Atlas Russicus

the milestone 275 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.


Schätze aus dem Kreml – Peter der Große in Westeuropa. 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, Murmansk Atlas Russicus, Archangelsk/St. Petersburg Atlas Russicus, Estonia/Livonia Atlas Russicus, Moscow Atlas Russicus, Smolensk Atlas Russicus, Mesenskaja Atlas Russicus, Little Tartary Atlas Russicus, Yaransky Atlas Russicus, Kazan Atlas Russicus, Volga Atlas Russicus, Kuban/Astrakhan Atlas Russicus, Siberia Atlas Russicus, Ufa/Ural Atlas Russicus, Pechora/Ob/Yenisei Atlas Russicus, Tobolsk/Irtysh Atlas Russicus, Lena/Yakutsia Atlas Russicus, Irkutsk/Lake Baikal Atlas Russicus, Kamtchatka Atlas Russicus, Kurile Islands

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. Occurring copies usually black and white only, at most colored in outline. Uncolored only then also the copy of the spectacular 1991 exhibition, see above.

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). For, so Michael Engelbrecht, specializing in northern history, on occasion of the 275th anniversary of Vitus Bering’s death:

“ Peter the Great … wanted to know his empire minutely. And that requires, too, that one knows the borders ”

(Regina Kusch, Kolumbus des Zaren und Entdecker Sibieriens, Deutschlandfunk, Dec. 19, 2016).

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 de 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 to make the leather a bit more passable 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. 16,278 | price on application

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