Moscow: Izhdiveniem N. Novikova i Kompanii Universitetskoi tipografii, u N.Novikova, 1783. Item #256
In 3 parts. P.1: , 188 pp.; P.2: , 52 pp.; P.3: , 118 pp. 8vo. In contemporary leather with raised bands and stamped author’s name and title on the spine. Rubbed, light cracks on the spine, previous owner’s ink marks inside (inscription by archimandrite Venedict of the Pskov-Caves Monastery made in 1801). Otherwise a very good copy.
First edition. Very rare.
This is one of the most famous masonic books of the 18th century - the ABC book for Russian Freemasons. The first Russian translation was published by Nikolai Novikov in 1783, and soon it became one of Russian rarities even though a few new editions were published later.
Nikolai Novikov (1744-1818) was one of the key figures during the Enlightenment era in Russia and Moscow Freemasonry in 18th century. He published this translation in 1783 but before that Russian Masons knew it very well reading handwritten manuscripts in English and German.
In the list of recommended literature for Freemasons in Russia this books was put on the first place. It was used as a text book of spiritual psychology for lodge’s apprentices. The author paid attention to an inner work of a Freemason: self discovery, self improvement, faith in true God and repentance. The aim was to rule over oneself and oneself’s passions so it was in a way a practical guide but also laid the foundation for ‘the science of self-knowledge’.
The edition is decorated with engraved vignettes and tailpieces depicting masonic symbols: sphinx, triangle, compass, skull, et al. The translation was made most likely from this edition: “Die Selbsterkenntnis, worinen die Natur und der Nutzen dieser wichtigen Wissenschaft und die Mittel, darzu zu gelangen, geseiget Werden... von Joh. B[artholomaeus] R[ogler]” (Leipzig, 1775).
Svodnyi katalog, #4133.
Worldcat locates two paper copies in USA (Princeton University Library and Harvard College Library).