July 15, 2011

Grand Duchy of Finland

This early-19th century playing card is from a set of 60 such cards, each devoted to a different province or territory of the Russian Empire, which at the time included the Grand Duchy of Finland, Congress Poland, and Russian America. One side of each card shows the local costume and the provincial coat of arms; the other side contains a map. This card depicts the Grand Duchy of Finland, located in part of present-day Finland. The Grand Duchy of Finland bordered on the Kingdom of Sweden and the Gulf of Bothnia to the north, the Gulf of Finland to the west, and Lake Ladoga to the south. In the aftermath of the Finnish War (1808-09) between Russia and Sweden, Finland became a grand duchy of the Russian Empire. Abo (present-day Turku) was the capital of the duchy. The card indicates that the distance from Abo to St. Petersburg was 630½ versts, and from Abo to Moscow, 1,350½ versts. A verst is a Russian measurement of distance, no longer used, equal to 1.0668 kilometers.

Chernigov Province

This early-19th century playing card is from a set of 60 such cards, each devoted to a different province or territory of the Russian Empire, which at the time included the Grand Duchy of Finland, Congress Poland, and Russian America. One side of each card shows the local costume and the provincial coat of arms; the other side contains a map. This card depicts Chernigov Province, part of present-day Ukraine. The western border of the province is marked by the Dnieper River. Chernigov, the administrative center of the province, is situated on the Desna River, a tributary of the Dnieper, and was one of the chief cities of Kievan Rus'. The card indicates that the distance from Chernigov to St. Petersburg was 1,102¼ versts, and from Chernigov to Moscow, 789 versts. A verst is a Russian measurement of distance, no longer used, equal to 1.0668 kilometers.

Orenburg Province

This early-19th century playing card is from a set of 60 such cards, each devoted to a different province or territory of the Russian Empire, which at the time included the Grand Duchy of Finland, Congress Poland, and Russian America. One side of each card shows the local costume and the provincial coat of arms; the other side contains a map. This card depicts Orenburg Province, located in the southwestern part of the empire. The province borders the “steppe of the nomad Kirgiz,” part of present-day Kazakhstan. Ufa, the administrative center of the province, is situated at the confluence of the Belaia and Ufa rivers. The card indicates that the distance from Ufa to St. Petersburg was 2,064¾ versts, and from Ufa to Moscow, 1,345 versts. A verst is a Russian measurement of distance, no longer used, equal to 1.0668 kilometers.

The Town of Cherkassk (Land of the Don Cossacks)

This early-19th century playing card is from a set of 60 such cards, each devoted to a different province or territory of the Russian Empire, which at the time included the Grand Duchy of Finland, Congress Poland, and Russian America. One side of each card shows the local costume and the provincial coat of arms; the other side contains a map. This card depicts the town of Cherkassk in the Land of the Don Cossacks, located in the western part of the empire. The land is divided into its western and eastern parts by the Don River, which flows into the Sea of Azov in the southwest. In 1805, the Cossacks moved their capital from Cherkassk to Novocherkassk, which is marked on the map as the administrative center. The card indicates that the distance from Novocherkassk to Moscow was 1,289 versts. A verst is a Russian measurement of distance, no longer used, equal to 1.0668 kilometers.

Astrakhan Province

This early-19th century playing card is from a set of 60 such cards, each devoted to a different province or territory of the Russian Empire, which at the time included the Grand Duchy of Finland, Congress Poland, and Russian America. One side of each card shows the local costume and the provincial coat of arms; the other side contains a map. This card depicts Astrakhan Province, located in the southwestern part of the empire. The province is divided into two parts by the Volga River, which flows into the Caspian Sea in the south of the province. Astrakhan', the administrative center of the province, was conquered by Russia from the Astrakhan Khanate in 1556. It later served as a Russia's gateway to the east. The card indicates that the distance from Astrakhan' to St. Petersburg was 2,138½ versts, and from Astrakhan' to Moscow, 1,418¾ versts. A verst is a Russian measurement of distance, no longer used, equal to 1.0668 kilometers.

The Land of Chukotka

This early-19th century playing card is from a set of 60 such cards, each devoted to a different province or territory of the Russian Empire, which at the time included the Grand Duchy of Finland, Congress Poland, and Russian America. One side of each card shows the local costume and the provincial coat of arms; the other side contains a map. This card depicts the Land of Chukotka, located in the extreme northeastern part of the empire. The Land of Chukotka is bordered by the Sea of Kamchatka (present-day Sea of Okhotsk), and the Bobrovoe Sea (present-day Bering Sea), and separated from the Great Ocean (Pacific Ocean) by the Aleutian Islands in the south. To the east, across a strait later named the Bering Strait, lies “Russian Land,” which was transferred to the United States in the Alaska Purchase of 1867. The map depicted on the card was based on the North Pacific voyages of Russian and other travelers in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.