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Expedition to observe the transit of Venus in Siberia

A journey into Siberia ... containing an account of the manners and customs of the Russians, the present state of their empire; with the natural history, and geographical descriptions of their country ...
London, T. Jeffreys, 1770. 4to. With folding map (26.5 x 51.5 cm), partly hand-coloured, and 9 etched plates (1 folding, 8 full-page). Modern sprinkled calf. XIII, [7], 395, [1] pp.
€ 2,000
The first English edition. Abbé Jean Chappe d'Auteroche, a French astronomer, was sent to Siberia to observe the transit of Venus, which was due in June 1761 and had great scientific importance, since it could be used to estimate the size of the solar system. From St Petersburg Chappe d'Auteroche sledged to Tobolosk, where he spent several months, observing the transit and carrying out a large number of scientific measurements. After his return he published his Voyage en Siberie (1768). It describes Siberia's geography, natural history, and the culture of its inhabitants, and sharply condemns Russia's political regime.The plates show native inhabitants in their respective dress, and a view with Russian sledges.
With an ink stamp of a contemporary owner "W*James" on title-page, and manuscript additions and corrections. He appears to have travelled in Siberia himself and took a special interest in low temperature studies. On the plate of the Reaumur and Fahrenheit temperature scales he has drafted extensions below 0 degrees Fahrenheit (down to -198 degrees Fahrenheit) and his annotations give low temperatures recorded at various locations in Siberia. He also reports results of sometimes gruesome low temperature experiments with animals or even (hopefully accidentally) with people. With two edges of the folding map slightly tattered, not affecting the image, but further in very good condition, with only a couple very minor stains. Cat. Russica C495; ESTC T70180; Howgego, to 1800, C101; not in Chavanne.
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