[Russia, China, Japan, Korea, Alaska]
1867 (dated) 30 x 48 in (76.2 x 121.92 cm)
This is a highly unusual 1867 or Keiō 3 Japanese lithograph map of Asia and Alaska. The map covers from the Caspian Sea and Nova Zembla to Alaska as far as Prince of Wales Island and Sitka. It embraces most of the Russian Empire in Asia including Alaska, which had recently been annexed to the United States. It also includes China, Korea, and most of Japan. Superb delineation of topography throughout using a curious and unique contouring system that we have not previously seen.
The focus of the map is on Japanese concerns regarding both the Russian expansion into Central Asia and East Asia and the American expansion towards Asia through the March 30, 1867 annexation of Alaska. The map's annotations focus on primarily on Russian expansionism in Central Asia. Russian forces, under General Mikhail Grigorievich Chernyayev (1828-1898), called the Lion of Tashkent, and Tsar Alexander II (1818 – 1881) moved into the Tashkent region in the summer of 1866. The map notes, in particular, the pillaging of Khujand (Tajikistan) on June 5th and Jizzakah on July 2nd, 1866. Annotations also stress the August 6, 1865 reorganization of Russian military might into three districts: the Central Military District, the West Siberia Military District, and the East Siberia Military Districts.
On the opposite side of the map, a note in Alaska refers the March 30, 1867 sale of Russian America to the United States. The purchase of Alaska, then believed to be useless and mostly uninhabitable land, was referred to as 'Seward's Folly' after the American Secretary of State, William H. Seward, who negotiated the treaty.
From a Japanese perspective, this map highlights an expansionist trend on the part of European and American powers towards East Asia, a region the Japanese were increasingly considering their territory. While not yet of serious concern, the encroachment of western powers into East Asia was, at the very least, something to keep an eye on. Russian expansionism into East Asia would continue throughout the 19th century until it met with Japanese expansionism in Manchuria and Korea, leading to the outbreak of the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905).This map is most likely based upon a Russian source map commissioned by General M. G. Cherniaev (1828-1898). Nonetheless, we have been unable to locate any further references to this map, or anything similar in Russian archives. It was published by Matashiro Maeda at the instruction of Matsudaira Nuhinokami. This map is extremely rare. We are aware of no other examples.
Very good. A few verso repairs and reinforcements.