St. Petersburg: Typ. Of Eduard Pratz, 1849. Item #599
2 vols. bound together. , 162, ; , 197,  pp. 215x14 cm. With two woodcut frontispieces,large folding lithographed map, folding table, woodcut vignettes on the title pages of both volumes and 13 woodcut illustrations in text (including two full-page). Pagination mistake in vol. 1: only four unnumbered pages between pp. 30 and 49, but no gap or loss in text. Contemporary half leather with marbled papered boards; spine with black gilt lettered title label. Pre-revolutionary private owners ink stamps on the front pastedown endpaper and the title page, owner’s ink inscription on the front free endpaper. Spine with minor cracks on hinges neatly repaired, paper slightly age toned, map with minor repair,but overall a very good copy in very original condition.
Very rare imprint with only one copy of this first edition found in Worldcat (University of Warsaw) and only one copy of the second edition (SPb., 1872, vol. 5 of Kovalevsky’s “Collected works”) in the library of Harvard University.
First edition of the account of the first Russian expedition to Africa, undertaken in 1847-48 under command of Yegor Kovalevsky (1809-1868), Russian geologist and diplomat of considerable renown.Kovalevsky had served as a mining engineer at the gold extracting factories in the Ural and Altai mountains in 1830-1837, headed the gold prospecting expedition to Montenegro in 1837, took part in the military expedition of count Perovsky to Khiva in 1839, and widely travelled across Central Asia and Europe (Afghanistan, Kashmir, the Balkans, the Carpathians) in the early 1840s.
In 1846 Kovalevsky went to the Ural mines with a group of Egyptian engineers who were sent by the Egyptian Khedive Muhammad Ali pasha to study gold mining, and in 1847 after a special invitation by the Pasha he headed a Russian expedition to Egypt undertaken in order to explore for gold deposits in the Fazogli district of the south- eastern Sudan. The expedition party included botanist Leo Tsenkovsky, two mining specialists from the Urals, Egyptian translator and a small military convoy. The party went up the Nile from Alexandria to Cairo, Berber, Khartoum, and from there up the Blue Nile to Sennar, Roseires and Kassan village on the Tumat River, a Blue Nile tributary.Kovalevsky explored the sources of the Tumat River in the mountains of the Fazogli district, discovered several gold deposits and established a gold processing station in Kassan. He was the first European traveller in the area and called it a “Nikolaevskaya land” after Tsar Nicholas I; the dry bed of the river along which he went he named “Nevka,” after a Neva tributary in Saint Petersburg. “This name will be an indication of the places which have been reached by a European traveller and to which nation he belonged to.” Having based on the results of his survey, Kovalevsky became one of the first geographers to oppose the theory of the Mountains of the Moon being the source of the White Nile, which was proven in the late 1850s by Speke and Burton.
Kovalevsky returned to Alexandria via the Nubian desert and Dongola. His account contains a detailed description of the expedition, the area between the Blue and the White Nile and its native inhabitants, portraits of the Egyptian Khedives Muhammad Ali and Ibrahim Pasha, based on Kovalevsky’s personal meetings with them, et al. The supplement contains Kovalevsky’s original essay “The geology of the Nile basin and gold deposits of the Eastern Africa.”
The book is illustrated with a large detailed map of Eastern Sudan and Abyssinia, which marks the newly discovered gold deposits in the “Nikolayevskaya land,” the Nevka River, the lands of “the Galla blacks” to the east, an “Elevated plain covered with bush and being a pasture for elephants” to the west, territory of “supposed antropophagus” in the Mountains of the Moon, caravan routes and the track of Kovalevsky’s expedition et al. According to the printed note on the map, the area around Sennar was mapped on the basis of Kovalevsky’s original survey. The folding table at rear of the second volume registers numerous barometrical and temperature observations taken during the expedition.
The book is illustrated with seventeen attractive woodcuts (including frontispieces and title page vignettes) executed by the best Russian engravers of the time (baron Konstantin Klodt, Yevstafy Bernardsky) after original drawings by Vasily Timm and Alexander Dorogov.