"In Memory of Native Land: Ukraine In Old Cards"
A Book Review Entitled
"A JOURNEY INTO UKRAINE'S PAST"
by Ingert Kuzych
Ukraine in Old Postcards, An
Album-Catalog by Mykhailo Zabochen, Oleksander Polishchuk,
and Volodymyr Yatsiuk. Krynytsia, Kyiv 2000, 508 pp. $125 postpaid.
[In Ukrainian with some Russian, English, and German text.]
This beautiful compendium of classic Ukrainian postcards can best be described in one word -
staggering. I use this term for several reasons.
First, it is the combined effort of three men who have spent thousands of hours over four years
completing the monumental task of locating these postcards, organizing and cataloging them,
and writing the accompanying text and descriptions.
Next, this volume is the most complete listing of postcards for any country ever published.
Some 7,500 pictures depicting all aspects of Ukrainian history and culture are included.
To get an idea of what a quantum leap this album is over anything else attempted
for Ukrainian postcards, consider that a previously published fine collection
of Ukrainian postcards released in 1981 presented only some 575 items!
Finally, the sheer size of this volume is massive. Over 500 pages and over five pounds!
The high quality paper used adds to the weight, but allows for crisp, clear reproduction
of the thousands of images.
The core of this catalog is the huge collection of Mykhailo Zabochen, the world's largest.
Hundreds of additional rare cards from some 20 other postcard-collecting specialists help
round out the presentation. The majority of the postcards were printed prior to 1918.
The introductory part of the book (about 100 pages) consists of six Ukrainian essays:
The Centenary of the Ukrainian Card; The Searcher's Happy Fortune; Ukraine and Ukrainians;
Ukraine in the Struggle for Independence; Taras Shevchenko: Poet, Artist, Symbol of Ukraine;
and Ukrainian Culture. These texts are illustrated with some 160 rare cards, most in color,
and all in original size. The card descriptions are in four languages: Ukrainian, Russian,
English, and German.
The remaining 400 pages of the volume present 7,345 postcards in reduced size and in black
and white. (Reproducing the entire album catalog in color would have made this mammoth
publication far too costly. Besides, a substantial percentage of the original postcards were
black and white anyway.) These postcards are divided into four sections corresponding
to the last four essays of the introductory section.
The first part, with over 1,800 postcards, focuses on Ukraine and Ukrainians. It is subdivided
into sections showing views of the different regions of Ukraine as they appeared prior
to World War I. Next come various card series that show Ukrainians or landscapes from different
parts of the country. The portraits of the natives (often described on the cards
as Little Russians) are an ethnographer's delight, while many of the bucolic scenes are so inviting,
one wishes to step right into them.
The second part, Ukraine in the Struggle for Independence, consists of almost 800 postcards
that follow Ukrainian history from ancient times to the recent past. Many of Ukraine's most famous
monarchs and Cossack leaders are shown, but the bulk of this section consists of cards honoring those
men and women who participated in the formation of the Ukrainian nation during its first period
of independence (1917-20). Battle scenes, military detachments, and the Sichovi Striltsi are
The next major division of this catalog revolves around Taras Shevchenko; it was chiefly compiled
using the collection of Volodymyr Yatsiuk, who specializes in items pertaining to Ukraine's famous bard.
Over 1,100 postcards are reproduced. They are not limited simply to portraits of the man,
but also include cards reproducing his paintings or drawings, those illustrating his poems,
statues of Shevchenko, locales named after him, views of his grave, and music, theater,
or films based on his works.
The final and largest section of the book (over 3,600 postcards) deals with Ukrainian Culture.
The overview (of several hundred cards) begins with literary greats and scenes from some
of their works; it continues through a number of art forms touching on icons, sculpture,
engraving, and ceramics. Next, almost 3,000 works are presented by artists listed in alphabetical
order. The section closes out with postcards of Ukrainian theater (mostly actors), music
(famous composers and performers), and folk art (chiefly embroidery, but also examples of pysanky).
The four sections reproducing postcards are followed by a useful "Portrait Gallery of Ukrainian
Artists," profiling 63 of Ukraine's greatest artists (responsible for a huge percentage
of the artwork that appears on Ukrainian postcards). A bibliography of postcard collecting
(65 entries dating back to 1901), a listing of abbreviations that appear on the backs
of postcards (identifying the various printers), and an index of names found on postcards
(cross referenced to the pages where they appear) round out this most comprehensive postcard
Although the price may seem steep, it really is not when one considers the fantastic number
of illustrations that make up this volume and that had to be scanned in one at a time.
The subtitle of this album-catalog "In Memory of One's Native Land" is entirely accurate because
in viewing these postcards one has the opportunity to travel back in time to Old Ukraine.
When you consider that this book is functioning as a time machine, $100 is really amazingly
inexpensive. I would most strongly recommend this fabulous volume to anyone interested
in Ukrainian history or culture.
Book Review prepared by Ingert Kuzych for publication in the
Ukrainian Philatelist, Fall, 2000. Mr. Kuzych is the President of The
Ukrainian Philatelic and Numismatic Society.
The book, "In Memory of Native Land: Ukraine in Old Cards" can be
purchased through ArtUkraine. Please contact us at ArtUkraine@starpower.net