Atlas  Russicus

the  milestone  272  years  ago



of  all  the  quality  of  its  age

as  extremely  seldom  only



Russia  Leather  Binding

De L’Isle – Atlas Rvssicvs … Vastissimvm Imperivm Rvssicvm cum adiacentibvs Regionibvs. Under the supervision of Leonhard Euler and Gottfried Heinsius ed. by the Imperial Academy of Sciences in Petersburg. Petersburg, the author, 1745. Large folio. 16 pp. With

general  map  folded  several  times

Atlas Russicus, general map


19  double  full-page  detail  maps

(c. 19¼-19¾ × 22 and 22¼ × 38⅝ in [49-50 × 56 and 56.5 × 98 cm] resp.) after Joseph Nicolas De L’Isle (1688 Paris 1768) and others,

all  in  copperplate  engraving  with  contemporary  flat  coloring .


Atlas Russicus / Russia Leather Binding

Ruby  Red  Yuft  Leather  Volume

with four decorative ribs enclosed by fillets, running over cover fillets, title stamp L’Empire de Russie on front and large double anchor of the contemporary Petersburg arms (1730-1856) as centerpiece on back cover, the lower part of its river anchor as corner pieces of both covers, all 23.5 carat gilt tooled, black backplate, brown pastedown & fly-leaf with gilt stampings, including on the back pastedown large ligated RS monogram as brand of the Red Series here as centerpiece as well as stamped red series and niemeyer fine arts resp. on the inner lower edges & JayAitchDesign on the back lower edge. Paled marble color edge. In uniform half yuft slipcase (20⅞ × 13 × 1⅛ in [53 × 33 × 3 cm]), the black Efalin paper cover coating of which

Atlas Russicus

repeat  Petersburg’s  Double  Anchor  in  gilt .

  Yuft ,Russia Leather was originally a speciality of Russia, where it was made from the hides of young cattle … The empyreumatic odour of the old genuine ‘Russia’ leather was derived from a long-continued contact with willow and the bark of the white birch, which contains the odorous betulin oil … After tanning and setting out the goods are treated with the empyreumatic oil obtained by the dry distillation of birch bark (birch tar oil) … The leather, if genuine quality,

is  very  watertight  and  strong ,

and owing to its impregnation with the empyreumatic oil,

it  wards  off  the  attacks  of  insects ”

(Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th ed., XVI [1911], page 340).


Bagrow-Castner II, pp. 177-253; Phillips 4060 (erroneously or originally not belonging to with additional 4 ll. preliminaries, otherwise together with additional war maps); Goldenberg + Postnikov, Development of Mapping Methods in Russia in the 18th century, in IMAGO MUNDI XXXVII, 63-80; Nitsche-Stender 141; Lexikon der Kartographie 688; Teleki, Atlas zur Geschichte der Kartographie der japanischen Inseln pl. 17,1 (pl. 19 of the atlas); Niemeyer, Rußlands Aufbruch in die Moderne – Peter der Große und die Entwicklung der russischen Kartographie, Bonn 1991, 5 + illustrations.


(Treasures from the Kremlin – Peter the Great in Western Europe). Bremen, Übersee-Museum, 1991 (18 weeks incl. extension). – Catalog no. 158 (uncolored copy).


Atlas Russicus, Bibliography + Title

compiled  and  published  in  Saint Petersburg

by  the

Imperial  Academy  of  Sciences

founded  by  Peter  in  1725 .

Title + text – description of the maps regarding bordering, origin, accuracy and execution of surveying, transcription of the Russian alphabet; partly detailed Russian explanations of words; engraved rich conventional signs and symbols up to salterns + hot springs, this by the way engraved – in Latin + French parallel text (a Russian + German-language version still of the same year with fewer text preliminaries = Phillips 4059 and 3109 resp. each with erroneous comment to map 19 “showing the extreme point of Alaska and the Aleutian islands”, recte on the contrary Kamchatka + Kurile Islands).

Text part with the Honig watermarks HONIG / IV & large fleur de lis with crown with ligated pendant WR. – One map trimmed within the lower margin of the map, but without injuring of the subject itself, 5 maps trimmed on or with loss of upper or lower borderline resp., 1 map each trimmed within the white platemark at loss of miles indicator and numbering resp. Otherwise only isolated small backed margin tears and two not disturbing tear offs.

