St. Petersburg: S.V. Zvonaryov, 1867. Item #326
, iv, , 707 pp. 23,5x16,5 cm. With several woodcuts in text. Contemporary quarter leather with original pebbled papered boards; rebacked in style. Title page with a minor loss on the blank outer margin neatly repaired, some mild foxing throughout, otherwise a very good copy.
Very rare. First edition of this ‘encyclopaedia’ on Siberian hunting written by a Russian mining engineer, hunter, ethnographer and writer Alexander Cherkasov (1834-1895), during his service in 1856-1863 on the gold mines in Dauria (Transbaikal region). The book contains a captivating description of Eastern Siberian animals and ways of trapping and hunting them: there are 21 sketches about predators (including bear, wolf, fox, lynx, wolverine, marten, sable, stoat, badger, and others) and 12 sketches about ‘edible’ animals (including moose, Manchurian wapiti, Capreolus, deer, wild boar, hair, squirrel, and others). There are also characteristics of guns, traps and weapons; descriptions of the use of dogs and horses for hunting, advice on camping in taiga, and interesting ethnographic sketches on manners and customs of hunters in Siberia.
Several chapters from the book were first published in the St. Petersburg ‘Sovremennik’ and ‘Delo’ magazines in 1866 and 1867. The book became very popular in Russia and Europe: second Russian enlarged and corrected edition was published in 1884 by A.S. Suvorin; the book was translated into German (Berlin, 1886), and French (Paris, 1896 and 1899).
Alexander Cherkasov graduated from the Mining Cadet Corps in St. Petersburg in 1855, and was sent to the Nerchinsk Mining District, where the first private reading of his yet unpublished Notes of a Hunter from Eastern Siberia took place in 1864. Since 1871 he was the director of the Suzun copper melting factory in the Altai Mountains. In the 1880s Cherkasov lived in Barnaul where he was elected the City Golova (head of the municipal legislative branch); in the 1890s he moved to Yekaterinburg and was also elected its City Golova. The Notes of a Hunter was the only book of Cherkasov’s stories published during his life; separate essays were also published in the Priroda i Okhota (i.e. Nature and Hunting) magazine in 1883-87, noteworthy are his memories about hunting with Alfred Brem in 1876 near Barnaul.