For name change enthusiasts, Russia is a very nice collecting area. Nizhny Novgorod, a city in central Russia, 400 km east of Moscow, has also changed its name twice.
An overview of name changes around the world can be found in the book 'Place-name changes 1900-1991' by Adrian Room:
Place-name changes 1900-1991 / compiled by Adrian Room. - Metuchen : N.J. ; London : The Scarecrow Pr., 1993. - 296 p.
This part of the site is based on an article in Dutch:
Groeten uit Nizjni Novgorod, Gorki en opnieuw Nizjni Novgorod / Jan Kaptein. - In: OEF 2021 (jrg. 39) ; nr. 1. - p. 20-32
About: Nizhny Novgorod, in Imperial Russia, Sovjet Union (name change: Gorky) and Russian Federation (again Nizhny Novgorod)
Download the article as pdf


Nizhny Novgorod was founded in 1221 by Grand Prince Yuri II of Vladimir (1189-1238) to fortify the border against invaders. The Kremlin, the fortified city center, was conveniently located at the point where the Oka and Volga rivers meet, on the right bank of both rivers. On the map - from Baedeker 1914 - the Oka flows into the Volga, the Kremlin is located in the 'Upper Town', the Upper Town, on the right bank of the Oka, near the Volga. The 'Yarmarka' is indicated on the left bank of the Oka, connected to the Lower Town by a bridge. The 'Yamarka' is the area of the famous Annual Fair.

Detail of a map of Nizhny Novgorod, from the Baedeker 1914. The wooden Plashkoutni Bridge or Fair Bridge over the Oka, shown here on the map, was put in place every year in early June and opened at the first frost removed again.

The card was sent from Nizhny Novgorod to 'Grevenbroich bei Cln', 20 VIII 1903.
The postmark: inscribed with НИЖНIЙ НОВГОРОДЪ [NIZHNII NOVGOROD]. It is the cross-shaped stamp.
This picture and all pictures below on this page, if not mentioned otherwise: scanned about 300 dpi. Then set right and cut out, resized 25 % of this image and saved as jpg.

The image side of the card: caption ЯРМАРКА Fair / market. The word ЯРМАРКА [YARMARKA] is derived from the German 'Jahresmarkt'.
From the 16th century, this market was located on the left bank of the Volga near the Makaryev Monastery and therefore had the name Makaryev Market. The market was held every summer and was the most important market in Eastern Europe. In 1816, most of the market's buildings were destroyed by fire and the following year the market moved to Nizhny Novgorod. There was an appearance of deliberate intent to the fire. The old location suffered from annual flooding and people were already considering a solution new location. N.P. Rumyantsev, Minister of Commerce in 1802 - 1811, proposed moving it to Nizhny Novgorod. Apparently, not without the knowledge of N.P. Rumyantsev in 1816, "created" a fire that completely destroyed all buildings, with the exception of one stone building. In the same year, N.P. Rumyantsev the main initiator of the fair in Nizhny Novgorod.

Millions of visitors came every year and Nizhny Novgorod became the trading capital of Russia. A large part of the goods produced in Russia were sold on this market in July. Around 1905 the market consisted of 60 buildings, 2500 bazaars and 8000 exhibitions. Half of Russia's exports were sold through this market. The market was closed in 1929. The main building still stands and has been a center for exhibitions since 1991. The annual fair is also described in detail in the Baedeker of 1914: the annual fair officially started on July 15 and lasted until September 10 (Julian Calendar).
Afterwards the offices and stalls had to be closed. In the spring the area was usually flooded. There was also a temporary post office during the market, located in the main building, according to Baedeker. The card to Vinnitsa was sent from this temporary post office.

The postmark, resized 50 %.

Card with the postmark of the temporary post office of the annual fair, July 20, 1909. The card was sent to Vinnitsa, Podolia governorate. The written message: Warm regards from the steamship (illegible name) plus names only. On the image side a painting by 'В. Бугро', the French painter William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905): Amor and Psyche.

After the introduction of the first stamps, a number postmark was used to devalue the stamps (1857). Nizhny Novgorod was the capital of a governorate and therefore received a postmark of dots in 3 concentric circles with a number inside: Nizhny Novgorod was number 27. The cover was given a date stamp to indicate the date. Soon, single-ring postmarks with the date in three lines will be introduced for obliteration. Then after 1890 a new type came into use: the cross-shaped stamps with the month in Roman numerals. on the first card, from Nizhny Novgorod to 'Grevenbroich bei Cln', 20 VIII 1903, the postmark is not completely clear: at the top center is the day, below it the month in Roman numerals, to the left of the whole should have been the century (19) and to the right of the whole the year (03). The posmark indicates August 20, the sender indicates September 19/1, 1903: August 19 (Julian calendar) and September 1 (Gregorian, Western calendar). After February 28, 1900, 13 days must be added to get our Gregorian date.
After the cross-shaped stamps, the double-ring stamps came into use from 1903 onwards. The postmark of the Annual Fair is this type, double-ring, and we clearly see the indication ЯРМАРКА [YARMARKA] .

This card is sent June 18, 1914 from НИЖНIЙ НОВГОРОДЪ [NIZHNII NOVGOROD] to Germany.
According to the 1903 instructions, city and auxiliary post offices are indicated with an Arabic numeral. On this map the double-ring postmark at the bottom has a 2. Probably the indication for an auxiliary post office in Nizhny Novgorod.

The image side with the caption Н. НОВГОРОДЪ [N. NOVGOROD] Oбщій видъ съ Волги, General view from the Volga.

Nizhny Novgorod was already an important city during the Tsar's time and soon received a railway connection. Construction of the main line between Moscow and Nizhny Novgorod via Vladimir began in May 1858 and was completed within four years. The main station in Nizhny Novgorod opened on August 2, 1862. In 1960 the station was completely rebuilt.

This card has a postmark with the vague indication ВОКЗАЛЪ (VOKZAL) = station: a station post office. At the top is the indication Н. НОВГОРОДЪ KA..[N. NOVGOROD-KA..]. So this must be: Н. НОВГОРОДЪ v KAНАВИНО [ N. NOVGOROD-KANAVINO]. This postmark was in use in the period 27.7.13 17.9.24 (see literature). This will be the postmark of the office in the main station. According to Baedeker, the main station was in the suburb of Kunavino, on the side of the Annual Market.

The card was sent to Petrograd, 24-8-1915 (?). Sender sends greetings to the nice ladies at the pharmacy of the Aleksander Hospital on Fontanka in Petrograd. The image on this card shows the station square with the Theodore Monastery, one of the oldest monasteries in Russia, founded in 1154.

The station post offices generally did not fall under the normal government post, but under a separate organization: the railway post. The railway post also included the mobile post offices, including the railway post line 11, Moscow-Nizhny Novgorod. This line was opened August 1869. (line 12 is the return direction). 17 different stamps were in use on this line 11-12. So there is still a lot to collect.