Chromolithograph, dissected into 24 sections and mounted upon 2 sheets of original linen, folding into original card covers bearing printed title, neat manuscript former owner’s inscription in pen to front cover (Excellent, map resplendent, clean and crisp; covers in stellar shape, with only a tiny blemish), total when assembled: 142 x 124 cm (56 x 49 inches).
This stellar work is one of the finest maps of the Russian Empire in Europe to have been produced during the second half of the 19th Century, having been compiled by the preeminent cartographer Heinrich Kiepert. Very large, and produced to the highest standards of chromolithography, the map is predicated on the best sources, notably the mapping published in 1862 by the Russian Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg, which was, in turn, based on the latest government and private scientific surveys. The scope of the map is vast, taking in all of European Russia (which then included all of today’s Western Russia, Finland, the Baltic Countries, Belarus, Ukraine, the Caucuses, and much of modern Poland), extending in the north to include most of Scandinavia and then east, past the Urals; and in the south, to cover most of Greece, all of Anatolia, the Caucuses and the Caspian Sea.
The detailed projection features a very sophisticated and precise rendering of the topography, noting all coastlines, rivers and lakes, while mountains are expressed through elegant hachures. All subnational political jurisdictions are carefully delineated, noting the guberniyas and oblasts, with the various regions of the empire outlined in colours explained in the legend, in the lower-right corner.
The map labels every city, town and most villages, while a below the legend, the map explains the methodology by which Kiepert, a skilled linguist, transliterated names into German, from Russian, Finnish, Turkish and Persian. Additionally, the map delineates, all major high roads, post roads, as well as Russia’s fast growing network of railway lines, including the Moscow-St. Petersburg Railway (1851); the St. Petersburg-Warsaw Railway (1862); plus the various lines running down to the Black Sea.
The present map is by far one of the most impressive of several grand foreign maps of the Russian Empire made in the wake of the Crimean War (1853-6), which sparked an intense pan-European interest in the geography of Russia.
The present 1875 issue is the fourth edition of Kiepert’s map of the Russian Empire in Europe, which was first issued in 1865, with subsequent editions appearing in 1868, 1872, 1875, 1882 and 1893. All editions of the map were printed in 6 sheets, although, in many cases, these sheets were dissected and mounted upon linen (such as the present example), in a manner that was irrespective of the sheets.
The map, in any of its editions, is scarce, and the present example is in unusually stellar condition. The neat ownership inscription on the front cover of the present example likely refers to Alexis Roulet (1837 - 1901) of Neuchâtel, Switzerland, who was an important local historian best known for his masterly study on Medieval Neuchâtel, Statistique de la Ville et Banlieue de Neuchatel en 1353 (Neuchâtel, 1863).
Heinrich Kiepert: Preeminent 19th Cartographer
Heinrich Kiepert (1818 - 1899) was a German geographer and historian of unusual intellect and diversity of interests. Born in Berlin, he grew up in an affluent, culturally sophisticated family, mentored by leading academics and travelling widely. He studied history, geography and philology at the Humboldt University of Berlin, with a focus on Greece and the Near East. In addition to his academic duties, he showed great talent as a cartographer and worked closely with a number of commercial mapmakers. His first major project was assisting Carl Ritter in the production of his Atlas von Hellas und den hellenischen Kolonien (1840).
Kiepert travelled extensively in the Near East between 1841 and 1848, and become a world-renowned expert on Turkey. This led him to produce his own cartographic works concerning the Ottoman Empire, including the Karte des osmanischen Reiches in Asien (1844); the present Karte von Klein-Asien (1854); the Specialkarte vom Westlichen Kleinasien (1890-2) and his posthumously-published, monumental Karte von Kleinasien meist nach noch nicht oder in kleinstem Massstabe veroffentlichten Aufnahmen in 24 Blatt (1902-6).
Upon his return from the Near East, Kiepert became the head of the Geographisches Institut in Weimar and, in 1854, was appointed a full professor as the University of Berlin. He maintained a long association with the prominent Berlin map publisher Dietrich Reimer, who was responsible for issuing the present map. Kiepert was a remarkably adept editor of cartographic material, possessing an uncanny ability to select the best and most accurate information out of a variety of conflicting sources, resulting in maps of amazing accuracy and precision for their time.
Kiepert also produced excellent large-format maps of diverse parts of the world, including Central America, the Near East, the Caucuses and the Mediterranean.
As a leading authority on many of the lands bordering Russia, Kiepert developed excellent contacts within Russia and amongst foreigners who had spent time living in the country. This allowed him to create the present especially fine map of the Russian Empire in Europe.
Also notable were Kiepert’s educational works, Lehrbuch der alten Geographie (1877) and his Leitfaden der alten Geographie, (1879); and his enlarged atlas of the ancient world, Formae orbis antiqui (1894). He also produced many maps for the Baedeker travel guides.
Following his death, in 1899, Heinrich Kiepert’s cartographic work was ably continued by his son, Richard Kiepert (1846 - 1915).
References: [Re: specifically the 1875 edition:] OCLC: 46920098 / 902468022; Zeitschrift der Gesellschaft für Erdkunde zu Berlin (1875), p. 552.