Further to the previous post – the writing on the postcards

Having charitably taken our retired head of department for a walk yesterday, I was rather taken aback when he showed his gratitude by saying that the saddest part of his 2020 Christmas had been the brevity of my blog post about the Russian Christmas cards. He then suggested that I hadn’t transcribed the writing not because I lacked the time but because I couldn’t read it.  Well, hats off to him for pressing the right buttons.

Postcard 3 verso

Postcard 3 is written to an “Oli︠a︡” (the diminutive form of Olʹga) and reads, in slightly liberty-taking translation, “I wish you a happy Christmas and wish you all the best” and is signed by what looks like A. Nazarovskai︠a︡ but would make more sense to be Nazarevskaia.  The right-hand side shows the address (including the sender’s address: “Here”!), which is flat 21, building 9, Vladimiro-Dolgorukovskai︠a︡ Street.  This Moscow street was renamed after Austrian revolutionary Friedrich Adler in 1918, then after Soviet revolutionary Leonid Krasin in 1931.  It remains Krasin Street (ulit︠s︡a Krasina) to this day.

As is standard in Russian address-writing, the recipients are in the dative form.  It is addressed to M.I. Li︠e︡sin (Lesin in post-reform orthography), with Olʹga mentioned at the end, with Li︠e︡sin referred to as the “upravli︠a︡i︠u︡shchiĭ”.  This term normally denotes something like manager or director or – in old-fashioned use – husband.  Finally, the 3-kopeck stamp is one that was issued in the late 1900s and in use until the Soviets took power.  The ink stamp’s central bar which would have given the date of dispatch is sadly not legible (or even present).

Postcard 4 verso

Postcard 4 is written not in Russian at all but in Polish.  “Najserdeczniejsze życzenia od N.R. [or N.B.]” – Very best wishes from N.R.  The first word has as its root the word “serce” (heart).  “Serce” makes “serdecznie” (heartfelt), and the form here with the prefix “naj” and suffix “jsze” is the superlative, so a more literal if less familiar translation would be “Most heartfelt wishes”.

Remember that Poland was, from the late 18th century until the Second Polish Republic (from 1918), partitioned by Russia, Austria, and Prussia.  It seems reasonable to think that this card was written by a Pole from the Russian-controlled parts of Poland, who might have had easy access either locally or through a visit to Russia itself to Russian goods.  It is a shame, though, not to have the fuller information that the card would have had had it been sent on its own through the post.

Phew!  Job done.  Happy holidays, everyone.

Mel Bach

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