Paris: P. Didot, 1801. Item #1181
XXXV, 214 pp., 4 ill., 13,5x8 cm. Original full leather.
Restoration of the spine, otherwise in a very good condition.
The first endpaper bears inscriptions and signatures of several interesting individuals which connect the book to Vasily Golovnin’s exploration of the Pacific. On the top of the endpaper we read Golovnin’s handwritten note in Russian: ‘‘From the books of Vassily Golovnin. Bought in London 16(28) of August, 1802. Price 4 shillings, 6 p.’’ and the number from his library ’111’. Below is the inscription in poor French that says: ‘‘While present at Joseph Afanasievich’s home this book was given to Joseph by Mr. Loutkovsky on 7th of May, 1817’’. Lower follows the line ‘‘From the library of Petr Tikhotsky. 1876’’. Tikhotsky’s blind stamps are found throughout the book.
Unfortunately we don’t know the full story behind these inscriptions, but it is clear that the book was bought in London by the famous Russian circumnavigator, diplomat and naval innovator Vasily Golovnin (1876-1831) during his internship in London that happened before his famous travels and discoveries. Then, the book was presented from one crew member of ‘Kamchatka’ to another and has ended up in the library of Peter Rikord’s grandson.
During those years (1801-1805) Golovnin was serving under Nelson and William Cornwallis, and the main result of his trip was the publishing of the classical naval textbook in Russian, that was used for decades to come ‘The Military Naval Signals for the Daytime and the Nighttime’. Golovnin was one of the most well-read captains of the Russian exploration era, it is known that part of his library about the naval science (in the 1920s acquired by the Moscow University) included hundreds of volumes. Golovnin’s famous life and discoveries are well researched and described (being captured twice by English and by Japanese, he managed to escape twice and kept returning to the Pacific despite his misfortunes).
The second inscription takes us to the preparations of the main exploration in Golovnin’s life: specially for the purpose of this trip the military sloop ‘Kamchatka’ was built. It was finished by January of 1817 and by August the same year it has sailed away. The 1817 was a busy year for Vssily Golovnin also because he has proposed to his fiancé Evdokiya Lutkovskaya, the daughter of the provincial nobleman. The wedding was postponed until the return of the expedition because of the lack of the time, however because of this arrangement Golovnin has included in his crew Evgokiya’s brother Feopempt Lutkovsky who was a midshipman. The wedding took place in 1820 but we have found information that Feopempt Lutkovsky has lived with Golovnin before the expedition began. This explains how the book might have been given by Lutkovskiy to another participant of the expedition - Ivan Afanasiev (who spelled his name as Joseph Afanasievich in the inscription), one of the two non-commissioned officer navigators on the ship. Not much is known about Afanasiev, although this rank was often held by the people without high naval education (which explains poor French). Later during the summer the younger brother of Golovnin’s wife-to-be has joined the crew as well, Ardalion. Both Fedyor Litke and Ferdinand Vrangel were included in the crew of ‘Kamchatka’ - this was their first circumnavigation (as well as the future head of the Russian American company Matvey Muraviev). Both Lutkovsky brothers have gone on to participate in other circumnavigations. Feopempt served as Golovnin’s secretary. He has been put under investigation in 1826 because of the Decembrists
coup, and evidently his ties to the secret organization were quite tight, however he managed to escape the severe punishment. His career could have ended around that time but the help came from the former Kamchatka crew-mate - Fyodor Litke who was at that time the tutor of the Great Duke Konstantin Nikolaevich and has made Lutkovsky his assistant.
Unfortunately it’s hard to trace the fate of Ivan Afanasiev and it’s unclear how the book made its way to its next owner - Pyotr Tikhotsky (1850-1916), the grandson of Peter Rikord, with whom Lutkovsky served together in the late 1820s in the Black Sea - Rikord was in charge of the fleet liberating Greece from Ottoman Empire. Most of his life Tikhotsky has spent in the Ministry of Agriculture and state property serving as Minister’s Special Officer.