Postcards Documenting Kaiser Wilhelm II's Visit to the Holy Land – A Collection Rare in its Proportions – Some 290 Postcards Circulated the Year of the Visit, 1898

Opening: $10,000
Estimate: $15,000 - $25,000
Sold for: $12,500
Including buyer's premium

Some 290 postcards printed on the occasion of the official visit of the German Emperor, Kaiser Wilhelm II, to the Holy Land. Most printed in Germany, 1898 (many postcards with postmarks and stamps dating to the day of the arrival of the Kaiser in various stations in the course of his journey, including Jerusalem, Jaffa, Beirut, Constantinople, and other locations).
The present collection represents one of the finest and most comprehensive assortments of postcards ever assembled on the theme of the visit of Kaiser Wilhelm II to the Holy Land, comprising approximately 290 postcards circulated in 1898 – some shortly before the Kaiser embarked on his journey, and some shortly after his return to his homeland – all in some way commemorating the visit, incorporating a host of illustrations and pictures.
Germany was, at the time, the world's biggest producer of postcards, and most of the postcards in the collection were in fact printed there, by dozens of different publishers; some of them were responsible for a large number of the items, while others produced only one or two. In honor of the visit, some of the publishers made a special offer to purchasers: individual postcards would be sent to one of the Kaiser's destinations in the Middle East, would await the Kaiser's arrival at that destination, and would then be postmarked on the day of his arrival and be subsequently mailed to the purchaser. The present collection includes postcards mailed from Jaffa, Jerusalem, Beirut, Constantinople, Cairo, and additional places.
Among the rarest and most important postcards in the collection are the following:
• 16 large-size (15X22 cm) photographic postcards published by Knackstedt & Näther (Hamburg), documenting the course of the visit (the Kaiser going up to the Temple Mount, the Kaiser crossing Jaffa mounted on a horse, and more); and 13 postcards from a different version of the same series, in standard size.
• 7 postcards published by H. A. I. Schulz (Hamburg), with color lithographic illustrations of stations along the Kaiser's journey and four postcards bearing illustrations from the same series published by Max Mandus (Hamburg).
• Four postcards with Hebrew captions published by Lith. A.L. Monsohn (Jerusalem). Each of them shows the Kaiser entering through a ceremonial gate, encircled by illustrations of sites of the Holy Land. The sites change from one postcard to the next: Hebron, the Jordan River, the Temple Mount, the Misgav LaDach Hospital, Rachel's Tomb, and the Western Wall. One postcard bears a Hebrew New Year greeting from the Misgav LaDach Hospital.
• 17 photographic postcards published by Carl Otto Hayd (Munich), showing: Jerusalem adorned with flags of the German Empire; Turkish sentries standing guard over the Kaiser's tent camp; the Kaiser and his entourage passing through ceremonial gates; and more.
• Five postcards published by Knackstedt & Näther, with pictures of worshippers at the Western Wall, and with a medallion bearing a portrait of the Kaiser in the bottom corner (in different colors: green, red, and blue; on three of the postcards, a commemorative inscription in honor of the Kaiser's visit has been superimposed over the Western Wall). In addition, 27 other postcards belonging to the same series, but with pictures of other sites and a portrait of the Kaiser.
• Also included: Postcards published by Vogel (Leipzig), Kutzner & Berger (Berlin), Maether & Co. (Berlin), Nister (Nuremberg), Ebuzzia (Constantinople), one photographic postcard with pictures of the Kaiser and Constantinople (printer not indicated; mailed in 1898), a lithographic postcard showing the Kaiser and Empress, with Beirut in the background (printer not indicated), and more.


Some 290 postcards. Size and condition vary. Postcards arranged in album according to printers (in alphabetical order), along with handwritten notes, in a fashion that exposes the backs of postcards sent by mail.


