Vilnius, the ancient capital of Lithuania, in the later centuries had become famous for its wide-ranging trade fair, traditionally known as “Kaziuko mugė”. Its name is associated with the traditional patron saint of Lithuania, Saint Casimir, whose remains, in 1636 were transferred to the Cathedral of Vilnius and so attracted increasingly large numbers of devotees. With time, as the devotees needed food and lodgings, the occasion attracted other commercial enterprises. By the 18th C., when the crowds moved to the more spacious Square of Lukiškės, a veritable fair came into existence attracting sellers and buyers both locals and from further afield.
The range of merchandise, mainly home-produced, increased as well, so that it came to offer not only local food but also utensils for farm and general use use. There also was no lack of artistic creativity. Outstanding were the verbos, that is, bouquets of dried flowers arranged with great ingenuity, known, of course, specifically as Vilniaus verbos.
With time, Kaziuko mugė came to be an important economic event as well, for it attracted people not only from the Vilnius district but also from the nearby Byelorussia and elsewhere. As late as 1940, Kaziuko mugė was visited by some 10,000 people from Kaunas.
In World War One, Vilnius was taken by the German Tenth Army on September 18, 1915 and soon became the temporary headquarters of that Army, led by Gen. (later Field Marshall) Herrmann von Eichhorn. Among other things, while reorganising the economic matters in the Eastern areas, the German administration took note of the economic -cum-social significance of the Vilnius Fair.
In 1916, the German Oberbuergermeister of Vilnius took up the suggestion to continue the long-standing tradition of the fair and gave it much attention to make it a success – with the difference that, due to war, the emphasis was not on selling and buying food products but rather on display of local creativity, as an exhibition. The event was given a German name as Ausstellung der Wilnaer Arbeitsstuben, followed by its translation in Lithuanian, Polish, Byelorussian and Hebrew languages. The exhibition was held in Grosse Strasse 43.
To mark the occasion, German administration arranged for the printing, in colour, of commemorative postcards. This was done by the leading poster printing company in Berlin Hollerbaum & Schmidt.
Below are shown front and back of the postcard printed to mark the event. Most of these “souvenir” cards were purchased by German troops and dispatched to their friends and relatives at home. Philatelically, now they are rare.