Maak, R.K. Atlas to «Travel on the Amur river made by order of the Siberian department of the Emperor’s Russian Geographical Society in 1855». Saint-Petersburg, S.F. Soloviev, 1859. Title-page, 24 (17 lithograph. vues + 6 ethonographical tables + colourful frontispieace-vignette) lithographs hand-coloured at that time and 10 lithograph. double-page botanical drawings and 4 maps, plans. In a soft lithograph. original folder which is inserted into a paperboard-leatherette folder with gold lettering on the front cover. Complete copy. Format: grand folio, 57x38,5 cm. Rarity!
Maak, Richard Karl (1825-1886). A Russian geographer and natural scientist, explorer of Siberia and the Far East. German by origin, native of the town of Arensbourg, now Kingisepp, Estonia. After graduating from Petersburg university in 1852, went to serve at the Central Department of Eastern Siberia where he was assigned to the position of teacher of natural sciences in an Irkutsk gymnasium. But already after one year, in 1854/55, he was appointed head of the big expedition to the Vilyui river from the Siberian division of the Russian Geographical Society, which was the first one to describe the orography, geology and everyday life of the people inhabiting the area near the rivers Vilyui, Olekma and Chona. A journey in the Vilyui region lasted for two years. R.K. Maak and his companions made an over 8 thousand km long way through a footless taiga. The expedition resulted in a geographical map of the basin of the river Vilyui and other places, a description of the relief, deposits of brown coal and other ore minerals. Also, a large number of botanical, ethnographic and historical materials were collected.
Soon after the return from the first expedition, R.K. Maak was invited to participate in a new journey to the Amur river. In April 1855, the expedition started its trip. They started a description of the Amur basin from the Shilka river. Having reached by boat Mariinsk, they turned back up the river Amur. The boats were pulled by a rope, and R.K. Maak went along the shore describing the nature and gathering collections. In autumn of the same year, the expedition reached Blagoveshchensk and returned to Irkutsk on horses. A famous gold manufacturer Stepan Fedorovich Soloviev donated eight kilos of gold for the ammunition for the scientific expedition to Amur Territory and ten thousand roubles for publishing the Maak’s description of the journey.
From Irkutsk Maak went to Petersburg to prepare a report about the journey. The natural and historical collections gathered by him, were so enormous that the Geographical Society had to invite several renowned scientists for their processing. Maak himself wrote a detailed report about the journey in which he predicted to Amur-Ussuriisk Territory a big future.
Drawing from the album made in two tones on the Chinese paper were made by Meyer from the original drawings of Gunn and Bogomolov, who participated in the expedition, and were lithographed and printed in Paris where the biggest part of them was sold before they appeared in the market in Moscow and Saint-Petersburg. A magnificent edition of the Maak’s book, as the first Russian description of the Amur Territory, will remain for a long time a sought-after item in among scientists and collectors of the Russian enlightened society.