Also enclosed: Some 20 cards of different types (not postcards) bearing photos and illustrations of the Kaiser's visit. These include twelve collector's cards produced by the Stollwerck chocolate company, showing various stations along the Kaiser's journey, such as Venice, Constantinople, Haifa, and Jerusalem. Stollwerck was the first company in Germany to produce collectable cards; the present series was specifically issued on the occasion of the Kaiser's visit.
For further information, see:
• Ralph Perry and David Pearlman, Postcards commemorating the 1898 Journey of the German Imperial couple to the Orient (English, Hebrew and German), Stuttgart: Verein für Württembergischen Kirchengeschichte, 2019.
• Ralph Perry, Postal History of the Kaiser's Visit to the Holy Land, in: Holy Land Postal History Bulletin, issue no. 91-92, pp. 400-36.
• Ralph Perry, The Visit of the Kaiser Wilhelm to the Orient Oct. – Nov. 1898, in: Holy Land Postal History Bulletin, issue nos. 119-20, pp. 656-79.
Provenance: The Ralph Perry Collection.


Kaiser Wilhelm II's Journey to the Orient
Through the months of October-November 1898, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, and his wife, the Empress Augusta Victoria, toured some of the major cities of the Ottoman Empire, with Jerusalem being the most important of the destinations. The journey took place at a time when the impending and anticipated disintegration of the Ottoman Empire was hovering in the background, and a struggle between the European powers over the "spoils" – the assets of the so-called "Sick Man of Europe" – appeared likely to ensue in the near future. The journey went on for more than a month. Chief among its goals were the strengthening of ties between the German and Ottoman empires and the encouragement of Christian settlement in the Holy Land. Among the places visited by the Kaiser and his entourage were, in addition to Jerusalem, Athens, Constantinople, Haifa, Jaffa, Ramle, and Cairo.
Preparations for the Kaiser's visit to Jerusalem had already begun in the summer of 1898. These included a massive municipal clean-up, the improvement and overhaul of infrastructure, the laying of a telegraph line, and other operations. In time for the Kaiser's arrival in Jerusalem, a number of municipal roads were widened. The authorities went as far as breaching a gap in Jerusalem's Old City Wall, adjacent to Jaffa Gate, to enable the smooth passage of the Kaiser's opulent carriage. In addition, the city streets – most notably HaNevi'im Street, where a special tent camp for the Kaiser and his entourage, the "Camp Imperial, " was to be temporarily constructed – were adorned with the flags of Germany and the Ottoman Empire, and with makeshift, portable ceremonial gates.
One of the main highlights of the Kaiser's visit to Jerusalem was the inaugural ceremony of the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, in the Christian Quarter of the Old City. The Kaiser also visited the German Colony, the Mt. of Olives, City Hall, and other sites. From a Jewish standpoint, undoubtedly the most historically important event on the Kaiser's itinerary was his hastily arranged meeting with Theodor Herzl.
Throughout their visit, Wilhelm and the Empress were accompanied by a small entourage. The Kaiser rode either on horseback or in the imperial carriage. Following in the footsteps of his immediate entourage in Jerusalem was a parade of lesser-ranked officials, accompanied by cavalry regiments and "kawas" officials – ceremonial Ottoman-Empire bodyguards.
The Kaiser's mission was documented in its time in hundreds of books and articles, and commemorated on playing cards, board games, and souvenir cards – collector's items – featuring Holy Land landscapes. But beyond a doubt, the quintessential commemorative souvenirs of the visit were the numerous different postcards, many of excellent quality, printed specially for the occasion; an astounding number of publishers – some 350 of them, from Germany and other countries – began publishing postcards commemorating the journey on a historically unprecedented scale. Major publishers such as Vogel, Silbermann, and Knackstedt-Näther went as far as presenting stamp and postcard collectors with a special offer; in exchange for a fixed fee, subscribers would be rewarded with postcards from all the various cities the Kaiser visited, postmarked and mailed on the very day he actually made his presence in the city in question.

Category
Zionism, Eretz Israel, Autograph Letters from Notable Personalities