St. Petersburg: Typ. Of Conrad Wingeber, 1835. Item #594
2 vols. bound together. , ii, , 7-276, ; , ii, 139, xiv pp. 27x17 cm. With two large folding copper engraved plates at rear. Period dark green quarter leather. Gilt lettered initials of a previous owner “P.G.” on the bottom of the spine; narrow silk bookmark bound in. Several faded private library numbers and a few mild water stains in text, but overall a very good copy.
First and only edition. Rare imprint with nine paper copies found in Worldcat. Valuable description of the East Siberian Yeniseysk Governorate of the Russian Empire (modern-day Krasnoyarsk Kray of Russia), written by its first governor Alexander Stepanov (1781-1837; in office in 1823-31). Formed in 1822 as a part of the Eastern Siberian General Governorship with the centre in Krasnoyarsk, the Yeniseysk Governorate covered the basin of the Yenisey River, from the Taymyr Peninsula in the north to the border with a frontier of the Chinese Empire in the south (now Tyva republic of the Russian Federation); and stretched roughly from the Taz River in the west to the Anabar River in the east. One of the major centers of the Siberian exiles since the end of the 18th century, the Governorate became a major attraction for gold prospectors after numerous deposits had been discovered there in the late 1820s; by the middle of the 19th century the region produced almost a half of the world’s gold.
Stepanov wrote a comprehensive description of the governorate, basing on his almost ten-year service as its head; eight chapters in two volumes cover the Yeniseysk province’s geography, topography, climate, flora & fauna, administration, industries and agriculture, population(with two chapters specially dedicated to the native Khakas people),trade, history since Yermak’s conquest of Siberia till Stepanov’s times, etc. Pp. 73-74 in vol. 1 mention the first gold discoveries on the banks of the Chulym River, but the author stated that the news was unreliable and couldn’t be verified yet. The second volume contains one of the earliest descriptions of Siberian exiles. The two extensive engraved plates at rear include a “Statistical Table of the Yeniseysk Governorate” which brought Stepanov the Demidov Award of the Russian Academy of Sciences in the category of “Statistics.” The plate includes twelve special statistical tables dedicated to population quantity and different classes of people, types of lands, grown produce and livestock, internal and external trade, industries, religion, educational institutions, andeven “Moral inclinations of the population” accounting for the cases of suicides, murders, divorces etc.; the tables for the first time take into account the vast population of Siberian exiles. The plate is illustrated with a map of the Yeniseysk Governorate and plans of its major cities (Krasnoyarsk, Yeniseysk, Achinsk, Minusinsk, and Kansk). The second plate contains copper engraved plans of sixteen new settlements built for the exiles on Stepanov’s order, and a plan of a typical house in such a settlement. As a sign of special gratitude for his work, Stepanov was awarded with a diamond ring from the Russian Emperor NikolasI. Overall an early historically significant description of the one of the bigger regions of Eastern Siberia.
While a governor of the Yeniseysk province, Stepanov facilitated the inclusion of native Khakas people into the government-supported category of “nomadic inorodtsy [natives]” which gave them privileges of self-governing, exemption from military service, religious independence etc.; established vital social institutions and constructed the buildings for them in Krasnoyarsk (hospital, pharmacy, library, typography,orphanages, schools, dormitories for exiles etc.) In 1823 he founded one of the first Siberian societies of regional studies “Conversations about Yeniseysky Region,” which closed in 1827, but led to the publication of the first collection of literary works of Siberian writers.