1859-1860. Oblong Folio album (ca. 26,5x40 cm). 13 paper leaves. With 15 mounted pencil drawings, including eight larger ones ca. 22x36 cm (8 ½ x 14 in) and seven smaller ones from ca. 17x19 cm (6 ¾ x 7 ½ in) to ca. 11x18 cm (4 ¼ x 7 in). All but one drawing signed and captioned in period ink on the lower margins or the mounts (eight drawings signed “L.A. K.K.” or “L.K.K.;” four drawings signed by and one attributed to “L.A. Borisov;” and one drawing attributed to V.Y. Borisov by L. Kuzmin-Karavayev). Period ink title on the inner side of the front cover. Owner’s ink inscription in Russian on the upper margin of the first drawing: “This album belongs to Boris Lvovich Kuzmin-Karavayev” (in translation). Period brown quarter sheep with brown cloth boards, spine neatly rebacked. Boards soiled, the ink title partly removed, remnants of paper mounted and removed from the verso of nine leaves, but overall a very good album.
Historically significant collection of rare early original drawings of the Russian naval station on Ashradeh Island and the Russian trading post in the coastal town of Gyaz (Bandar Gaz, northeastern Iran). The Treaty of Turkmenchay concluding the Russian-Persian War of 1826-28 granted Russia the exclusive rights to navigate the Caspian Sea and build fortifications on its coasts. Interestingly, the treaty revoked Persia’s rights to do the same (this and massive land cessions in the Transcaucasia, considered unfair by the Persians, led to Tehran street riots and a massacre of the Russian embassy in 1829). The Russians built a naval station on the Ashradeh Island in the Astrabad (Gorgan) Bay in 1841 to protect the coastal communities and merchant ships from Turkmen pirates. The station consisted of several houses and storage facilities, had a small meteorological depot and a church. The corresponding trading post in Gyaz (Bandar Gaz) on the nearby Persian coast included an office of the “Mercury & Caucasus” trading company and several houses of local merchants, mostly Armenian. The Ashurade station functioned until the Russian Revolution of 1917 and then was abandoned. In 1919 it was destroyed by British expeditionary forces and in 1921 officially returned to Persia by Soviet Russia. Detailed descriptions of the station and the post can be found in: Ogorodnikov, P. Po Persii: Putevye nabliydeniya i zametki// Vestnik Yevropy, 1876, No. 11; Ogorodnikov, P. Na puti v Persiyu i prikaspiyskiye provintsii yeye (SPb., 1878).
The drawings, executed by Russian naval officers stationed in Ashurade in 1859-60, include four interesting views of the island and its facilities, a picture of the trading post in Gyaz, a couple of coastal views, a nice drawing of a “Turkmen brigand boat,” and several portraits of Russian, Persian, Turkmen and Armenian inhabitants of the station and the post. A lovely pencil sketch portraits one of the album’s contributors, Lev Alexandrovich Kuzmin-Karavayev. Overall an important early visual source on the history of the 19th-century Russian naval station in the southwestern Caspian Sea.
Lev Kuzmin-Karavayev was a Russian naval officer who graduated from St. Petersburg Naval Cadet Corps (now St. Petersburg Naval Institute). The subsequent owner of the album was a naval captain Boris Lvovich Kuzmin-Karavayev, who also graduated from the same naval school and was evidently Lev Alexandrovich’s son.
A list of drawings:
1) “A view of the Ashuradeh Island (W. part) and some ships on the raid”. Signed “L.A.K.K.”
2) “Turkmen brigand boat”. Signed “L.K.K.”
3) “The wharf, trading post and the tower on the ‘Pereval’ [Russian trading post in Gyaz - modern-day Bandar Gaz].” Signed “L.K.K.”
4) “A view of the Big Ashur Island from ‘Pereval.’ ” Signed “L.K.K.”
5) “Continuation of the coast from Gyaz, when [Mt.] Damavand can’t be seen.” Signed “L.K.K.”
6) “Ashuradeh Island.” Signed “L.K.K.”
7) “A view of a part of the Ashuradeh Island and the Astrabad Naval Station, [taken] from the “Volga” steamer on the raid. In 1860 drawn by L.K.K.”
8) “Ashuradeh Island.” Signed “L.K.K.”
9) “My portrait made by Borisov (Vlad.[imir] Yevg.[rafovich] in 1860).”
10) “An Armenian. 1860.”; 11) “Types of Persians.” The second drawing signed “A. Borisov.”
12) “Types of Turkmen.” Signed “A. Borisov.”
13) [A sketch portrait of a Russian official and a sketch view of a Russian steamboat]. Unsigned.
14) “Vikt.[or] Nikol.[ayevich] Makarov (1860);” 15) “First impression: Melgunov, Francisca, Lifaryov.” Both drawings signed “A. Borisov.”.
Price: $6,500.00 USD