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Messages - Mike

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The photo shows a one-year volunteer [вольноопределяющийся] of one of the cavalry Life Guard regiments stationed in St.-Petersburg, most probably the Horse Guards [Лейб-Гвардии Конный полк]. This means that the soldier was exempted from a regular conscription due to his secondary or higher education, and that his family was well-off enough to pay for his expensive upkeep in this aristocratic regiment.

Their World and Culture / Re: Interesting Women of the Nobility
« on: May 02, 2016, 12:02:08 AM »
Eugenie Kapnist is virtually unknown in Russia, and no biographical source on her is available in Russian. However, a lot of information can be found on other counts Kapnist, some of whom have contributed notably to Russian history, politics and culture. The first Russian Kapnist, Peter, moved from Venice to Russia as early as 1711, and already by the end of 18 c. the family's Greek roots were almost never mentioned, and the Kapnists were rather considered to be of a Ukrainian Cossack origin.

Captain Ivan Borodin was an officer of the Ust'-Dvinsk Fortress Mining Company, stationed at the Ust'-Dvinsk (Dünamünde) fortress, very close to Riga. The garrison of every Russian active military fortress in the early 20th c. included such a unit tasked with the fortress mine and counter-mine warfare defense. Later Borodin was transferred to the Vyborg Fortress Mining Company and promoted to lieutenant-colonel. He was murdered in 1917 by revolting soldiers.

Servants, Friends and Retainers / Re: De Lazari
« on: December 27, 2015, 02:16:40 PM »
Ivan de Lazari descended from a Greek noble family. He was an actor and director at the Alexandrinsky Imperial theater, famous for his virtuoso guitar and balalaika playing - for which he was awarded the title of "His Majesty's soloist". During the war he traveled with sanitary trains to entertain wounded soldiers at hospitals, including the Palace hospital at Tsarskoye Selo.  Died in Moscow in 1931. There's an article on him in the Russian Wiki.

Servants, Friends and Retainers / Re: Terentii Chemodurov and Alexei Trupp
« on: November 17, 2015, 03:36:22 PM »
Palace servants, especially those close to the imperial family, often received foreign awards when they accompanied their masters on visits abroad. Apparently Trupp was part of the imperial retinue on state and family visits to France, Denmark and Germany (Grand Duchy of Hesse-Darmstadt) - each of which was visited several times, particularly the last two because of the family relations.

Servants, Friends and Retainers / Re: Terentii Chemodurov and Alexei Trupp
« on: November 16, 2015, 07:58:03 AM »
Alexei Trupp was made an hereditary honorary citizen in April 1913 to commemorate his 30 years of palace service.
He was awarded the following Russian and foreign medals:

- Golden medal "For diligent service", for wearing on neck on the St. Stanislav ribbon;
- Silver medal "For diligent service", for wearing on breast on the St. Stanislav ribbon;
- Silver medal "In the memory of Alexander III";
- Silver medal "In the commemoration of Nicholas II's coronation";
- Bronze medal "In the commemoration of Alexander III's coronation";
- Bronze medal "In the commemoration of the Romanov dynasty's 300th anniversary";
- Two French medals (golden and silver);
- Danish silver medal;
- Hesse silver cross of the Philip the Magnanimous Order of Merit.

In 1890 - 1906, Nikolai Plautin served in Life Guard Hussar regiment, in which uniform he appears on the photo.
The Cossack trousers were dark blue, with wide red stripes for generals like Plautin - see e.g. this portrait of Grand Duke Sergei:

The white (actually silver lace) collar signified an NCO. In your case the collar should be all red or blue with silver piping.
The hat was made of Astrakhan (karakul) fur, black or dark grey.
Medals and orders could be worn as shown on the picture, or above the cartridge pouches ("gazyri").
The officer on the picture wears epaulettes. In your case it should rather be shoulder boards ("pogony"), like these, but with red or blue piping:

While commanding a Cossack brigade in 1914, Major-General Plautin should have worn a uniform of either Terek or Kuban host - see the picture. "Blue" is Terek, "red" is Kuban.

As to the awards, only his St. Vladimir 4th class with swords and sash was worn on this type of uniform:

Research Russian Roots / Re: Kolbus Family - Ukraine or Russia
« on: October 03, 2015, 02:05:18 AM »
Koz'ma Kolbas lived in the large (population over 3000) village of Ushcherpye [Ущерпье] in then Chernigov Governorate, currently Bryansk Region, Russia. It was apparently not him who was engaged in sausage making but somebody of his ancestors. His occupation is cited as "common laborer". By the way, my grandfather lived at that time just a few miles from Ushcherpye - in Novozybkov, where his family owned a large match-wood business and employed several dozens workers from the surrounding villages.
As to Domnikiya, her native place doesn't appear on her passport.

Research Russian Roots / Re: Kolbus Family - Ukraine or Russia
« on: October 02, 2015, 11:39:30 PM »
The passports were issued to Domnikiya Savelievna Mischenkova [Домникия Савелиевна Мищенкова] and to Koz'ma Petrovich Kolbas [Козьма Петрович Колбас]. The exact meaning of the surname Kolbas is "sausage".

This is indeed a wedding photo. The two guys in uniform are career NCOs. It might help if you post a back side of the photo if something is printed/written on it.

Please send to

I have the beautifully handwritten letter of employment from the Imperial Court
It would be interesting to see it. Can you post a copy here?

Seems to be an authentic St. Stanislaus 2nd class cross for non-Christians. The maker's name is Эдуардъ [Edward], a major St. Petersburg jeweler. It is not exceptionally rare, and I don't believe it would fetch over a few thousand dollars. But I'm not an expert in this field and you'd probably seek a more professional estimate.

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