Signed Chairman Mao first edition


Our 16th March Fine Art & Antiques auction includes a fresh-to-auction 1938 signed first edition of ‘On Protracted War’ by Mao Zedong / Tse-tung (Chairman Mao).  Mao’s signature is incredibly rare and highly sought-after, and this is an early example from the war-torn period before the foundation of the People’s Republic of China.   The volume was bought by the vendor’s left-wing grandfather from the British Communist Party in 1950, and remained undiscovered in a drawer until very recently when the vendor’s own father died. 


Mao Zedong / Tse-tung, also known as Chairman Mao, was the Communist revolutionary founder of the People’s Republic of China, which he led as chairman of the Chinese Communist Party from 1949 until his death in 1976.  During the early part of the Chinese Civil War (begun in 1927), Mao was appointed commander-in-chief of the Red Army and developed guerrilla tactics influenced by the works of ancient military strategists such as Sun Tzu.   After the Manchurian Incident of 1931 and full-blown Japanese invasion in 1937, Mao’s troops allied with their former enemies to form a united front against the Japanese.   From his base in Yan'an, Mao authored several texts for his troops, including Philosophy of Revolution, which offered an introduction to the Marxist theory of knowledge; Protracted Warfare (this volume), which dealt with guerrilla and mobile military tactics; and On New Democracy, which laid forward ideas for China's future.


This rare original Chinese publication of Mao’s lectures regarding the war with Japan, which were undertaken in May and June 1938 at the Yenan Association for the Study of the War of Resistance Against Japan, bears his signature to the front cover and comprises 98 numbered pages followed by errata page, with fold-out tables for Anti-Japanese strategies and defence teams.   It was clearly hurriedly published and the pages remain uncut at the bottom. 


The volume is sold with a signed letter from author and Secretary of the British Communist Party’s International Department Jack Woddis (1914-1980) dated 1950 and stating;

Dear Mr. Beeson, Many thanks for the seven guineas. I enclose a copy of Mao Tse-Tung's "Protracted War" with his signature written on the side of the cover.  I am sure that this signed book will be a rare acquisition on your part, and I can assure you that the seven guineas will be put to good use in promoting Anglo-Chinese friendship.  Yours sincerely,  Jack Woddis”.


Jack Woddis (1914-1980) was the British-born son of Polish Jewish emigree who had fled the pogroms of the Imperial Russian Empire.  He joined the Communist Party Hendon branch in 1937 and went on to write extensively about neo-colonialism and internationalism.  He worked as secretary of the Communist Party’s International Department for many years as well as being a member of the executive and various political committees.


The book has remained (mostly forgotten about) in the vendor's family since its purchase in 1950.   Examples of Mao's signature are extremely rare, with only a handful of examples coming to auction in the last decade.  It will be available to view on the Thursday and Friday prior to the 16th March auction.  Extra images are on the lot detail and available upon request.   



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