Carlisle: Printed by George Philips, 1817. Two parts in one. 8vo in-4. xvi, [ii], -617,  pp. FIRST AMERICAN EDITION. Lacking the frontispiece, but with half-titles to each part present. Later quarter calf and marbled boards with red morocco spine label; interior browning with the occasional stain, marginal loss to upper corners of leaves M3, M4, and Z4, and a light damp stain affecting the last few signatures. Item #15018
First American edition (a reprint of the first English translation published in London, 1813-14). In 1803, Adam Johann Ritter von Krusenstern set out from Kronstadt, Russia on what would become the first Russian circumnavigation of the globe. Langsdorff accompanied the expedition as a naturalist and physician, but parted ways with the crew in 1805 upon reaching Kamchatka - a peninsula in far eastern Russia - continuing on to explore the Aleutian Islands and Alaska. In 1806 he sailed from Sitka to the Spanish presidio at San Francisco. He provides detailed descriptions of the region (the original German edition of 1812 actually included a plate that is the first published view of San Francisco) and of his meeting with commandant José Argüello. The visit resulted in the famed romance between Count Nikolay Rezanov of the Russian-American Company, who had traveled with Langsdorff, and Concepción de Argüello, the Spanish commander’s daughter, immortalized in literature by Bret Harte, Gertrude Atherton, and others throughout the years. In addition to his descriptions of these places, Langsdorff also includes accounts of Brazil, Japan, Hawaii and Alaska. “Langsdorff’s account is rich in descriptions of the peoples and cultures visited, and his descriptions of the Marquesans is particularly important and has become something of a classic” (Hill). The section on the vocabulary of various Ainu tribes is also of great interest.
Langsdorff (1774-1852) was a German-Russian naturalist who trained in both medicine and natural history in Germany. Langsdorff was responsible for the eventual founding of Fort Ross by the Russian-American Company in 1812. Langsdorff and Rezanov, successful in obtaining supplies, returned to Sitka and then proceeded to Siberia and then overland to St. Petersburg. Langsdorff was thereafter made consul general of Russia in Rio de Janeiro and later led an expedition on the Amazon with a team of scientists. Though he was unable to complete the journey due to a serious illness, the team managed to collect a vast array of specimens and gather a wealth of information about the various tribes that they encountered. Their findings remain at the Academy of Sciences at St. Petersburg today.