germany to teach and write his monumental geological treatise entitled "China, Ergebnisse eigner Reisen und darauf gegründeter Studien". In total the work consits of 5 text volumes and 2 atlases, published 1877-1885, three posthumous volumes appeared in 1911 and 1912 (the second atlas " Zweite Abtheilung : "das Südliche China" prepared by dr. Max Groll).
In this standard work, the author deals not only with geology but with every subject necessary to a general geographical treatise. Notably he paid close attention to the economic resources of the country he traversed.
It is considered to be the first scientific atlas about China, and for a long period the only work of reference avaliable.
"Der Atlas, ein exemplarisches Pionierwerk, leitete die orographische und geologische Kartendarstellung Chinas ein. Die einzelnen Blätter beruhen auf R. s eigenen Aufnahmen. In der Erforschung Chinas hat R. Unvergleichliches geschaffen” --- (Henze)

He also wrote a valuable series of letters to the Shanghai Chamber of Commerce, and first drew attention to the importance of the coalfields of Shantung, and of Kiaochow as a port.
In China he located the dried-up lake bed of Lopnur. He made also trips to Japan, Burma, and Java.

He was appointed professor of geology at the University of Bonn beginning in 1875, but being fully occupied with his work in China he did not take up professorial duties until 1879. He became professor of geography at the University of Leipzig in 1883, and professor of geography at the Friedrich Wilhelm University of Berlin in 1886. He occupied the latter position until his death.
His lectures attracted numerous students who subsequently became eminent in geographical work, and in order to keep in touch with them he established his weekly geographical “colloquium.”
Among his most famous students was Sven Hedin, the Swedish explorer/traveler in Mongolia and Tibet.

Von Richthofen was the first who coined the term “Silk Road” for China’s foreign trade routes and the term “Red Basin” for the hilly, red sandstone plain occupying much of eastern Sichuan. He was also the first to deduce that the origin of the loess soil deposits of north China was a fine Aeolian dust originally blown into China from the desert regions to the west and gradually deposited over many centuries.
He served as president of the German Geographical Society for many years and founded the Berlin Hydrographical Institute. He standardized the practices of chorography and chorology.
He died in 1905 in Berlin.

Provenance : The library of Swedish Sinologist, rare book collector and bookseller Björn Löwendahl (1941-2013).


Reference: Cordier I, 97. Henze IV, 613. Phillips 3191 (the first vol.). See also Löwendahl: China illustrata nova, 1489. Only the first atlas volume..

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Item category: Asia | China

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