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Gallery: Mandated by Law

Nearly 2,000 rare etchings, engravings, and lithographs issued as special edition supplements to Polnoe sobranie zakonov Rossiiskoi imperii [Complete Collection of Laws of Imperial Russia] provide examples of some of the areas regulated by the Russian government under the tsars. Although the supplements primarily illustrate items related to government bureaucracy during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, laws contained in Polnoe sobranie zakonov cover legal, political, economic, administrative, and cultural matters from 1647 to 1913. The items were purchased by the School after the Russian Revolution in 1917, and are part of the School’s pre-Soviet collection, the largest in the United States. Soon researchers will have access to an English language inventory of the supplements translated this summer by Irina Tarsis, for the library’s Special Collections Department. According to David Ferris, HLS curator of rare books and manuscripts, “An integral part of the laws that they illustrate, this collection is a superb example of 19th- and 20th-century Russian graphic art.”

Depicting everything from military uniforms and parade music to medals and maps, illustrations issued as supplements to Polnoe sobranie zakonov also include: proper parade uniform and stance for members of the Infantry; dress uniforms for officials of the Telegraph Department, 2d and 3d class; sword and lance positioning; and specifications for a cavalry ax.


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