St. Petersburg: Naval Typ, 1816. Item #254
[viii], 137, [iii] pp. 25,5x18 cm. With an aquatint portrait frontispiece of Takadaya-Kahei and four folding copper engraved maps and plans after P. Rikord. Period style mottled full leather with gilt tooled ornaments on the boards; all edges coloured. Pre-revolutionary owner’s ink stamp on the title page. Paper slightly age toned, some leaves with minor staining. Otherwise a very good copy.
First edition. Rare Russian imprint as only nine copies were found in Worldcat. Primary source of the early history of Russian-Japanese relations closely connected with the first Russian circumnavigation (1803-1806) under command of Adam von Krusenstern and the
Russian-American Company under Nikolay Rezanov (1764-1807). «In 1807 Golovnin was commissioned by the Russian government to survey the coasts of Kamchatka, the Russian American colonies and the Kuril Islands» (Howgego 1800-1850, G15).
The book describes the rescue operation organised by Captain Peter Rikord (1776-1855) on the Imperial Russian sloop «Diana» as a result of the famous diplomatic Golovnin incident (1811-1813), which brought Russia and Japan to the brink of war.
Count Nikolai Rezanov took part in Krusenstern’s circumnavigation with the goal to deliver the first Russian embassy to Japan and to establish diplomatic relations between the countries.
The embassy was unsuccessful, and in 1805 the Emperor of Japan prohibited Russian ships and subjects from approaching Japanese shores. Following the instructions of an irritated and insulted Rezanov, in 1806-1807 two ships of the Russian-American Company - ‘Yunona’
and ‘Avos’ under the command of young navy officers Nikolas Khvostov and Gavriil Davydov sailed to the Japanese possessions on the Southern Sakhalin, the Kuril Islands and Hokkaido, robbed and burned the shore settlements, and captured several Japanese people. Although both Khvostov and Davydov were arrested as soon as they arrived in Okhotsk and were sent to Saint Petersburg to be trialed, the attitude of the Japanese to Russians deteriorated; Russia was considering preparing for a war with Japan. In 1808-1811 the Russian sloop ‘Diana’ under the command of Vasily Golovnin and Peter Ricord (second-in-command) was sent on a second official Russian circumnavigation to explore and describe the Russian Far East, Kamchatka and Alaska. Upon his return from Russian America in 1811 Golovnin sailed to chart the Kuril Islands. During a short stop at Kunashir Island, Golovnin, his two officers and four sailors were taken prisoners by the Japanese, transported to the Hokkaido Island and were kept in prison near the town of Matsumae for over two years.
The peaceful solution of the conflict became possible only as a result of the friendly relationship between Peter Rikord, who organized and led three expeditions to rescue his commander Golovnin, and a prominent Japanese businessman and public figure Takadaya Kahei (1769-1827), who was captured by Rikord with his ship Kanze-maru, and stayed in Russia for several months. Takadaya Kahei learned Russian, and upon returning home he convinced the Japanese government that the Russians could be trusted. The Russian sailors were then released from Japanese captivity (no one in history had ever returned from the Japanese captivity before).
This work describes the story of Golovnin’s capture and rescue in a very captivating manner. The plates and maps depict the views of the harbours and ports of Edermo (modern Erimo) and Hakodate, plans of the special facilities built for the negotiations, and a portrait of Takadaya Kahei. Rikord’s book is considered by Russian bibliographers as a supplement to the book by Golovnin, titled Captivity in Japan During the Years 1811, 1812, 1813 which was published earlier the same year (SPb., 1816).