The  deep  coloring

Atlas Russicus, Archangelsk/St. Petersburg

of  all  the  quality  of  its  age

with the cartouches, as frequently with contemporarily colored old atlases up to the legendary Atlas of the Great Elector, left in black and white.

Uncolored  only

the  copy  of  the  spectacular  1991  exhibition (see above) ,

uncolored  only  auch

the copy on larger paper sold with Sotheby’s at 2-6-2006  at  the  price  of  25700  Euro  (18000 £) .

As  the  first  genuine  complete  atlas  of  Russia

Atlas Russicus - Premier Atlas Russien complet

the  decisive  milestone

on  the  way  to  modern  Russia :

“ Russian mapping, sponsored by Peter the Great – who for instance during an expedition to the coast of Kamchatka in 1719 dispatched two officers of his fleet to answer

the  question  posed  by  Leibniz

with  respect  to  a  nexus  between  Asia & America –

and his associates, is known to have followed the way of intensive scientific development in connection with the state reforms and an active foreign policy in the 18th century. The fulfillment of new economic, administrative, cultural, military, and political tasks, conditioned by the developments of productive forces, required comprehensive studies of the country as well as the compilation and use of new complete and accurate maps. The creation of the All-Russian market necessitated the compiling of general maps and atlases while an expansion of economic relations between different regions generated a need for more detailed maps of particular areas. From the point of view of the history of cartography, we can find in this period a rich field for studying the process of transition from the national traditional methods of large-scale mapping (drawings) to surveys and map construction on a scientific base.

This  process  required  the  creative  reworking
of  the  West-European  cartographic  methods
by  Russian  cartographers  as  well  as  application
of  the  national  mapping  traditions
to  the  conditions  of  a  vast  area  of  the  country “


This was the object of the most highly patronized works of the geographical department of the Academy of Sciences founded by Peter the Great (1672-1725) who is also supposed to be one of the authors of the famous “punkty” – “The first official instructions on land survey and map-making” – of 1721. During his first stay in the Netherlands he also learned the art of engraving (“… learned under the direction of 17-year-old Marie de Wilde (daughter of the merchant and collector Jacobus de W. in Amsterdam to whom he was on friendly terms) the use of the etching-needle … what he wanted to get from such work was, just as with shipbuilding: To learn the crafts needed in Russia … engraving and etching is tightly connected with printing maps …”, Gerson, Ausbreitung und Nachwirkung der holländischen Malerei … p. 516). His “merits in the propagation of geographical knowledge” K. E. von Baer investigated (St. Petersburg, 1872; but see also K. Waliszewski, Peter the Great, N.Y. 1897, p. 435).

Sought  was  an  utterly  new  map  survey

subject to astronomically set fixed points. At the head of the western astronomers and geographers called to Russia was J. N. Delisle who worked there from 1725-47 and whose astronomical school founded at the Academy produced several Russian astronomers of high repute while his works for the atlas of 1745 – preceded by Ivan Kirilov’s less decisive one of 1734 – suffered by friction. And “against the ban he copied all Russian maps and sent them secretly to Paris where they now form ( – but without the General Map – ) a valuable collection” (Bagrow-Skelton). He was simply reputed as “the French expert of Russia” (Galkovich). But he also was reproached for working too slow. A lack of currentness caused by this and poor accuracy then were the reasons for him why he did not like to see his name being related to the atlas. Just as M. V. Lomonosov criticized :

“ Having looked at the archives and the published Atlas it is easy to understand how much more accurate and complete it could have been ”

(Coll. works, Moscow 1955, IX, 258).

Assigned to Delisle as assistant was  Gottfried  Heinsius  (Naumburg/Saale 1709 – Leipsic 1769), 1736 called to Petersburg as associate professor of astronomy and member of the Academy, who still in the year of publication followed a nomination to Leipsic. See Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie XI, 656.

The detail maps 1-13 (1 : 1,527,000) covering the European part of Russia constructed markedly larger as against the 6 ones of the Asian part (1 : 3,360,000) – east of rivers Irtysh/Ob, but still up to the Pechora delta – and besides adorned with mostly richly figurative-instructive title-cartouches. The Asian maps furnished with just a title ribbon. Whether this has to be attributed to the economical importance and the degree of acquaintance then or expression of the request for a more precipitate completion of the works as criticized as inappropriate by Delisle may be left undecided here.

