This picture was found in the possessions of a great-aunt who immigrated from Volhynia, Russia to Canada around 1908. My family is ethnically German, and many of the Volhynian Germans originally came from East Prussia. My vague guesses are that this is German/Prussian/Russian and is from approximately 1850-1908. I don't know who the man is. I can speculate that this is a military uniform.

Can anyone accurately identify his uniform (country, division, rank) or provide any other clues?


It is a Russian uniform.

The cap itself and the oval cap badge give it away:

enter image description here src

A Prussian hat would have two round cockades.

His shoulder decoration further implies that he was a musician:

enter image description here src: Staff Trumpeter of a Russian Line-Infantry Unit, 1900's.

Unfortunately, the peaked cap was in service in that basic style for quite a long time, and certainly as early as the Crimean War:

Alexander II in cap (unknown artist, c. 1865)

Russia is the first country to adopt the peaked cap.

But the fine facial hair style might indicate (to my personal opinion at least) a much later date. My guess would be 1900–1910, 1880 the earliest. Minimally supported by comparing the colour plates in — Boris Mollo & John Mollo: "Uniforms of the Imperial Russian Army", Blandford Colour Series, Blandford Press: Poole, 1979.

  • Thank you for the quick response. This is wonderful. Any idea the range of years this type of uniform was in service?
    – mpatzer
    Mar 17 '21 at 19:09
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    @mpatzer Details visible make rank ID hard & uniform itself is also lacking in sharp lines. The cap is certainly like M1907, but I have to look that up properly (might be earlier, but 1850 seems way too early)? Mar 17 '21 at 19:12
  • That sounds very plausible. There is speculation from my distant cousin who sourced this picture that the man might be our shared ancestor born 1885 or his father born 1863. Both left Volhynian Russia in 1912/1913. I don't believe there is any evidence to indicate it is either of them, other than gut feeling. That would place them at age 27 and age 50 at the time they left Russia. Both within military age around 1907.
    – mpatzer
    Mar 17 '21 at 20:04

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