St. Petersburg: Obschestvennaya Polza, 1864. Item #320
, 588 pp. Octavo. Contemporary gilt tooled quarter leather with blind stamped brown cloth boards. Head and tail of spine with minor chips, first few pages with some mild water staining of upper outer corner of blank margin of pages, mild foxing throughout and a couple of mild stains in text, but overall a very good copy.
This is the first edition of the travel notes by a prominent Russian ethnographer made during his journey to the newly annexed Russian Amur Province – the area of over 600,000 sq. km between the Stanovoy Mountains and the left bank of the Amur River became a part of Russia just two years prior to his trip, on the 1858 Treaty of Aigun. Maksimov’s route went through Kazan, Ekaterinburg, Tomsk, Krasnoyarsk, Irkutsk, and Nerchinsk; from there down the Shilka River to its confluence with the Ergune River where the Amur River proper starts. The chapter about his travel along the Amur River describes the legs from Ust-Strelka to Blagoveshchensk, then to Khabarovsk, and to Nikolaevsk located near the Amur liman in the Pacific Ocean. Separate parts are dedicated to the Russian colonization of the Amur River valley, and to the life of Nikolaevsk and Russian settlers in the mouth of the Amur. The other chapter titled ‘On the Eastern Ocean’ describe Maksimov’s voyage on a steamer through the Strait of Tartary, with stops in De Castries Bay (now Chikhachyov Bay), the Emperor’s Harbour (now Sovetskaya Harbour), St. Olga’s Bay, and recently founded Russian settlement in the Posyet Bay. The next chapters describe his subsequent travel through Japan (Hakodate), Manchuria (with an interesting description of the city of Aigun), and China (Maimaicheng – now Altanbulag). There are also descriptions of the Russian fair in Blagoveshchensk and famous tea trade in Kyakhta.
Overall a very interesting first hand account of the early years of Russian colonization of the Amur River, and bordering territories of Japan, Manchuria and China.
Sergei Maksimov (1831-1901) was a Russian ethnographer and traveller, an honorary member of the Russian Academy of Sciences. He took part in the 1855 expedition to the Russian Arctic, organised by the Naval Ministry, and wrote his major book A Year in the North (1859) based on his impressions during the voyage. In 1860-61 Maksimov participated in the next expedition organised by the Naval Ministry to study the inhabitants of the just annexed Amur territories.
Maksimov’s most famous works were related to his travels to the Siberian katorga. His book Exiles and Prisons was published in 1862 for state officials only, with a print run of only 500 copies, and with a stamp ‘Confidential’. Only several years later a public edition appeared, becoming extremely popular. Maksimov’s books strikingly describe the manners and customs of Russians, including beggars, old believers, cossacks, inhabitants of the Caspian shore, Urals, and Amur; they are still highly popular and are reissued by modern publishers.
Only seven copies found in Worldcat.