Rare map of Tientsin, China, issued at the dawn of the Republic

Printed at Chung-Tung Litho Works Tientsin, MAP OF TIENTSIN. Tientsin [Tianjin], 1912.
Lithograph printed in colors, 39”h x 26 ¾”w at neat line plus margins. Minor wear along a few folds, considerable creasing.

A rare map of Tientsin (Tianjin) China, published during or just after the 1911-1912 revolution that toppled the Qing Dynasty and ushered in the Chinese republic.

Today one of China’s largest cities, Tianjin is advantageously located at the head of the Bohai Gulf, thus well positioned to serve as the gateway port to Beijing. For the purposes of the present map, the signal event in its history was the 1858 Treaty of Tientsin, signed by Britain, France and China during the Second Opium War. This opened Tientsin to trade with the West and authorized the British and French to establish “concessions” in the city: more-or-less autonomous zones with their own schools, hospitals, and (foreign) garrisons. In the 1890s additional concessions were opened by Japan, Germany, Russia, Austria-Hungary, Italy and Belgium. The concession system endured, albeit with disruptions during the Boxer Rebellion and the First World War, until the Japanese occupation during the Second World War.

This large, well-printed and attractive map depicts Tientsin some time in 1912. The old Chinese city is at center left, colored brown, with its hybrid layout of north-south and east-west axes overlaid on a tangle of densely-packed streets. The European concessions are shown along the Hai River in the lower-right quadrant, colored by nationality. For the most part the map’s text is written in Japanese using Chinese characters (“kanji”), suggesting that the Japanese were the primary market. Perhaps to broaden the map’s appeal, though, European lettering and languages are used in places, particularly in the concessions.

The map uses a surprising variety of symbols, defined in the title panel at upper right, to convey a very great deal of information:

First row of symbols (from left to right)
Large, medium, and small roads; defensive structures; railroads; trolley lines; rivers; lakes; iron bridges; wooden bridges; ferry stops

Second row of symbols
Consulates; army bases; police departments; churches; schools; temples; cemeteries; kilns; agricultural fields, and forests

The table at lower left lists the territorial extent and demographics of the city of Tientsin and the individual foreign concessions.

A note in the lower left margin indicates that the first edition of the map appeared in Meiji 43, or 1910, and that the present map is from the third edition. The map was printed locally by the Chung-Tung Lithographic Works, and we are aware of later editions from 1927, 1930 and 1936, though there likely others. Chung-Tung also produced a “Map of Peking” (Beijing) in 1914.

OCLC 52748001 (Columbia, Library of Congress, Stanford) and 495089358 (Bibliotheque nationale de France ).

Offered in partnership with James Arsenault & Company, Arrowsic, Maine.