Ann Birkin, chevener to Queen Victoria

The woman in this carte-de-visite portrait isn't identified anywhere on the photo.  When I bought it last year, I never expected to learn her identity.  Three weeks ago, while browsing the website of Britain's Royal Collection Trust, I noticed a woman who looked very familiar.  The first thing that drew my attention was her shawl,... Continue Reading →

Learning to build a nation: students in the new Latvia

On November 18, 1918, Latvia declared independence from the new Soviet government in Russia.  In November of this year, Latvians celebrated the centennial of that event.  Neighboring Lithuania and Estonia will be celebrating the centennial of their own independence in February 2019.  Finland's centennial celebration took place on December 6, 2017. The photo above was... Continue Reading →

Juhan Kukk, State Elder of Estonia, with Finnish Envoy Rudolf Holsti (1923)

This formal portrait has a handwritten inscription on the back: "Rudolf Holsti, Tallinna, 1923, helmikussa."  Tallinn is the capital of Estonia, and helmikussa means February in Finnish. Rudolf Holsti (1881-1945) became one of the founding fathers of the Republic of Finland after that country declared its independence from Soviet Russia in December 1917.  He served... Continue Reading →

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