Russian industry before 1917, as seen from the Chicago Expo publication of 1893

I have earlier published a translation of a series of articles When Rouble Was Golden – Russia that we lost in the ashes of WWI and the coup d’etats of 1914-1917.

I am currently perusing in my free time reading of many of the old Russian books – as early as those dating back to 1600, and as a late as 1900. Interestingly, The Russian language of the 1600-1700 is very easy to read only equipped with the knowledge of the modern Russian language, and a few basic rules, which points to an organic development of the language, as opposed to many modern artificial languages (like Ukrainian), where the connection between the generations of language carriers was severed one or several times.

As a curious echo to the retrospective of the pre-revolution Russia, I acme across a 752-page long publication “Factory-industrial produce and trade of Russia”, published in 1893 to the Columbian Expo in Chicago. Here is its opening passage:

Marking the 400 years of the discovery of the New Worlds, the Congress of the Northern-American United States considered it most wise to organise an international competition in the peaceful venue of industry and trade, and with this in mind, this year sees opening of the International Fair in Chicago, called “Columbian” commemorating the name of the jubilant. Russia, heartened by the old sympathies connecting the American and the Russian peoples, responded to the invitation from the North-American Federation with the liveliest eager and participated in the exposition with many and diverse exhibits.

Highlighting is mine – have we ever had it, I wonder? Do we still have it at the grass-root level?

The publication includes much interesting statistics and descriptions of the blossoming Russian industry. The introductory section is written by Dmitrij Medleev, who is best remembers as the Russian chemistry scientist creating the periodic system of elements, though he himself view the creation of the customs system as his greatest achievement.

And now to the icing on the cake – the map of Russia and industrialisation in its different parts:

Legend is as follows: Colour represents the output in millions of the then gold roubles from 1-50 million in lightest to over 200 million in darkest hue.
Numbers in triangles: the population in million people
Thee number is squares from top to bottom are the number of factories/industries that are: exempt from tax, taxed, and mining
Number in the circle is the number of square geographic miles in thousands.
The lines are the railway connections.

As we can see, Moscow region (I) had the highest output and the highest population density, closely followed by the Baltic-Petersburg region (II) with St.Petersburg and Riga as their centres.

Finland (III) had its fair share of industrialisation and quite high output. Finland was on a position of a confederation subject within the Russian Empire, and a whole section of the publication is dedicated for Finland.

Another highly-industrialised area of Russia was Pre-Visla region with Warsaw as its centre.

The Southern region (IX) and Malorossia (XIII) with Rostov, Harkov and Kiev as their centres follow.

Note the railway, connecting Moscow and Simferopol in Crimea – it was built for the money that Russia received from the sale of Alaska to the Northern-American United States.

Even the contents at the top level of the Sections speaks volumes in that historical publication:

  1. Introduction and overview by D. Mendeleev
  2. Manufacturing industry
  3. Paper pruduction
  4. Leather production
  5. Rubber production
  6. Wood processing
  7. Manufacture of metal products
  8. Mechanical engineering
  9. Gglassmaking
  10. Ceramic production
  11. Chemical industry (this one is also written by D. Mendeleev)
  12. Match production
  13. Oil industry (also by D. Mendeleev)
  14. Cement production
  15. Sugar production
  16. Brewery and fermenting pruduction
  17. Tobacco produce
  18. Foods production (flour and oil)
  19. Shipbuilding and shipping
  20. Transportation production (incl. rubber tires)
  21. Overview of the Russian customs tariff system (by Timirjazjev)
  22. The foreign trade
  23. Domestic trade and fairs in Russia
  24. Fuel consumption for industrial purposes
  25. Wages and working hours in factories
  26. Industry Of The Grand Duchy Of Finland

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