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Handbook of China (1918)

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C.B. 774, Copy No. 324


The extremely rare 1918 edition of volume one of the British Naval Staff Intelligence Division Handbook of China. (The two other volumes were: Handbook of China Vol. II - Kiangsu and Handbook of China Vol. III - Kwangtung, which were published in 1918 and 1919). Classified as secret, and with a very restricted, individually numbered circulation, this handbook was produced during WW1 for official use only. This is copy number 324. Its use was covered by the Official Secrets Act. It is a detailed survey of the current information about the topography, history, people, language and dialects, government and administration, military administration, colonial influences, customs, climate, religion, economy, railways, waterways, transport, agriculture, natural resources, communications and industry of China in 1918. The handbook also includes a very extensive vocabulary section at the rear, with over 200 pages of useful words and phrases.

There is a map pocket at the rear of the volume which holds 8 folding maps. These are a very rare complete set of the maps that originally came with the 1919 third volume of the series: Handbook of China - Kwangtung. These maps include: Hoihow and Kungchow (30 x 41cm), Swatow (30 x 41cm), Pinghai (21 x 29cm), Wuchow (21 x 31cm), Samshoi (26 x 32cm), Canton (20 x 30cm), Province of Kwangtung (39 x 59cm), and Pakhoi (32 x 41cm). The 1916 Inland Mission Map of China listed in the contents of Volume I - criticised for its innaccuracy in a note at the start of the volume - is missing.

Naval Staff Intelligence Department: The Naval Intelligence Division (NID) was created as part of the Admiralty War Staff in 1912, and was the intelligence arm of the British Admiralty before the establishment of a unified Defence Intelligence Staff in 1964. It dealt with matters concerning British naval plans, and with the collection of naval intelligence. It was also known as "Room 39", after its room number at the Admiralty. The department produced a series of handbooks during WW1 to aid the allied war effort and provide intelligence for officers in all branches of the armed services.


In good condition. The cover is in good condition, with general signs of wear and some marks. The volume has been professionally recased, with a new spine and endpapers, retaining the original front and rear boards. The wrap-around front flap has been removed at some point in the past. The binding and hinges are very good and secure. The text is in very good condition, with a few marks, and a pencil signature and the letters 'I.D. 1223' on the front endpapers. The 1916 Map of China listed in the contents is missing. There is a map pocket at the rear of the volume which holds 8 folding maps - these are the maps that originally came with the 1919 third volume of the series, Handbook of China - Kwangtung - and they are in very good condition.

Published: 1918
Blue boards with with gilt titling
Dimensions: 130mm x 185mm
Pages: 507 (plus 8 folding maps at rear)