St. Petersburg: Typ. Of F. Drekhsler, 1812. Item #590
In 2 vols. , ix, 246, iii, [1 - errata]; , 335, iii, [1 - errata] pp. Small Octavo. With a stipple engraved frontispiece portrait of Yuri Lisiansky by A. Ukhtomsky after a drawing by G. Geuzendam. Preface to vol. 1 (p. Vi) and the errata page in vol. 2 signed by Lisiansky in brown ink. Owner’s ink inscription on the title page of vol. 1. Period style half calf with marbled papered boards. Paper slightly age toned, but overall a very good copy of this rare set.
Beautiful presentation copy (both volumes are signed by the author) of the text of rare first edition of Yuri Lisiansky’s account of the first Russian circumnavigation executed in 1803-1806 under command of Ivan Krusenstern. Very rare imprint with only nine paper copies found in Worldcat: complete edition of 2 vols. text and atlas presents in the University of Hawaii at Manoa, University of Alaska Fairbanks, New York Public Library, and Yale University (according to Forbes (428), “the portrait listed in the collation of the atlas is not present”); text volumes (only) are deposited in Harvard University, UC Berkeley, Alaska State Library, and the University of Chicago; and atlas (only) is in the National Library of France.
The book was published on account of the Office of the Russian Emperor, first English edition translated by the author was issued in 1814; second Russian edition with annotations was published only in 1947.
“A companion account to the Kruzenshtern narrative of the first Russian circumnavigation. The Neva and Nadezhda left Kronstadt and remained together until their stop at Hawaii in 1804, at which point Lisianskii proceeded directly to Kodiak, where he confirmed reports of the destruction of the settlement at Sitka by Kolosh Indians. Lisianskii sailed into Baranov, repulsed the Indians, and took possession of anew hill, which he named New Archangel (and which is illustrated in his account). He sent more than a year at both Sitka and Kodiak, and the text proves him to have been a keen observer. His account of the Marquesas differs from that of Kruzenshtern <...>. The Neva arrived at Hawaii June 8 and departed June 20, 1804, and Lisianskii’s account is brief, but includes visits to Kealakekua Bay and to Waimea, Kauai <...>”(Forbes 443).
In the preface Lisiansky notes that due to frequent stormsand unexpected circumstances his ship Neva had to be parted with Krusenstern’s ship Nadezhda for many times, and not only he had to perform a separate travel, but also had “to observe and describe places which Krusenstern had no chance to visit”, and this edition was published for “the respected readers” to have “the full account of the travel.”
First volume starts with the “list of the Officials and Naval Servants of the ship Neva” (pp. Vii-ix) and describes the voyage from St. Petersburg to the Atlantic Ocean, Brazil (Santa Catarina Island), around Cape Horn to the Easter Island and further to the Marquesas and Hawaii. Six chapters out of ten are dedicated to Neva’s travel in the Pacific. Easter Island was visited on 17-21 April 1804; Lisiansky describes its relief, shores and bays (giving advice on navigation around the island), famous statues, natives and their dwellings, handcrafts,and costumes, notes about communication with the natives, et al. The Marquesas were visited on 7-17 May; Neva reunited with Nadezhda in the Taiohae Bay (Nuku Hiva), local king and queen visited the ship, Lisiansky visited the king’s hut, home of an Englishman Roberts who lived there, local cemetery; the king was treated with pancakes, honey and port wine; 15 May – Krusenstern and Lisiansky with several officers visited nearby Hakaui Bay where they found a wonderful anchorage and a small river which Lisiansky called Nevka (after an arm of the Neva River in Saint Petersburg). Separate chapter outlines geographical location of the main Marquesas Islands (southern Fatu Hiva, Moho Tani, Tahuata, Hiva Oa, and northern Ua Pou, Ua Huka, Nuku Hiva, Eiao), and gives a detailed description of Nuku Hiva: coast, relief, anchorages,advice on navigation, local kings, wars, burials, wedding ceremonies,human sacrifice, explanation of taboo, appearance and beauty of locals, tattoos, costumes, signs of cannibalism, war tactics, weapons; special division describes about twenty local trees and plants. There is also a dictionary of the Nuku-Hivan language (pp. 152-159), including expressions: “Don’t touch, the cannon will kill you”, “He is a thief”, “Have you stolen anything?”, “Do you want to sleep on the ship?”, “Do you eat your enemies?” and others.
