С Новым годом! Happy New Year! : late delivery of the December 2017 Slavonic item of the month

The December 2017 item of the month was held up in the post, so with apologies here is a lovely festive card sent on 20 December 1967 to celebrate the incoming new year.

Postcard recto. From the Catherine Cooke postcard collection.

In the Soviet period, Christmas played a much-diminished role – new year celebrations took on much of Christmas’ character and iconography, and New Year’s Eve remains the main time for present-giving in much of the former Soviet bloc to this day.  In the card above, we have Ded Moroz (Grandfather Frost) being ferried by a troika of horses, with the Kremlin star shining in the background.

This lovely card was sent from Nizhnii Tagil, a town in the Sverdlovsk Region, to the small Norwegian town of Vikersund.  The fact that the Russian sender had a personalised stamp for his details (a sign that he was well established), bottom right, made me hope that he and the recipient might be traceable – and so it turned out to be the case.

Postcard verso.

Rudol’f Kopylov was an artist and Thor Skullerud was a pharmacist – what linked them appears to have been bookplates.  Kopylov specialised in the production of ex-libris and Skullerud was an avid commissioner of them.  For readers of Russian, here is more about Kopylov in connection with an exhibition of some of his works in 2014: http://www.shr-ekb.ru/exibitions.php?exid=144; for all, here is a link to some of the bookplates he produced which commemorate the poet Sergei Esenin: http://www.esenin.ru/esenin-v-izobrazitelnom-iskusstve/ekslibris/kopylov-r-v  Skullerud is harder to pin down in terms of biographical details, but here are some of the ex-libris he had made for him: http://art-exlibris.net/person/1922  It would seem that several of his bookplates are now in the Rijksmuseum, but copyright sensitivity prevents the museum from providing images: https://www.rijksmuseum.nl/en/search?q=skullerud

Somewhere, presumably, there is a bookplate designed by Kopylov for Skullerud to be found, but I have yet to track it down.  Ex-libris are the subject of many books in the UL.  A search for the subject bookplates will provide long lists.  Among the results will be a formidable Russian publication which lists all bookplates found in the holdings of the rare books department of the Gosudarstvennaia publichnaia istoricheskaia biblioteka (the State Public Historical Library).  Listed by name of owner, the set has covered only three letters of the alphabet and already stands at four volumes.  Once complete, it will be an extraordinary resource.  It can be consulted via the West Room and stands at  874.d.70-73.

Happy New Year to all our readers.

Mel Bach

Illustrations for Soviet children (and postcards for Christmas!) : the December 2016 Slavonic item of the month

‘Kniga dlia detei 1881-1939’ (Books for children, 1881-1939; S950.a.200.4173-4174) is a huge two-volume set which contains reproductions of excerpts from beautifully illustrated Russian children’s books.  It was produced in 2009 but is a only a recent arrival in the University Library.

The two volumes (right) and a winter scene (left).

The set is based on the collection of a New York Russian emigre.  Aleksandr Lur’e (or Sasha Lurye) has collected hundreds upon hundreds of late imperial and early Soviet children’s books, a great many of which researchers would struggle to track down in libraries today.  The two volumes follow a roughly chronological order in terms of the books their sections study. Continue reading

10 views for the price of 1 : the September 2016 Slavonic item of the month

201609_full-postcardThe current Library exhibition, ‘Lines of Thought’, closes on Saturday.  The next exhibition will be ‘Curious Objects’, and the September Slavonic item of the month is a Russian postcard that will be among a section of items in the exhibition from the Catherine Cooke collection.

This charming card shows a postman whose satchel is full of a cascade of tiny postcards showing the sights of St. Petersburg.  Above the postman are the words “Hello from”, the greeting completed by the name of the city stamped on the front of the satchel.  From top to bottom are: the People’s House, the Warsaw Station, the statue of Peter the Great, the Malyi Theatre, the arch of the General Staff Building, the Mariinskii Theatre, the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ, Bol’shaia Morskaia Street, the Winter Palace with the Alexander I column in front of it, and finally St Isaac’s Cathedral and Konnogvardeiskii Boulevard.

Such postcards were not uncommon in the Russian Empire.  A Google image search in Russian for the terms pre-revolutionary postcard postman greetings from supplies several variations on the theme.  The keen-eyed reader will spot that the last on the right is our own postman again, now moonlighting in Kislovodsk.


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Greetings from the past : the December 2013 Slavonic item of the month

Picture and message side of Views.PC.Cooke.1

Picture and message side of Views.PC.Cooke.1

The December Slavonic item of the month is a postcard – the first of hundreds of postcards from the late Catherine Cooke’s collection which will gradually be added individually to the library catalogue.  It shows three scenes from Kyiv (often called Kiev in the west), is written in Polish and French, and is addressed in Russian to a location in modern-day Latvia.  As with so many items in the Cooke collection, there are a great many interesting details waiting to be found.

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