Saint Petersburg: Imperial Academy of Sciences, 1894.
First and only edition. Quarto. 2 vols. bound together. xliii, 337; , 511 pp. Title page and text in Russian and French. With a folding table, thirty-two folding lithographed maps and plates at rear (31 plates numbered I-XXXI, and plate V-bis), and numerous tables of hydrological data in text. Original grey publisher’s hardcover with printed pictorial covers. With a grey custom-made cardboard slipcase. Previous owner’s ink signature on the top margin of the title page to part 1. The binding very mildly soiled and rubbed on extremities, but overall a beautiful, well-preserved and original copy.
Important voluminous account of the first Russian oceanographic expedition to the Pacific Ocean - a three-year-long circumnavigation of corvette “Vityaz” in 1886-1889, under the command of then the Captain of the 1st rank, and later Admiral Stepan Makarov. In 1886, “Vityaz” went from Kronstadt to Vladivostok to take part in the naval exercise of the Russian Pacific naval squadron under the command of Rear Admiral Alexey Kornilov (1830-1893). The corvette visited Portsmouth, Lisbon, Madeira, Cape Verde Islands, Rio de Janeiro, crossed the Strait of Magellan, and stopped in Valparaiso, the Marquesas, Hawaii, and Yokohama. In 1887-1888, “Vityaz” surveyed the Sea of Okhotsk and the Sea of Japan, searching for suitable anchorages to the ships of the Pacific Squadron. As a result, the crew mapped numerous capes, islands, peninsulas and rocks in the Posyet Bay and the Sea of Japan. Later the corvette visited the Bering and Medny (Copper) Islands of the Commander Islands archipelago. The return voyage went via Hong Kong, Saigon, Singapore, Sumatra, Colombo, and the Suez Canal. The crew carried out a detailed hydrographic survey during the journey, measuring the temperature and specific weight of seawater every four hours, and on the borders of currents and in straits – every 5-10 minutes; surveying sea depths, currents, times of freezing of the ports and bays, and others. Only the sea depths they measured over 260 times.
This book is the only official account of the expedition, solely dedicated to its scientific results. Makarov intended to issue a more narrative description of the voyage, based on his diary, but only a small brochure about Orthodox Christianity in Japan was published in 1889 (Makarov, S. Pravoslaviye v Yaponii. SPb., 1889, 28 pp.). Makarov’s diary apparently perished with him in the explosion of his battleship “Petropavlovsk” in 1904, during the Russo-Japanese War. The two volumes of “Vityaz and the Pacific…” contain over a thousand pages of scientific data. The first volume includes a detailed description of the methods of observations and scientific instruments used by the crew. The second volume has the full text of the hydrographical logbook kept during the voyage, a list of the logbooks (manuscript or printed) of over sixty Russian ships surveying the Pacific Ocean in 1804-1889 (starting with the first Russian circumnavigation of “Nadezhda” and “Neva” under the command of Krusenstern and Lisyansky) which were used for the compilation of the voluminous tables of the temperatures and specific weights of water of the North Pacific Ocean (also included in the volume); there is also a table of opening and freezing of waters on the coast of Eastern Siberia.
The maps at the rear include a world map with the track of “Vityaz;” plates showing scientific instruments used for the observations; three maps of the North Pacific Ocean with the measurements of the specific weight of seawater, and water temperatures on the surface and the depth of 400 m.; twenty maps and diagrams of the North Pacific registering the specific weigh of water and temperatures of the Sea of Okhotsk (including the Gizhigin Bay), the Sea of Japan (including the La Perouse Strait), the Bering Sea, the Fourth Kurile Strait, the Straits of Korea and Formosa, and the East China Sea; there are also four maps showing the temperatures and specific weights of water in the Red Sea, Indian Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea, the Strait of Gibraltar, and the Baltic Sea. The book also has a map of the Vityaz Bay (north-eastern part of the Posyet Bay in the Sea of Japan), which was first mapped by the expedition of Vasily Babkin in 1862-63, but was surveyed in detail by “Vityaz” in 1888 and was then renamed after the ship.
In 1895 Makarov was awarded the Gold Medal of the Russian Geographical Society for his book. The name of corvette “Vityaz” was written on the pediment of the Oceanographic Museum in Monaco, inaugurated in 1910, as one of the most important ships in the development of oceanography (together with HMS Investigator, Fram, Vega, Belgica, and others).
Makarov was “a brilliant and innovative naval architect, inventor, tactician, and ship designer. During the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78, his new designs and tactics for torpedo boats were used on the Black Sea with notable success. He was a pioneering Russian oceanographer, and he also designed the first mine-laying ships intended exclusively for that purpose. His armour-piercing shells, known as Makarov tips, greatly increased the penetrating force of shells. He also designed and built the icebreaker Ermak to explore the Arctic. Makarov became Russia’s youngest admiral at age 41 in 1890, and he was promoted to vice admiral in 1896. He held a series of increasingly important posts during the 1890s; in February 1904 he was appointed commander of the Pacific Ocean squadron at the start of the Russo-Japanese War and acquitted himself ably until three months later, when he was killed as his flagship, Petropavlovsk, struck a mine and sank” (Encyclopaedia Britannica online).