DOCUMENTARY OF THE TRADITIONAL CHINESE SYSTEM OF PEDDLING, WITH 61 COLOR PRINTS AND 16 MOUNTED PHOTOGRAPHS
CONSTANT, Samuel Victor. Calls, Sounds and Merchandise of the Peking Street Peddlers. [Peking: Camel Bell, circa 1935]. Oblong octavo, original side-stitched silk cloth, orange paper cover label, mottled endpapers, French-folded leaves. Housed in a custom clamshell box. $4500.
First edition of this unusual documentation of Peking street-vendors, their instruments and their calls, illustrated with 61 color-printed lithographs, mounted paper cut-out and 16 mounted halftone photographs.
In China, a system of peddling grew up to bring goods to them, each peddler announcing his presence by a distinctive call. In partial fulfillment for the degree of Master of Arts from the California College in China, Samuel Constant documented these peddlers' calls and the callers themselves. "Some call out their wares in a musical voice or song calculated to please the hearer. Others have a loud or discordant cry which grates on the nerves as though the devil himself had something to sell." The color-printed lithographs are all two-paneled with the image of the peddler in one and either the musical instrument he used to accompany his call or the wares he sold in the other. The halftone photographs depict actual street-scenes and peddler "performances." Early issue, with original imprint inked over and "The Peking Bookshop / Grand Hotel des Wagons Lits / Peking" printed in ink on title page, and with Peking Bookshop label on rear pastedown.
Occasional light foxing, fragile original boards with only light wear to edges. A near-fine copy.