Of  special  historic  interest

Atlas Russicus, Volga-Don Canal

the  entrance  of  the  Volga-Don  Canal

plotted on the Volga district map. First the version as outlined in 1697 during a conversation between Leibniz and the Russian ambassador Golovin. It connects the tributaries Ilovlya + Kamyshenka and bases on a venture started by Sultan Selim II in 1568 and is also to be found in the manuscript map mentioned above, but not in the general map of the atlas. In print this version appears for the first time on a special map in Cornelis Cry’s atlas of the River Don of 1703/04. Then, somewhat southern, the connection Zarizyn (Volgograd) – Kachalinsk first appearing in the great manuscript travel map of Russia of c. 1683 and almost similar to the course of the canal completed in 1952. For more see Leo Bagrow, The Volga-Don Canal, in I. M. X, 97 f.

Of further extraordinary importance for the development of cartography

the  supposedly  first  representation  of  the  Kurile Islands

Atlas Russicus, Kurile Islands

as  a  chain  of  named  islands  in  uninterrupted  sequence

stretching between northern Japan – the northern tips of which at the map’s lower edge – and Kamchatka. The disputed islands in the south of the chain correctly set off a little and situated closer to Japan. Thus without the obscure Staaten Island, Terre de la Compagnie and Terre de Jean da Gama still found in the maps by Kirilov and Haas, but also other, partly substantially later maps, practically making up the entire southern half of the chain of islands and besides by their placement, especially in the earlier maps, rather suggesting a yet also still largely unknown Aleutian Range come too far south. Besides “for instance not all results of the ‘Great Northern Expedition’ (1733-1742/3) were evaluated in it” (Bagrow-Skelton, Meister der Kartographie [1963], page 251).

For  the  mere  cartographical  rank  of  the  atlas 

see Goldenberg-Postnikov’s résumé:

“ Atlases, maps and large scale plans become the principal basis for the development of topographic maps. They remain as remarkable monuments of the history of Russian cartography created by the toilers of field cartography … From the point of view of studying the maps of Russia of the 18th century as historico-geographical sources, the cartographic materials of general land survey are undoubtedly the most abundant and valuable sources in spite of their relative imperfections. ”

And  especially  of  present  atlas

“ … Delisle’s contemporaries … had a very high opinion … and

the  famous  German  scholar  Euler

pointed  it  out  to  his  fatherland  as  example

for  then  there  was  no  such  complete  atlas  of  Germany  yet ”

(Bagrow-Skelton in the same place).

Atlas Russicus, Mesenskaja

The  area  comprised  in accordance with the borders in the reign of Elizaveta Petrovna, daughter of Peter (1709-62, czarina since 1741). In the east up to Bering Strait, with the Kurile Islands and northern  Japan,  in the SE the complete River Amur district later acquired by Alexander II (czar since 1855) down to today’s Vladivostok. Apart from that in the south up to the headwaters of Kerulen, Selenga & Irtysh – Caspian southern shore – River Arax , then crossing the Black Sea on about the line Trabzon – Constanca , westerly up to Kiev – Memel – Helsinki with parts of Finland – Norwegian border area . In the north up to about 85° northern latitude .

All  in  all

the  document  of  a  setting-out

into  modernity


contemporarily  colored  copy .

L'Empire de Russie (Atlas Russicus, Vorderdeckel)

In  Russia  leather .

As  for  niemeyer’s  only  befitting .

But an art of its own. Started by a Scorpio-like stubborn desire towards contractors to wish this and no other leather, towards specialists – big Thank you to Fortuna Spezialmaschinen GmbH in Weil der Stadt – to make the leather a little more passably for the lamenting bookbinder, and just towards the latter himself. For yuft is just yuft, see above.

Feel this  leather  then !  Experience its odor standing out uniquely from the ordinary binding leather as well as its strength, even if there had to be made subtracts of this with the result of a fine marbling :

юфть / Yuft !

Ruby red  yuft ! Leather of a different range. Of different pretensions. Be proud !

Offer no. 15,684 / price on application

The Red Series - a creation of lüder h. niemeyer The Red Series - a creation of lüder h. niemeyer