Crimean Greek antiquities in red morocco

ASHIK, Anton Baltazarovich

Vosporskoe tsarstvo s ego paleograficheskimi i nadgrobnymi pamiatnikami, raspisnymi vazami, planami, kartami i vidami

[The Bosphorus Kingdom and its Palaeographic Monuments and Tombstones, Painted Vases, Plans, Maps and Views]

Publication: T. Neiman, Odessa, 1848-1849.

ASHIK, Anton Baltazarovich, Vosporskoe tsarstvo s ego paleograficheskimi i nadgrobnymi pamiatnikami, raspisnymi vazami, planami, kartami i vidami

The first significant work on the Greek antiquities on the Black Sea shores. A complete copy of this famous archeological book finely produced in Odessa, here in a luxurious binding. With unusual provenance.

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Our Notes & References

First edition of the first work on Black Sea antiquities, an important, richly illustrated scientific book and a fine production of the presses in Odessa, with the text elegantly printed with various fonts (including much Greek) and within a double frame, and all plates produced by Braun, the leading lithographer in Odessa at the time. These plates show a variety of motives and artefacts, from a view and maps of the region, to tombs and monuments, their structures, vases, art and decorations, jewellery and other archaeological findings.

Scarce complete and in such a luxurious binding: we could trace only one example at auction outside Russia in recent decades, the Imperial, Tsarskoe Selo-Blackmer copy, 15 years ago.

Ashik’s main work, ‘The Bosphorus Kingdom’ is a comprehensive description of the important Greek antiquities (including many excellent vases and tomb frescoes discovered by the author in 1843) found in the area of Kerch in the Crimea. From 1832, Anton Ashik (1801-54) was the curator of a small museum established at Kerch in 1828 to house discoveries made in tombs in the environs of the town.

Kerch was the centre of the successful Greek colony of Panticapaeum in the sixth century BC. Thereafter the area became known as the Kingdom of the Bosphorus. After the damage inflicted on the town during the period of British occupation at the time of the Crimean War, the surviving objects in the museum were moved elsewhere in Russia, principally to the Hermitage in St. Petersburg.

Ashik’s informed and innovative book would soon be followed by two other, but quite different works on the same theme: the larger, more impressive ‘Antiquités du Bosphore cimmérien’ published in St. Petersburg in 1854 and focusing only on the Hermitage collection; and perhaps the more known (and more common) Western work by Macpherson, ‘Antiquities of Kertch’, London, 1857, with only a dozen plates.


The Demidoff-Obolensky family; Boris Berezovsky (1946-2013, Russian businessman and politician; label to upper fly-leaf).


Blackmer 51; Berezin 17 (“Vesma liubopytnoe opisanie […]. Redka”); Obolianinov 113; Solovev kat. 105, 51 (in half-binding only, 25 rub.).

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Physical Description

Three parts in one volume 4to (29.2 x 23.5 cm). Part 1: X pp., including half-title and title, index [2] pp., 117, errata [2] pp., 3 plates (2 folding) and 6 maps (5 folding); Part 2: half-title, title, 88 pp., index [2] pp., 12 plates, including 5 folding; Part 3: XVIII pp., including half-title and title, 96 pp., errata [2] pp., 50 plates, including 21 folding – in all 6 maps and 65 plates lithographed by Braun in Odessa.


Near-contemporary full English dark red grained morocco, covers with gilt and blind-stamped rollwork, spine with raised bands, compartments richly gilt, one with direct gilt lettering in English, red marbled endpapers, red edges


Binding a bit rubbed and marked, upper hinge neatly reinforced; some foxing or browning, occasionally stronger, a couple of plates cut down not affecting the image, occasional staining or marking, penultimate plate bound last.

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