St. Petersburg: Typ. of the Imperial Academy of Sciences, 1802. Item #1190
[2 – t.p.], 58 pp. 34x20,5 cm. Original period marbled paper wrappers. Wrappers and spine slightly rubbed on extremities, but overall a very good copy in very original condition.
First edition. Very rare Russian imprint with no paper copies of this edition found in Worldcat.
This is a rare first printed collection of the Russian American Company's founding papers, including all related decrees by Emperors Paul I and Alexander I, and RAC's first charter and bylaws with all accompanying documents, dated 1798-1802. The book is not listed in V. Lada-Mocarski's fundamental bibliography. Both he and Vladimir Gsovsky, the author of the authoritative compilation of the Russian Imperial laws and decrees concerning Russian America (Gsovsky, V. Russian Administration of Alaska and the status of the Alaskan natives. Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1950, 81st Congress 2d Session, Senate Document no. 152) only surveyed and described separately published documents from the multi-volume collections of the Russian laws - "Complete Collection of Laws of the Russian Empire" (1830-67) and "Code of Laws of the Russian Empire" (1st ed. - 1832). None of them mentions our 1802 publication. Lada-Mocarski, in his entry about laws and the Russian American Company, described only three documents published in our book – Paul I's Decree from July 19, 1799, and the lists of privileges and rules of the new company (Lada-Mocarski 161).
The "Rossiisko-Amerikanskoy Kompanii Akt i <…> Pravila" was published in 1802 in two typographies – the Imperial Senate and the Imperial Academy of Sciences, without text differences and only varying in the font. The second edition was issued privately (SPb.: Typ. I. Baikov, 1808, 58 pp.), under the same title and without text differences with the first edition. Apparently, RAC or the imperial government needed more copies after the first edition had gone out of print. Overall, a very important rare first publication of the Russian American Company's founding papers.
The contents of the book:
1) Decree of His Imperial Majesty [Paul I]… from the Governing Senate. July 19, 1799. 1 p. "It established the R.-A. Co. and added that the privileges (equivalent to charter) of the Company, as well as the rules (equivalent to bylaws) to determine and facilitate the Company's activities, were being sent to the Senate for implementation. The duration of these privileges, etc., was for 20 years" (Lada-Mocarski 161).
2) List of the privileges for the new company. July 8, 1799, at Peterhof. 3 pp. "This document sets forth, in 11 numb. articles, the privileges (equivalent to charter) granted for 20 years, including the jurisdiction over the northwestern coast of America north of 55° N.L. and various islands, already previously discovered, as well as over the new discoveries to be made north and south of 55° N.L., etc." (Lada-Mocarski 161).
3) Rules (equivalent to bylaws) for the new company. July 8, 1799, at Peterhof. 7 pp. 21 numbered paragraphs.
4) A sample of the text for the company's stock certificates. 1 p.
5) Decree of His Imperial Majesty [Paul I]… from the Governing Senate. December 2, 1799. 1 p. About the appointment of Nikolay Rezanov as RAC's "authorized correspondent."
6) Paul I's zhalovannaya gramota (decree) to the Russian-American Company. 27 December 1799. 4 pp. 11 articles. A list of RAC's privileges, supplemented with the introductory and conclusion parts.
7) Decree of His Imperial Majesty [Paul I]… from the Governing Senate. October 19, 1800. 1 p. About the establishment of RAC's head office in Saint Petersburg and a trade office in Irkutsk; about lowering the prices for RAC's stock shares to make them more affordable.
8) Decree of His Imperial Majesty [Alexander I]… from the Governing Senate. September 18, 1801. 2 pp. About lowering the prices for RAC's stock shares from 3727 rub. 27 ¾ kop. to 500 rub. to make them more affordable.
9) Report from the Governing Senate to Emperor Alexander I. August 17, 1801. 6 pp. About prices for RAC's stock shares.
10) Letter from Emperor Alexander I to RAC's stockholders. March 25, 1802. 1 p. Announcing that he had bought the shares for 10,000 rub.
11) Letter from Emperor Alexander I to the manager of his private funds Hofmeister Guryev. March 25, 1802. 1 p. Directing him to but RAC's shares for 10,000 rub.
12) Act of the Joint American Company. August 3, 1798. , 26 pp. 23 numbered sections (goals and purposes, a list of members, the company's capital, principles of dividend payments, the establishment of the head office in Irkutsk, appointment of the company's directors, their duties, about office accounting books and correspondence, etc.; ends with printed signatures of nineteen founders).