This unassuming volume, bound in red cloth, is a beautiful example of commercial book publishing in the '30s. It is, in modern marketing parlance, "value added." Outside of select university presses, they just don't make books like this anymore.
In Search of Old Peking by L. C. Arlington and William Lewisohn was published in 1935. The front paste down and free endpaper boasts a two-color map of "Tours in the City and Suburbs of Peking." The rear paste down and free endpaper house a three-color map of Peking that unfolds to an impressive 21 by 24 inches. The rear endpapers show a map of "The Peking Plain."
The text is accompanied by folding maps and plans, photographs, and a clever tissue overlay map illustrating the Legation Quarter in 1900, and again in 1935.
Now considered a destination and chic place to go to eat, this is the area where most foreign legations were situated between 1861 and 1959. In the foreword of In Search of Old Peking, the authors decry not just mindless vandalism of the city they love, but also "converting historic palaces into modern restaurants and tea-houses..." There is no stopping progress, as we all know.
Peking was home to China's "Last Emperor" Puyi, the final ruler under the Qing Dynasty. The Forbidden City is covered extensively in In Search of Old Peking. By the time Arlington (pictured below) and Lewisohn published their book, the emperor had been living elsewhere for 11 years.
In Search of Old Peking has been reprinted three times, twice by Oxford University Press and once by Paragon Book Reprint Corporation. I don't have any of these reprints to compare to the original — even the reprints are sought after and can be expensive — but I have to wonder what became of the map endpapers, tissue overlay, and folding plates and maps of the original edition. Were they duplicated in some way in the reprints, or did production costs prohibit their inclusion?
I might never find out. Powell's hasn't had a reprint of this title in stock for several years. Those of you who prefer electronic editions of books are in luck, however — there is an eBook edition of In Search of Old Peking. It is called Gu Du Jiu Jing, and the text is in Chinese.