An offprint from the “Morskoy Sbornik” magazine (1860, No. 2-3). St. Petersburg: Typ. of the Naval Ministry, 1860. First and only edition. Small Quarto (ca. 23,5x15 cm). 37 pp. With a woodcut vignette on the title page. Later blue paper wrappers. Paper slightly age-toned, title page with minor tears neatly repaired, but overall a very good copy.
Very Rare Russian imprint with no copies found in Worldcat. Rare offprint from the authoritative “Morskoy Sbornik” (i.e. “Naval Digest”) – the main Russian naval periodical of the 19th century (founded in 1848) and the official periodical of the Russian Navy. Some of its articles were also published as offprints, with small print runs. This overview of the history of British Arctic exploration in search of the Northwest Passage was first published in “Morskoy Sbornik’s” issues No. 2 (pp. 132-153) and 3 (pp. 15-31) for 1860. It is a translation of the article titled “Arctic Discovery,” which was first published in the British “Nautical Magazine and Naval Chronicle” (December 1860, pp. 617-644). The Russian version has an edited preface and conclusion. As follows from the preface of the Russian work, this is the first “concise overview of all expeditions sent from England to the northern Polar Seas, in order to discover the Arctic passage from the Atlantic to the Great Ocean <…>, [compiled] from different periodicals and accounts <…>. A detailed description of the discovery of the Northwest Passage would be the most interesting, but since the work is tremendous, we can’t publish it here and commence with the following table…” (p. 1).
The work lists 81 British Arctic voyages, from John Cabot (1497) to Francis McClintock’s 1857-59 voyage, indicating the vessels’ names, tonnage, names of captains, dates and places of departure, dates of return or vessels’ fate, vessels’ owners (government, private, Hudson’s Bay Co.). Two voyages of the ship “Advance” in 1850 and 1853 are marked as organized by the government of the United States. The main text of the article provides more details on the history and results of the voyages; about twenty entries are dedicated to Arctic voyages of John Franklin and Franklin search expeditions, the latest of which (McClintock) had returned to England in September 1859, just a few months before the publication of the article. Among the other voyages are those of Sir Hugh Willoughby, Martin Frobisher, John Davis, Henry Hudson, Robert Bylot, James Cook, John Ross, William Edward Parry, Frederick Beechey, and many others. Overall a very rare, small print-run overview of the history of British Arctic exploration, showcasing the close connections between Russian and British scientific communities of the mid-19th century and steady Russian interest in the discovery of the Northwest Passage.