The World Powers seen from Russia - and bound in Istanbul


Vneshniaia politika Rossii i polozhenie inostrannykh derzhav

[Russia's External Policy and the Position of Foreign States]

Publication: Suvorin, Skt. Peterburg, 1897.

SKALKOVSKII, Konstantin, Vneshniaia politika Rossii i polozhenie inostrannykh derzhav

Wide-ranging and fascinating analysis of the world powers and their relationships with Russia at the turn of the 20th century – with great comments on China and the USA. First edition, bound in Constantinople and with interesting modern provenance.

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First edition of this rigorous and pragmatic overview of late 19th-c. international politics from the Russian perspective. Bound in Constantinople and with interesting provenance.

Konstantin Skalkovskii (1843-1906), Russian economist, mining engineer and theorist, aims in this very informative work to familiarise his readers “with the internal political situations of all the countries” and to determine their most appropriate relations with Russia compared to their actual ones. He structures his book country by country, discussing their political and diplomatic role one after the other.

He starts his analysis with chapters about the great powers (such as France, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Great Britain…), before discussing the “secondary powers”, mostly smaller European countries. The next chapters are structured by geographic areas in the world, and include a variety of countries, such as Turkey, Afghanistan, Persia, Korea, Japan and Australia. Interestingly, the United States are not included in the list of the great world powers, although Skalkovskii is clearly sympathetic to this country: “nowhere [else…] can a striking degree of prosperity be achieved as quickly as in America”. Discussing China, he notes that its role in the world “has grown in extraordinary proportions” over the last 35 years and that the Chinese are “superior to the English in persistence and in speculation to the Jewish, they are learning very quickly the mechanisms of European trade and are therefore very dangerous rivals to Europeans and Americans”.

This extensive overview gives a remarkable insight into the world politics on the verge of the 20th century and especially into Russia’s pragmatic interests from Skalkovskii’s standpoint: “I am little touched and interested in abstract ideas about the common good and brotherhood of nations. This brotherhood is still a long way off, and in the meantime every nation should think about itself, about its own interests and the interests of its friends”.

Rare on the market: we could not find any copy at auctions in the West and only three copies in Russia.

This copy bears the unusual stamp of a Greek binder in Pera, a famous neighbourhood of Constantinople.


Ali ?Dam (gift inscription to upper fly-leaf reading in Russian: “In kind and eternal memory from brother Ali Dam[…] 10/04/1949. Istanbul”); Doctor Kamil ?Arrap (gift inscriptions in Russian to verso of upper flyleaf); The Demidoff family; Boris Berezovsky (ex-libris to upper endpaper).

Item number



Physical Description

Octavo (23.5 x 15 cm). XXIV pp. including half-title and title, 560 pp.


Contemporary purple half-calf over marbled boards by A[lexandros] Samouropoulos, Pera (stamp on upper flyleaf), spine with raised bands, gilt lettering in Russian, marbled endpapers.


Binding slightly rubbed, minor staining on the couple of first and last pages, marginal notes in blue ink on a few pages including title, otherwise very fresh.

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