His courtesy name was Yiwen and pen name was Luyin. His ancestral hometown was Changtang in Shexian County, Anhui Province, so his family was called Changtang Bao's family. His father Bao Sixu married Miss Gu in Hangzhou and then moved to Hangzhou. Bao Tingbo once moved to Yangshubang South Village in Qingzhen.
There have been a large number of book collectors and libraries in Zhejiang since ancient time. There were four famous libraries in Tongxiang in the Ming and Qing dynasties, namely, Jiale Building of Yang's family in Puyuan, Qiuzhu Building of Wang's family in Wutong, Tiangai Building of Lyu's family in Chongde and Zhibuzu Zhai of Bao Tingbo's family in Wuzhen. The book collection of Bao’s library was considerable. There were 30 collections and 207 categories of Zhibuzu Zhai Series compiled by Bao Tingbo and his descendants. The collection covered historical research, arithmetic books, stone, calligraphy and painting, geography, poetry and literary works, bibliography and so on. It was one of the most famous large-scale series books in ancient China, and it was called a good book in the world.
Bao Tingbo's collection of books was sourced from purchase or copy. After the fame of his love for books spread widely, numerous sellers came from all over the world; wherever he heard that people sell books, he must go to purchase. He and the famous libraries at that time, such as Xiaoshan Tang of Erlin Zhao, Zhenqi Tang of Wang's, Pinghua Zhai of Wu's and Shousong Tang of Sun's, made mutual copying agreements. Bao Tingbo always took pains to copy their good books, rare books and solitary books in person.
Bao Tingbo was good at edition catalogue, and his long-term search enhanced his appreciation. He was able to tell the whole story of the books he came to purchase, and even knew the mistakes in them. Renowned scholar Ruan Yuan remarked Bao Tingbo “he has read all kinds of books and has collected ten thousand volumes. Even for a book people rarely know, he knows it very well” However, Bao Tingbo modestly named his library Zhibuzu Zhai with the meaning of "Learning and then knowing one's shortcomings" according to Da Dai Ji.
The Emperor Qianlong called to reedit Imperial Collection of Four, and collect the published and unpublished books in the world. Bao Shigong, the son of Bao Tingbo, collected 626 kinds of books (most are old editions of Song and Yuan dynasties). He presented them to the Four Treasuries Library by Wang Jie, a scholar in Zhejiang Province, which was the first contribution by private collectors at that time. The emperor greatly praised and awarded a volume of Ancient and Modern Books Integration to him. At the time of returning the books, the emperor also wrote the imperial poems in the History of Tang Que and the Summary of Wu Jing to show the reward. This honor attracted the great admiration of the scholars at that time.
Bao Tingbo's collection of books deserved special praise because of his collection idea of "scattering as gathering". The so-called "scattering as gathering" was mainly manifested in the way of engraving words to store the books. So he also had a certain position in the history of Chinese publishing. He once presided over the publication of 26 volumes of Zhibuzu Zhai Series ". In 1796, Bao Tingbo personally collated the series of books, collecting all the ancient books and precious copies of the old carvings collected by his family. At the age of 86, Bao Tingbo was appointed by the emperor as a scholar, and it was a grand event at that time. There was another important thing in the history of Chinese fiction that has not been noticed, that is, Bao Tingbo had engraved book of Pu Songling's Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio, which was known as the earliest existing carving edition of Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio (Hangzhou Qingketing edition in the thirtieth year of Qianlong (1765)). Once this book was published, Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio was widely spread, and subsequent editions of various commentaries, lithographic and lead copies were reprinted according to this edition.
Bao Tingbo liked to read, and searched and collected books all his life. He never kept these books as secrets and often gave them to others. His ultimate goal of collecting books was to make them public. But in his later years, he was full of poverty and illness. If a book addicts lost the ability to gather and copy books, it was tantamount to losing the source of life. The next year, he said goodbye to the world.
Bao Tingbo is a pure and admirable scholar and a book collector who makes effort to preserve and disseminate the cultural heritage of his motherland.Keyword: