A Map of the Orenburgh Expedition, with the Russian Frontiers towards Independent Tartary, made in Orenburgh in 1747.
9.25 x 19.25 in (23.495 x 48.895 cm)
1 : 4056307
This fascinating map, engraved by John Gibson in 1753, depicts modern-day southern Russia, along the empire's contentious frontier with the lands of the Kazakh and Oirat tribes. These and other tribes from what the map terms 'Independent Tartary' made regular incursions into Russian territory, and the first part of the 18th century was characterized by Russia's efforts to stem those incursions. Among these efforts was the construction of the Irtysh line, a series of fortifications clearly shown on this map spanning the Volga and the Irtysh Rivers, for much of the distance following the north bank of the Ural, or Yaik river. The map distinguishes between those fortifications already constructed, and those which were yet intended to be built.
A Little Known RegionThis map, included by Jonas Hanway in his An Historical Account of the British Trade Over the Caspian Sea, was one among several derived from Russian sources supplementing the results of his own travels to the Caspian. These, combined with a multiplicity of travelers' journals and the maps of other explorers, formed an exhaustive collection of the most up to date geographical sources for this area, making it one of the most obscure regions in the world. The map encompasses the Republics of Tartaristan and Bashkortostan, and the Oblasts of Ulyanovsk, Samara, Orenberg, Tyuman and part of Omsk. It represented the remotest part of Russia at the time: for example, Tobolsk - the capital of Siberia - would be the town to which Swedish officer and geographer Philipp Johann von Strahlenberg would be exiled from 1711 to 1721. Hanway's travelogue being largely intended to show the suitability of the Caspian Sea as an access to the Indian Ocean, it may well be that his inclusion of this map was an effort to show the utter futility of attempting a land passage this far east.
Orenburgh and the Orenbergh ExpeditionIvan Kirillovich Kirilov (Иван Курилов, 1689 - 1737), the father of Russian Cartography, took part in Shestakov's expedition to Kamchatka between 1731 and 1733. The experience led him to appreciate the economic and strategic opportunities offered Russia in assessing her more remote provinces. In 1734, he proposed the creation of an administrative center to aid the assessment and exploitation of Russia's southeastern frontier regions. The ambitious project called for the construction of fortresses and even cities in order to extend Russia's influence and the reach of her geographers. To this end, the city of Orenburg was constructed in the southern Urals in 1735, the site having been chosen by Kirilov himself. Specifically, his intent was '...opening up transit routes to Bukhara, Badakhshan, Bulk, and to India'. Kirilov died in 1737, but the bureaucracy he established lived on under new administrators. After several false starts, Orenburg was re-founded in 1743, at the juncture of the Yaik (Ural) and the Sakmara rivers, its present location. From that time on, Orenburg functioned as both a military and administrative center on the Kazakh frontier. Exploration in the Caspian region fell within Orenberg's sphere of influence. Even the work of English merchant explorers like Woodroofe and Elton would inform the geographical information compiled at Orenberg. This did not guarantee, however, that the material disseminated by the Expedition would be state-of-the-art: the maps based on the Orenberg Expedition that came to Jonas Hanway fell far short of his own maps of the Caspian and the Aral Sea published in the same work.
Publication History and CensusThe chart was engraved by John Gibson in 1753 for inclusion in Jonas Hanway's An Historical Account of the British Trade over the Caspian Sea. We are aware of three editions of the work; this example appeared in the third. We see eight examples of the complete work in institutional collections. We see only one example of this map catalogued in OCLC, in the 1753 issue, at the Bibliotheque National de France.
Jonas Hanway (August 12, 1712 - September 5, 1786), was an English philanthropist, traveller, and writer. He was apprenticed in 1729 to a merchant in Lisbon, but in 1743 he became partner to merchant and member of the British Russia Company Robert Dingley (1710 - 1780) who was based in St. Petersburg. This led to the travels in Russia, Central Asia, and Persia which would inform Hanway's (copious) writing on the topic of British trade in the Caspian Sea, which would earn him the attentions of scholar Charles Wilson who hailed him 'one of the most indefatigable and splendid bores of English history.' On his return to London his narrative brought him some fame and success, and thereafter he remained in the city devoted to good causes and good citizenship. He founded The Marine Society in 1756 (a charity supporting inland youths wishing to go to sea.) He was instrumental in the aid of various hospitals; arranged improvements in Londons's birth registration system; and in 1762 he was appointed a commissioner for victualling the navy. Hanway was an eccentric and a gadfly. He protested, voluminously, the English practice of tea drinking, both on the grounds of its effect on the health and on the balance of foreign trade. He was the first male Londoner to carry an umbrella. This shocking move drew the opprobrium of fellow Londoners who objected to the effeminate, French contraption, and the ire of hansom cab drivers who quite correctly identified the invention as a threat to their trade (rainstorms caused Londoners to flock to hansom cabs as a sheltered means of transport.) He died unmarried. A monument to his memory stands in Westminster Abbey, praising his works of charity. It discusses neither umbrellas nor tea. Learn More...
John Gibson (1724 – 1773) was an English map engraver active in London at the end of the 18th century. Gibson was the son of a locksmith. In 1739 he apprenticed to John Blundell as a stationer of Grub Street. Gibson proved a fine engraver and was much in demand by London map publishers. During his career he produced thousands of maps and was admired as a skilled engraver and sculptor. Among others, he engraved for Emanuel Bowen, Robert Sayer, Jean Palairet, John Rocque, Andrew Dury, and Benjamin Martin. His best known work was prepared in conjunction with Gentleman's Magazine. Gibson, sadly, was not as astute in his fiscal affairs as with the engravers pen and consequently spent much of his life consigned to debtor's prison. Learn More...
Hanway, Jonas, An Historical Account of the British Trade over the Caspian Sea with the Author's Journal of Travels from England through Russia into Persia; and back through Russia, Germany and Holland, (London) 3rd Edition, 1762.
Very good. Original folds visible. Faint toning, else excellent.