Our Notes & References
A rich, detailed account of the Amur region in the Russian Far East, describing its history, geology, topography, climate, flora and fauna, as well as the economics and ethnography of the region.
Franz Shperk (1835-1906) came from a medical family, and became a doctor and naturalist himself, like his two brothers, Eduard and Gustav. Upon graduation from the Medical University in Kharkov (nowadays Ukraine), Franz was appointed a district doctor in the city of Olekminsk, on the other side of the empire, in the Yakutsk region. While working as a doctor there from 1867 to 1875, Shperk also followed his passion as a naturalist and studied the geography, ethnography, history, anthropology and climatology of the region.
He conducted detailed observations during these nine years, such as measuring the air temperature three times a day and the water level in the Amur river. His research resulted in the present publication for which he received a Silver Medal from the Russian Geographical Society. Shperk left the Far East at the beginning of the Russo-Turkish war, where he served as a doctor on the sanitary train.
The first part of the work is dedicated to the historical overview of the Far East: from the early settlements to the Cossack conquests and Chinese intervention, to the Russian expansion and scientific explorations of the region. The next three chapters cover the topography, hydrography and climate, publishing a wealth of collected data and statistics. The last three chapters focus on the flora and fauna as well as, at the end, the ethnography and economics of the Far East. A general, 10-page bibliography at the beginning is complemented with other bibliographical sources for each of the main chapters.
The work was published as volume XIV of the series ‘Notes of the Imperial Russian Geographical Society on General Geography’.
A fresh example of a rare work: we are not aware of any example on the Western market in recent years, and we could trace only two copies in WorldCat (UCL in London and one in Japan; apparently none in the Library of Congress (?) nor in the USA).
Library of Congress (binding, stamp “surplus duplicate” to upper pastedown); Avenir Nizoff (a pianist, who lived in Edmonton, Canada, in the second half of the 20th century, and gathered a large, wide-ranging library of Russian works, especially covering art, history and literature).