Hawaiian Islands were visited on 8-20 June, 1804. Two days after the Hawaii Island had been sighted, Nadezhda left for Kamchatka (on the 10th of June), and Krusenstern didn’t land on the islands. 11- 16 June Neva visited Kealakekua Bay where Captain Cook had been killed in 1779, bought provisions from the islanders, went to the village where the chief showed them holes on the trees from British cannonballs fired after the death of Captain Cook, looked at the royal palace, main temple and talked to the local priest, later visited the place of death of Captain Cook and saw “the stone where this immortal man fell, and soon after we saw the mountain where according to the locals his body was burned”. After return to the ship Lisiansky found there two Americans who told him about the Sitka massacre which had happened the previous year. 19 June – visited Waimea Bay (Kauai) and talked to the local king who was in the state of war with Kamehameha I. Separate chapter describes the Hawaiian Islands, especially the Big (Hawaii) Island: local kings and laws, barbaric customs, the meaning of the taboo, armed and naval forces of king Kamehameha, Hawaiian calendar and holidays, temples, human sacrifice, funerals, appearance of the Hawaiians, their costumes, list of prices paid for the provisions, and others. Separate chapter is dedicated to the reign of Kamehameha,talking about history of his ascension to the throne, and wars with other chiefs; Lisiansky also talks about the volcanic activity of the islands, local agriculture, and domestic animals; concise dictionary of the language of the inhabitants of the Sandwich Islands (pp. 228-236), includes phrases: “Do you have pigs?”, “Eat shit” (noted as “Common curse of Sandwich Islanders”), and others.
Five chapters of the second volume are dedicated to Neva’s voyage in Russian America, including “Brief dictionary of the languages of the north-west coast of America with Russian translation” (the largest of all dictionaries prepared for the book, with about 500 words and expressions, and their translations into languages of Sitka and Unalaska, pp. 154-207). Lisiansky gives a detailed description of the Battle of Sitka (October 1804), voyages around the Kodiak Island and wintering there. Last three chapters describe the return travel to Saint Petersburg via Canton, Sunda Strait and Cape of Good Hope, and the discovery of the Lisianski Island (Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, ca. 1,600 km northwest of Honolulu).
Our copy houses a beautiful stipple engraved frontispiece portrait of Yuri Lisiansky (vol. 1) executed by a prominent Russian engraver Andrey Ukhtomsky (1770-1852) after a drawing by Gerrit Yacobus Geuzendam (1771-1842). Both Lada-Mocarski (68) and Forbes (428) don’t mention the portrait frontispiece in the first text volume, but count for a portrait of Lisiansky in the Folio full engraved atlas to the text published in 1812. Electronic copy of the atlas from the Russian National Library though doesn’t have the atlas which most likely means that there should be only one portrait of Lisiansky in the whole edition.
“Lisianskii, commanding the Neva, participated in the first Russian circumnavigation of the globe under Kruzenstern. While Kruzenstern (on his ship Nadezhda) spent most of the time in Kamchatka, Lisianskii with his ship crossed to Sitka and played an important role in Baranov’s reoccupying the original Russian fort and settlement there, which had been overrun by Koloshes who massacred all the Russians.This is a very important and rare work on the history of Alaska in general and Sitka in particular” (Lada-Mocarski 68).
‘‘Ranks in value with Cook and Vancouver as a contribution to geographical knowledge on the N. W. Coast, Sandwich Islands, etc. The colored plates are of unsurpassed beauty’’ (Wright Howes 56-259).
‘‘Most important work dealing with discoveries on the N.W.Coast of America’’ (Soliday 873).
‘‘The naturalist, Langsdorff’s account is of particular importance for its scientific observations, and, like Krusenstern’s, for the history and geographical discoveries in the Aleutian Islands, the Northwest Coast,and California. Further, it contains information respecting the Russian voyages and discoveries in the Northern Ocean, the Russian fur trade and the Russian-American Company’’ (Eberstadt 119-025).
Forbes 428. Sabin 41416. Smith 2255. Wickersham 6260 (incorrectly described). Howgego 1800 to 1850, K23, L36. Arctic Bibliography, vol. 2, no. 10208 (doesn’t describe or mention the atlas which belongs to this work). Obolyaninov 1493. Svodny Katalog 1801-1825, # 4550. Mezhdunarodnaya Kniga, Catalogue # 32 “Geography and Travels”, # 351 “Copies with Atlas are extremely rare”.