St. Petersburg: M.O. Wolf, 1867. Item #243
2nd corrected ed. , 592 pp. 24,5x18 cm. With a lithographed title page and twenty-three tinted lithographed plates (complete). Modern (period style) gilt tooled half leather. Half title with a minor repair of blank lower corner, a few minor stains of blank fore edge, otherwise a very good copy.
Rare early Russian travel account of a voyage to the Cape of Good Hope, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Hawaii, Tahiti, Moorea and other places written by a doctor of naval clipper ‘‘Plastun’’, which went on a circumnavigation in 1857-1860. ‘‘Plastun’’ was a part of a group of Russian propeller driven naval ships which were sent to visit the newly acquired Russian territories in the Far East (annexed with the signing of the Russian-Chinese Treaty of Aigun in 1858) and to establish Russian presence in Chinese and Japanese ports. On board of the ‘‘Plastun’’ Vysheslavtsev called at Atlantic Islands (Cape Verde, Ascension Island and others), rounded Cape of Good Hope, visited Singapore, Hong Kong, several bays of the new Russian Amur region, Vladivostok and Nikolayevsk; spent almost a year in Japan, and returned to Kronstadt via Hawaii, Tahiti, Strait of Magellan, Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro.
Separate chapters of the future book – essays about Cape of Good Hope, Atlantic Ocean, Hong Kong, Edo and others - were printed in the Russky Vestnik magazine in 1858-1860, under the general title ‘‘Letters from clipper Plastun’’. In 1862 the complete travel account was published by the Russian Naval Ministry which was in charge of publication of a number of important Russian expedition accounts in the 1800-1840s (voyages by Sarychev, Krusenstern and Lisyansky, Golovnin, Kotzebue, Luetke, Bellingshausen, Wrangel, and others). Vysheslavtsev’s book was meant to continue the tradition of publication of Russian expedition accounts, especially because he not only wrote the text of the travel account, but also created a series of vivid sketches depicting landscapes and native people of the exotic destinations. The original sketches were redrawn to be printed as lithographs in the renowned Saint Petersburg lithograph printing house of Paul Petit; the artists in charge were the students of the Imperial Academy of Arts, including young Ivan Shishkin and Vasily Vereshchagin – future famous Russian artists.
Our second edition of the book was issued five years later by a major publisher Mauritius Wolf, this publication included twenty-three lithographed plates (the same amount as in the Russian State Library copy) and is complete, although the title page calls for twenty-seven, like in the first edition. The completeness is confirmed by Forbes 2773.
Among the illustrations are views of the Ascension Island, Whampoa, Hakodate, several bays in the Russian Far East, Magellan Strait, embankment in Rio de Janeiro; portraits of the natives from the Cape of Good Hope, Singapore, Gilyaks from the Amur Region, Japanese in Edo and Hakodate, and others.
The ‘Pacific’ plates include views of Oahu Island, Pali (Oahu), two group portraits of Tahitian girls and the ‘kanakas’ (meant as native people of the Pacific islands), Fautaua waterfall (Tahiti), portrait of a New Caledonian on Tahiti, and three different views of the Papetoai Bay (Moorea). Chapter 7 of the account titled ‘‘The Pacific’’ contains a captivating description of the visit to Honolulu: city description, Diamond Hill, local society, funerals of a king’s nephew, local police, public prosecution, Waikiki village, Nuuanu Pali lookout, hula hula dance, personality of Kamehameha IV who received the officers of the Russian squadron in his palace; ‘Tahitian’ part talks about Papeete and environs, history of discovery and colonisation of the island, king
Pomare I, breadfruit trees, Papeuriri, local school, Fautaua waterfall, Moorea, introduction to the queen Pomare IV, and others.
«Vysheslavitsev was both observant and adept at recording his impressions.., a second edition was published in 1867; see No. 2773. Both editions are rare» (Forbes 2514).
Overall a very interesting early Russian account of South-East Asia and the Pacific Islands including Hawaii.
WorldCat locates seven paper copies.