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Golovnin, Vasily Mikhailovich (1776-1831) & Duncan, Archibald. Opisanie Primechatelnykh Korablekrusheniy... [Description of the Most Interesting Shipwrecks Which have Taken Place at Various Times. A work by Mr. Duncan. Translated from English and Supplemented with Notes and Explanations for the Use of Russian Navigators by Fleet Captain-Commander Golovnin. Published by the order of the State Admiralty Department: in 3 parts]. [With]: GOLOVNIN, Vasily Mikhailovich (1776-1831) Opisanie Primechatelnykh Korablekrusheniy, v Raznye Vremena Preterpennykh Rossiyskimi Moreplavatelyami... [Description of the Most Interesting Shipwrecks Suffered at Various Times by Russian Navigators. Collected, Organized and Supplemented with Notes and Explanations by Fleet Captain-Commander Golovnin. Part 4, Serving as the Continuation to the Description of the Most Interesting Shipwrecks by Mr. Duncan. Published by the order of the State Admiralty Department]. Saint Petersburg: Typ. Of N. Grech, 1853.



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Second Edition. .  pp. “Honoured by the Learned Committee of the [Russian Imperial] Navy”. Large Octavo (ca. 23 x 16cm) . Xvi, 164; [4], 159; [4], 160; [6], 162 pp. Period quarter half sheep with marbled papered boards; spine with gilt lettered title. Inventory number in ink on the title page, the small stamp of the book exchange on the title page as well. Soviet pencil inscription on the first pastedown endpaper. Spine is slightly bumped, moderate browning of the paper, otherwise a very good copy.

Very Rare Russian imprint with only two paper copies found in Worldcat and no copies found of the first edition published in 1822. First Russian edition of Archibald Duncan’s “The Mariner’s Chronicle, being a Collection of the Most Interesting Narratives of Shipwrecks, Fires, Famines, and Other Calamities Incident to a Life of Maritime Enterprise…” (1st ed. London, 1804), translated and supplemented with descriptions of several important Russian shipwrecks by a famous Russian circumnavigator Vasily Golovnin (1776-1831). 

The first three parts contain just over sixty descriptions of shipwrecks from Duncan, including loss of HMS “Porpoise” near the coast of Queensland, Australia (1803), mutiny on the “Bounty” (1789), loss of  packet “Lady Hobart” on an island of ice in the Atlantic Ocean (1803), loss of HMS “Pandora” on the outer edge of the Great Barrier Reef (1791), loss of HMS Providence during William Broughton’s expedition to the North Pacific (1797), voyage of the crew of the wrecked whaler “Chesterfield” from New Guinea to the Timor Island; hardships endured by four Russian sailors left on a small island east of Spitsbergen (1743), wreck of the “Grosvenor” near the South African coast (1782), and others. The last part contains descriptions of thirteen Russian shipwrecks which took place in 1771-1818; the text is based on the original logbooks, and period travel accounts published as books or articles in magazines. Very important is the account of the incident with the ship “Neva” under command of Yury Lisiansky during the first Russian circumnavigation. On the 15-16th of October 1805 the ship “got stuck on a coral reef in the Northern Great Ocean”, which was later named the Neva Shoal, and the small island next to it - the Lisiansky Island (one of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands). The description is based on Lisiansky’s account of the expedition (Puteshestvie vokrug Sveta v 1803, 4, 5 i 1806 godakh, po poveleniyu Ego Imperatorskago Velichestva Alexandra Pervago, na korable Neve… SPb., 1812) and “Neva’s” handwritten logbook. Golovnin describes the circumstances of the wreck and the actions of the crew to take “Neva” off the reef, and comments on the efficiency of those actions and the wisdom of Lisiansky; brief note is given about the location of the Lisiansky Island.

Other essays describe the wrecks of “Neva” near Cape Edgecumbe while on service of the Russian-American Company (Alaska, 1813); Russian American Company’s ship “St. Nicholas” under command of navigator Bulygin near the Destruction Island (off the Washington Coast, 1808); “Prince Gustav” under the flag of rear Admiral Kartsov near the Norwegian shore (1798); naval brig “Dispatch” under Captain-Lieutenant Kaslivtsov near Rügen Island (Baltic Sea, 1805); corvette “Flora” under command of Captain-Lieutenant Kologrivov in the Mediterranean Sea (1807); frigate “Pollux” under command of Captain-Lieutenant Trotskevich in the Baltic Sea (1809); “Tolskaya Mother of God” in the Black Sea (1804); naval brig “Falk” in the Baltic Sea (1818); naval ship near the Swedish shore (1771); frigate “Hero” in a Baltic port (1808); frigate “Argus” in the Baltic Sea (1808), and a disastrous state of “Retvisan” under command of Captain Greig near the Texel Island (1799) This book was first published in 1822 after the recommendation of Russian Naval Minister Marquis de Traversay; the copy run was 600 copies, out of which 300 were presented to the author for the distribution. The “Description of the Most Interesting Shipwrecks” became mandatory for the libraries of Russian naval ships, and the commanders of the merchant ships were obliged to have it as well. Despite the obvious success Golovnin ran into problems with many influential naval officers and statesmen in Russia, including Admiral Alexander Shishkov (1754-1841), a member of the State Admiralty Department, ex-Secretary of State and a future Minister of Education. Shishkov found that Golovnin’s book contained “too much satire about fleet officials” (meaning the public discussion of shipwrecks several high ranking naval officers were blamed for), and although he couldn’t prohibit its publication, Golovnin was forced to resign his position as the assistant director of the Naval Cadet Corps in Saint Petersburg, and was refused a medal from the Russian Academy headed by Shishkov (a research center for Russian language and Russian literature), initially issued for his “Notes about Captivity in Japan”. It was only over twenty years after Golovnin’s death that the second edition of his “Description…” was published.

Item #RA36
Price: $8500.00