A shipwright and carpenter, Ivan Koriukin makes only a brief appearance in the history of Russian America. Hired along with Ivan Popov to aid shipbuilding in Russia’s new North-American colonies, he arrived in Petropavlovsk on the ship Neva in 1804. A year later he left Kamchatka for Sitka together with Rezanov and Langsdorf. Immediately upon arrival at Sitka, Rezanov instructed Koriukin to build two ships for the retaliation campaign in Japan, a brig and a tender. The plans changed when Rezanov acquired the American brig Juno. The tender, christened Avos’ was finished in June of 1806 and became the first boat launched in Novo-Arkhangelsk. The same month the Juno and the Avos’ departed Sitka for a punitive expedition on Japan. Koriukin sailed with them. Rezanov wrote about both shipwrights in his report to shareholders in 1805:
Mr. Koriukin and Mr. Popov, ship apprentices, appear skillful in their profession. If kept in hand they are very useful men. The first is a very good draftsman and makes good sketches, surveys and maps and is so exact in his work that he pleases everybody. The second, besides being skillful in his trade, is a good sailmaker and likes mechanics. Because of that he is useful in construction of works of various kinds. When sober they are very easy to get along with, but when drunk they are worse than useless and anything can be expected from their wildness. They have not acquired this ruinous habit, but being young they will do so by indulging too often (Tikhmenev 1979:192).
This turned out to be a prophetic statement: by 1807 both were fired on grounds of their heavy drinking (Pierce 1990:130). Koriukin’s drawings of vernacular watercraft of Alaska were published in Langsdorff’s Voyages and Travels. The originals are in the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley.
Sources and literature:
Divin V. A., editor. Issledovaniya Russkikh na Tikhom Okeane v XVIII- Pervoi Polovine XIX v., tom 3: Rossiisko-Amerikanskaya Kompaniya I Izuchenie Tihookeanskogo Severa, 1799-1815. [Russian Exploration of the Pacific Ocean in the XVIII- First Half of XIX Century, volume 3: Russian-American Company and the Exploration of the Pacific North, 1799-1815], Moscow: Nauka, 1994.
Langsdorff, G. H. von. Voyages and Travels in Various Parts of the World, during the Years 1803, 1804, 1805, 1806, and 1807. Illustrated by Engravings from Original Drawings. London: John Cumming, 1813.
Tikhmenev, Piotr. A History of the Russian-American Company, Volume 2. Translated by Richard Pierce and Alton Donnelly. The Limestone Press, Kingston, Ontario, 1979.