Josip Mikulec, Croat Who Walked Across Globe Collecting VIP Autographs

Paul Bradbury

Photo Youtube/www.cuvalo.het

August 18, 2023 – The extraordinary story of Josip Mikulec, who left Croatia in 1906 with no money to walk across the world collecting famous autographs.

One of the things I have learned about my time in Croatia is that if you approach every new destination, no matter how unfashionable, with an open mind, there will always be a hidden gem to uncover.

And so it proved this week on my overnight visit to Oroslavje, a small town in Zagorje, just 30 minutes by car from Zagreb. And while the major surprise – the price – has been reported on by seemingly every portal in the Croatian media after I published Pizza, Beer, Ice Cream: Where is the Cheapest Town in Croatia?, the discovery of the day had nothing to do with price.

Meet Josip Mikulec, born in Krušljevo selo near Oroslavje, who decided in 1906 – for reasons best known to himself – to walk all the way across the globe, collecting signatures of famous people along the way. It is a quite incredible story, with the book capturing th signatures of American Presidents, T. Roosevelt, W. H. Taft, W. Wilson, W. G. Hardy, C. Coolidge, along with other notables such as Lloyd George, Lord Curzon, the Prince of Wales, the President of China, Admiral Togo, J. Pierpont Morgan, and various senators, governors, ambassadors, etc.

Josip Mikulec left with no money on his journey, selling picture postcards along the way. He got through 38 pairs of shoes on his 25,000 mile travels. There is a lot more than a could paraphrase from the only article in English I found on him, but this excellent 2009 account by Ante Cuvalo deserves its place in the limelight, so check it out here – amazing stuff.

What I can add to the story is the whereabouts of the book, which weighed about 25 kg (imagine carrying that around the world), which I understand to be in private collection in Zagreb – and for sale. What an excellent tourism promotion exhibition that could be. If anyone interested in pursuing funding for this unique piece of Croatian heritage is interested in getting in touch, I think it could make for a fascinating project, and do some justice to Josip Mikulec’s efforts collecting more than 30,000 autographs. Anyone interested in taking this further, contact me on [email protected] Subject Josip Mikulec.


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