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- This work containing 14 maps is the first complete atlas of Latvia and Estonia. The compiler of the atlas, Count Ludwig August Mellin (1754-1835), was a Baltic German who was born in Tuhala, Estonia, then a province of the Russian Empire. On a visit to Riga in 1782, Crown Prince Paul of Russia reportedly asked to see a map showing the location of the Livonian division of the Russian Army. When it turned out that no such map existed, Mellin, then a young officer in the army trained in technical drawing, was asked to draw one. Having become interested in maps in this way, Mellin undertook what became a 28-year effort to produce this atlas. In addition to the coastline, islands, and settlements, his maps show roads, administrative divisions, and features of the terrain. To compile his atlas, Mellin used the maps of the Russian Academy of Sciences and military topographers, but mostly relied on manor house maps. Mellin’s maps were issued by a Riga bookseller, but were engraved abroad, so that at one point he was accused of revealing state secrets and arrested. In 1798, Tsar Paul I issued an order stopping the sale of the maps and ordering the return of copies in private possession. Mellin was regarded as a friend of the Latvian and Estonian peoples, whose history and culture he valued and sought to preserve.
Johann Friedrich Hartknoch, Riga, Latvia
Title in Original Language
[Atlas von Liefland, oder von den beyden Gouvernementern u. Herzogthümern Lief- und Ehstland, und der Provinz Oesel]
Type of Item
- 1 atlas (14 sheets) : illustrated, hand colored maps ; 70 x 71 centimeters or smaller
- Sheet titles and legends in German and French. Geographic features in German.