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Birth of Alexander D. Chertkov, Russian scholar, archaeologist, historian, numismatist, bibliophile

30 June 1789

June 19 (30), 1789, in Voronezh, was born Alexander Dmitrievich Chertkov, Russian scientist, archaeologist, historian, numismatist, bibliophile, chairman of the Moscow Society of Russian History and Antiquities, founder of Chertkov’s library.

Alexander came from an old Russian noble family. His father, Dmitry Chertkov, served as marshal of the nobility in Voronezh, his mother, Evdokia Tevyasheva, was the daughter of a colonel, the famous rich man, collector of books Stepan Ivanovich Tevyashev. Paternal grandfather, Vasily Chertkov, from 1782 to 1793 was the governor of Voronezh, Kharkov and Saratov.

Alexander was educated at home. Among his mentors was a teacher of Voronezh public school, later - professor of Kharkov University, Gabriel Uspensky, author of "Experience of narration about Russian Antiquities" (1801).

In 1808, Chertkov arrived in St. Petersburg and was hired by the Department of the Interior Ministry. However, a year later he left the service and entered the Life Guards Horse Regiment. He took part in the Patriotic War of 1812 and foreign campaigns. He distinguished himself in the battles of Kulm and Ferchampenuaz. After retiring in 1822, Alexander Chertkov spent two years in Europe, traveling to Austria, Switzerland and Italy. While in Florence, he met an Italian scientist, priest Sebastiano Chyampi owing to whom became interested in the study of Italian antiquities.

Back in Russia, Chertkov settled in Moscow. However, with the outbreak of hostilities with Turkey, in 1828 he again entered the military service, taking part in the campaign as part of the Archduke Ferdinand Hussar Regiment.

Having completely retired due to illness in 1829, Alexander Chertkov settled in Moscow, occasionally traveling abroad and to his estates. He took an active part in the social life of the city: was elected representative the nobility of the county (1835), and then of the province (1844); twice, in 1836 and 1846, was elected honorary trustee of the Moscow provincial schools. He was one of the initiators of founding in Moscow a School of Painting and Sculpture, was a member of the Board; was a member of the commission approved by the emperor to build the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow.

Even during overseas trips, Alexander Chertkov started to take notes, put there extracts from the books he had read, preferring the works on Russian and Slavic history. Living in Moscow and performing numerous duties, Alexander found time for studies and literary activities. Due to his contacts with G. I. Fischer von Valgeym, Chertkov collected a large mineralogical study, a collection of butterflies. But gradually, the main object of his scientific interest became Russian history, as well as collecting and study of antiquities, documents, books, coins, medals.

Chertkov is the author of many studies, including, in the first place, "Description of old Russian coins" (Moscow, 1834) with subsequent additions (in 1837 and 1838) , drawn up on the basis of studying his own collection of coins, as well as collections of N. Golovin and Count S. G. Stroganov. "Description" was the first scientific paper on Russian numismatics, which developed a systematic approach to cataloging, laid foundation for further studies. The Academy of Sciences awarded Chertkov full Demidov Prize for his research, which the author refused, having granted the funds to prepare the publication of the Ostromir Gospel.

Scientific work of Alexander Chertkov was highly appreciated by his contemporaries: in April 1836, he was elected vice-president of the Imperial Society of Russian History and Antiquities, was a member of the Odessa Society of History and Antiquities (1841), Imperial Academy of Sciences (1842). From October 1847, Chertkov was an honorary member of the Imperial Russian Archaeological Society, and from 1849 to 1857 - President of the Imperial Society of Russian History and Antiquities.

Alexander Chertkov inherited a rich book collection of his father and grandfather. Constantly replenishing it during his scientific research, he came to the idea to build up a library to bring together all the works on the history of Russia, including in foreign languages; make it accessible to scholars, lovers of Russian history. In 1838, on the basis of his own collection, he prepared and issued "The Universal Library of Russia, or the Catalog of books to study our country in all respects and details." Composed in accordance with all the rules of bibliographic description of the time, the catalog contained footnotes to almost every publication; indexes of names of authors, translators, publishers. In 1845, "The second supplement" was issued. The library was constantly enriched with new copies, and by the end of life of its holder contained about nine and a half thousand works, including publications in foreign languages, Slavic dialects. In addition, there also were manuscripts, documents, letters, coins. Before the creation of «Rossica» deparment in the Imperial Public Library in St. Petersburg, Chertkov’s library was the only collection of books devoted to the study of the history of Russia and Slavic peoples.

Among the visitors to the library of Chertkov were famous writers and scientists, such as V. A. Zhukovsky, N. V. Gogol, N. P. Pogodin, L. N. Tolstoy and others.

Alexander D. Chertkov died 10 (22) November, 1858, and was buried at the Vagankovsky cemetery in Moscow.

In 1863, the son of Alexander, Grigory Chertkov, fulfilling the will of his father, opened a free private city public library of Chertkov in Moscow, which, in 1873, he donated to the city of Moscow. Later, the book collection formed the basis of the State Public Historical Library.

Lit.: Несколько слов о Чертковской библиотеке. М.,1862. Фролова М. М. Александр Дмитриевич Чертков (1789-1858). М., 2007. Банников А. П., Сапожников С. А. Собиратели хранители прекрасного: энциклопедический словарь российских коллекционеров от Петра I до Николая II. 1700-1918. М., 2007, с. 535-536.

From the Presidential library materials:

Чертков А. Д. Всеобщая библиотека России, или Каталог книг для изучения нашего отечества во всех отношениях и подробностях. Ч. 1. М., 1838;

Чертков А.Д. Описание посольства, отправленного в 1659 году от царя Алексея Михайловича к Фердинанду II-му, великому герцогу Тосканскому. М., 1840;

Чертков А.Д. О числе русского войска, завоевавшего Болгарию и сражавшегося с греками во Фракии и Македонии, в 967-971 годах. Одесса, 1842;

Чертков А.Д. Описание войны великого князя Святослава Игоревича против болгар и греков в 967-971 годах. М., 1843.