Saint Petersburg: B.L. Gek [Heck], 1790. First and only Russian Edition. Octavo (ca. 20,5x12 cm). 2 vols. bound together. 271; 275 pp. With a copper engraved portrait frontispiece of Captain Cook. Period brown Russian full calf; spine with black gilt lettered title label and gilt tooled decorative ornaments, marbled endpapers. Private Russian library bookplate on verso of the first free endpaper, an ink private library stamp and a number on the opposite leaf. Binding slightly rubbed on extremities, occasional pencil notes and markings in text, but overall a very good original copy of this rare book.
First and Only Russian Edition of the biography of Captain Cook by Andrew Kippis, “the frankest and most reliable of all contemporary accounts” (Holmes, cited Forbes 149). Very rare Russian imprint with only two paper copies found in Worldcat (Harvard University, State Library of New South Wales) and not seen by Forbes (Forbes, 196). The book is illustrated with a copper engraved portrait of Captain Cook which was the first portrait of the famous navigator in Russia. It is based on the famous engraved portrait by John K. Sherwin after Nathaniel Dance but is inverted (in mirror reflection). The same portrait was published in the fourth Russian edition of Zimmerman’s “Puteshestvie okolo Sveta Kapitana Kuka i Zhizn’ Yego”(“Reise um die Welt mit Capitain Cook,” Saint Petersburg, on account of Peter Bogdanovich), but since the “fourth Zimmerman” was printed in 1793, it is this “Russian Kippis” that includes the first known printed portrait of Captain Cook in a Russian book.
Published in a private Saint Petersburg typography of an emigrant from Saxony, Bernhard Heck, the “Russian Kippis” joined a very small group of scarce Russian publications of Cook’s accounts or literature about him printed during that time. During the period between the 1770s and the 1850s when Europe and America saw hundreds of books and articles dedicated to James Cook and his discoveries, just a few translated books and no original works were published in the Russian language. These include Zimmerman’s “Puteshestvie okolo Sveta Kapitana Kuka” (four editions in Saint Petersburg: 1786, 1788, 1792 and 1793), Andrew Kippis’s “Podrobnoye i Dostovernoye Opisaniye Zhizni… Kapitana Kuka” (1790), the account of Cook’s second voyage in 1772-75 (“Puteshestviye v Yuzhnoy Polovine Zemnogo Shara…” SPb., 6 vols., 1796-1800); and the account of Cook’s last voyage in 1776-80 (“Puteshestviye v Severny Tikhy Okean…” 2 vols., SPb., 1805-1810). At the time of publication of the “Russian Kippis,” only two Russian editions of Zimmermann’s book and a couple of articles in periodicals had been published.
The Russian edition consists of eight chapters, describing all three of Cook’s voyages, his death, “character, effects of his voyages, testimonies of applause, commemoration of his services, regard paid to his family” etc.; the supplement in the end of the second volume is the translation in prose of “The Morai, an Ode” by Miss Helen Maria Williams. Apparently by the typographer’s mistake, the chapters in the second volume of the Russian edition are numbered: “chapter fifth,” “chapter fifth,” “chapter sixth,” and “chapter eighth.”
The translator of the “Russian Kippis” was Timofey Ivanovich Mozhaysky (ca. 1760-1805), Russian translator and government official. He studied in the Moscow University, worked there as a secretary in 1783-90 and later served in the Admiralty in Saint Petersburg, the Heroldmeister Kontor and the department of appeals of the State Senate. The Russian edition of the “Life of Captain Cook” was published during Mozhaysky’s service in the Admiralty which explains his interest to the topic of the recent geographical discoveries and was most likely produced for Russian Naval Officers in the Pacific as well as scientists studying the region. This copy derives from two private libraries of bibliophiles from Perm (the Urals) Fedor Petrovich Esaul (1892-?) and Vitaly Alexeyevich Pavlov (b. 1930).
Svodny Katalog XVIII 2915; Obolyaninov [Russian Illustrated Books] 202; Lada-Mocarsky 40 (first English edition).