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LATVIA / ESTONIA: Карта Рижского залива с Моон-Зундом, составлена с описей 1843-1859. [Karta Rizhskago Zaliva s Moon Zundom, sostavlena s opisej 1843-1859]. (‘Chart of Riga Bay with Moon Sound, compiled from inventories 1843-1859.’)


A rare and highly attractive 19th Century sea chart of the coasts of Latvia and Estonia, by the Russian Maritime Ministry, with Toponymy in Cyrillic.

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This large and finely detailed sea chart focuses on the Gulf of Riga and the West Estonian Islands (also known as the Moon Sound Archipelago: Saaremaa, Hiiumaa, Muhu) and extends from Ventspils, Lativa to Meremõisa, Estonia, just west of Talinn.  Prominently featured are Riga (today the capital of Latvia) and Pärnu, Estonia. Pärnu is further detailed in the large inset in the upper right, with its even grid of streets bound within fortified walls.  With toponymy written entirely in Russian Cyrillic, the chart feature copious amounts of nautical information, including bathymetric soundings, the locations of shoals and hazards and magnetic declination.  One of the finest attributes of the chart, is its inclusion of vignettes depicting almost three dozen lighthouses in the region, with the radii of their lights marked on the chart.


The chart is based on exhaustive surveys conducted by the Hydrographic Department of the Russian Maritime Ministry, between 1843 and 1859.  The Baltic Countries were then part of the Russian Empire, and the area was of particular importance to both commercial shipping and naval strategy.  Riga, Pärnu, Ventspils and Haapsalu were key ports and, vitally, the region guarded the maritime approaches to the Russian capital of St. Petersburg.


The first edition of the chart was printed in 1862, while the present edition was issued in 1895, featuring many corrections and improvements gained from surveys in the interceding 33 years.


The chart in any edition is very rare, we were able to locate only two institutional examples (a 1876 edition and a 1914 edition), both at the National Library of Estonia, and could locate no sales records from the last generation.


References: Eesti Rahvusraamatukogu (National Library of Estonia): b2009996 (1876 ed.) and b22356368 (1914 ed.).

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