Taisei shichikin yakusetsu [trans.: A Study of the Seven Metals of the West].
by BABA, Sajuro (or Sadayoshi).
Three double-page & one full-page illus. 37; 17; 25; 30; 26 folding leaves. Five vols. 8vo, orig. blue wrappers (a little rubbed), orig. block-printed title labels on upper covers, new stitching. [Japan]: 1854. First edition of this very rare work; it is "probably the first Japanese book on modern metallurgy" (Iida, see below); WorldCat describes only the 1977 reprint and a manuscript of the text at Harvard. "Taisei Shichikin Yakusetsu, the first Japanese literature representing the local understanding of modern European metallurgy, was written by Baba Sadayoshi (1787-1822), a scholar of western learning in the late Edo period, who first served as a Dutch interpreter in Nagasaki and later made important contributions to translation (from Dutch, Russian, English and so on) at the Temmon-kata [astronomy office] of the Bakufu [Shogunate] as bansho wage goyogakari [translator of western literature into Japanese]. The book was published in a limited issue of 200 copies in 1854, 33 years after Sadayoshi's death. Printed with wooden type, it is also regarded as an important landmark in the history of modern printing in Japan... "As its title indicates, the book consists of translated accounts of 'seven metals,' supplemented at the beginning with seven drawings illustrating western processes of smelting them. The whole work consists of five volumes, the first on gold, second on silver, copper and iron, third on tin and lead, and fourth and fifth on mercury, and states where, how and in what varieties each metal is yielded, how it is smelted, what properties it has and what purposes it is used for... "Perhaps because of Sadayoshi's own knowledge of and interest in medicine or because its compilation was supervised by Shibue Chohaku, a well-known herbalist of the day and Bakufu-retained physician, the book dwells in particular detail on the pharmaceutical effects and uses of the metals. Thus it is less a book on metallurgy than one on chemistry and pharmacy. I would like to note the fact that, in this first comprehensive book in Japan to introduce western knowledge on metals, the significance of the seven metals was primarily grasped as they related to the basis of people's everyday life, and above all the role of iron was given a due position."-Ken'ichi Iida, "Origin and Development of Iron and Steel Technology in Japan," on-line resource under the auspices of the Institute of Developing Economies, Japan External Trade Organization. Fine set. Occasional minor worming in margins, neatly mended. . (Inventory #: HillBibl-5419)
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