18 September 2020

This is a word in dialect from the region of Twente. It is the name given to craftsmen, mainly from the village of Vriezenveen, who tried their luck in the newly built city of Saint Petersburg (1703) and travelled to there between 1720-1730 to built up a business to earn money for the family at home. Vriezenveen was very poor and there were not enough possibilities to earn enough money.

They were very successful in Saint Petersburg and bit by bit the wives also moved to Russia. Business was growing and growing and they became very well known for being such good merchants. Many of them stayed there forever and got children who also stayed there. Over time a very strong and important Dutch society was established in Saint Petersburg and the Dutch also had their own church on the Nevskiy Prospekt, the main street in Saint Petersburg. The Dutch church is still there, but there are no services any more. To this day there are still many Dutch family names in Saint Petersburg.

The cover (1903) shows very clearly the Dutch name Harmsen. Their business was in Gostini Dvor, one of the first department stores in the world on the Nevskiy Prospekt. Backstamped in Vriezenveen.

Postcard from Leiden to the pastor of the Dutch church in Saint Petersburg. Back stamped in violet with Zegel der Holl: gereformeerde kerk/Te St. Petersburg.

René Hillesum

René Hillesum

Collector of postal history of Finland and postmarks of Imperial Saint Petersburg.

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