St. Petersburg: Imperial Academy of Sciences, 1855. Item #222
Xxi, , 365 pp. 23,5x16 cm. With an additional woodcut title page (decorated with a vignette), a woodcut vignette on p. 365, and nine folding engraved maps at rear. Contemporary half leather, rebacked in style with gilt lettered title. Previous owner’s ink inscriptions on the first pastedown endpaper, title page and p. 15; Soviet bookshop’s ink stamp on the first pastedown endpaper, one map with a restored tear. Otherwise a very good copy.
First and only edition. Very rare Russian imprint with only one paper copy found in Worldcat (University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign).
First comprehensive chronicle of shipwrecks of Russian naval ships from the founding of the Russian navy in 1713 up to 1854. The book was written by Alexander Sokolov (1816-1858), a noted historian of the Russian fleet, and is based on the original protocols of the court hearings deposited in the Chief Naval Archive in St. Petersburg, archives of Reval, Kronstadt, Sevastopol, and Nikolayev, information from the archives of Okhotsk and Kamchatka collected by Dr. Polonsky (as stated in the Preface), special interviews with the witnesses and their private notes, and several published sources (articles from the Notes of the Admiralty Department, and Maritime Notes magazines, and others). Sokolov mentioned in the preface that he had not described the shipwrecks of private vessels, including those belonging to the Russian-American Company, and all rower vessels.
The Chronicle lists 289 calamities when Russian naval ships burned, sank, exploded, were crushed with ice, lost without sight, broken, or endured the calamity and survived. According to the author’s statistics, the shipwrecks took place in the Gulf of Finland (96), Gulf of Riga (6), Baltic (17), White (4), Black (81), Caspian (14), Mediterranean (8), and North Seas (4), Sea of Azov (9), Sea of Okhotsk (31), Bering Sea (7), Pacific (1), Arctic (2), and Atlantic Oceans (1), and Lake Baikal (1). Among interesting cases are shipwrecks of a ship under command of Khariton Laptev near the Taymyr Peninsula during the Great Northern Expedition (1740), Vitus Bering’s ship ‘St. Peter’ next to the island later named after him (Bering Island, 1741), galiot ‘St. Pavel’ near the Kuril Islands (1766), ship ‘Dobroye Namereniye’ of Billings-Chirikov expedition in the Sea of Okhotsk (1788), transport ship ‘Irkutsk’ in Lake Baikal (1838), boat ‘Angara’ in the Bering Sea (1850), and others.
The supplements contain texts of all Russian laws used for sentencing by naval courts, list of all shipwrecks (grouped according to the sea or ocean they happened in), list of vessels (grouped according to their type), list of all Captains and Commanders of the vessels (with the name of their ship and the date of the shipwreck); list of perished officers and crew (in chronological order). The book is dedicated to the memory of Sokolov’s friend Lieutenant Fyodor Andreev who died during the shipwreck of the ‘Ingermanland’ in the North Sea in 1842 near the Norwegian shore.
The additional woodcut title page is decorated with a vignette showing an anchor resting on a cross; another woodcut vignette depicting a lighthouse is placed on the last page; both were executed by a woodcut engraver and typographer Yegor Gogenfelden (1828-1908) after original drawings by A.P. Bogolyubov (1824-1896), a prominent Russian painter in the marine genre, and the official artist of the Chief Naval Staff since 1853. The maps show the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Boothia, Gulf of Finland, the Black Sea, the Sea of Azov, White Sea, Caspian Sea, North Sea and the Skagerrak Strait, Sea of Okhotsk and Bering Sea, the Kattegat Sea area; the numbers indicate the sea depths. Ink inscriptions on the first pastedown endpaper, title page and in text belong to Soviet Captain Konstantin Kozlovsky (1904-1980) who served in the Far East and Russian Arctic in the 1920-1930s, was a crew member of the icebreaker ‘Fyodor Litke’ which tried to reach ‘Cheliuskin’ when it was blocked by the packed ice in the Chukotka Sea in autumn 1933; later Kozlovsky was stationed in Leningrad and made a number of voyages to Cuba and other foreign ports.
Alexander Sokolov was a noted historian of the Russian fleet, known for his works Lomonosov’s project and Chichagov’s Expedition (1854), Bering and Chirikov (1849), first comprehensive attempt of Russian bibliography on naval and maritime topics Russian Maritime Library (first published in parts in the ‘Zapiski of the Hydrographical Department’, 1847-1852; first separate edition in 1883), and others.