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Risho. - [Hanabi Hiden-shu].

Osaka? [1817 or c1825?]. 15x9.5cm later but not so recent wrapper; 37 leaves (ie leaves 3 to 39 of 39); woodcut illustrations, some full page. Stained throughout; missing the title which was inside the cover, first two leaves (preface and frontispiece) and colophon leaf. ¶ A horrible and incomplete copy admittedly but this, the first - and only, for a long time - Japanese book on fireworks, is so rare that even this copy was a delight to find after many years of looking. The text is complete. It is often dated confidently to 1817 but CiNii and Waseda - the only places I can find copies - are not certain enough to assign a date. Philip's 'Bibliography of Firework Books' does list it but only from a translation of the Kokusho Somokuroku (the national bibliography of books before 1867) entry provided to him by the British Library. There it is dated c1825 and Philips notes that no more than six copies are extant in Japanese libraries. I can add that Waseda's copy is missing its title leaf but looks much nicer than this copy. The title translates as firework secrets and, like many trades, the secrets were kept in the trade. Until this book and for at least another fifty years the secrets of fireworks were held in manuscripts. The attrition rate for a book like this with an audience of black-thumbed, fire-prone pyrotechnists must have guaranteed not too many secrets leaked out. *Be assured that the black mark shown on one page is not mould. The damage to the book is long done and there is no sign that the paper is degrading.
AUD 1500.00 [Appr.: EURO 911.25 US$ 964.63 | £UK 791 | JP¥ 144091] Book number 10749

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