Shchepkin, Vasilii
Russian Academy of Sciences. Institute of Oriental Manuscripts. Researcher

Searching for Isaac Titsing’s legacy: Japanese early modern books in P. Schilling collection

Isaac Titsingh (1745-1812) was undoubtedly the most energetic and aspiring person among all heads of Dutch East-India Company trade factory in Nagasaki. His endeavor to compile a compendium on Japan made him an outstanding collector of Japanese books, which spread among institutions and individuals in Europe after his death. Paul Schilling (1786-1837) was on a par with Titsingh in energy and ambition. Employed mainly in diplomatic service, he was famed for his inventions in electro-magnetic engineering, including demolitions, communications and lithographing, but of the greatest interest for him was cryptography, which made him an enthusiast in Asian languages and scripts. While in Europe he collected a huge collection of books on Asian languages, including Japanese, and later donated them to the Asiatic Museum of the Imperial Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg. His autographic list of Japanese books and maps contains 32 items, and 12 of them are marked as being brought from Japan by Titsingh. I attempted to identify all these items among early modern Japanese books preserved at the Institute of Oriental Manuscripts at the moment, but this work was compounded by the fact that the titles of all items in Schilling’s list contain no characters and are written according to French pronunciation. Nevertheless, I have acquired some evidence that not only 12 items but at least some more could be brought from Japan by none but Titsingh as well. This work shed some new light on the interaction between European intellectuals relating to Japan in the first half of 19th century.