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Officers of the society
Life of the society
An aspect of Russian Postal Administration, 1917-1923 by J. Lee Shneidman, Ph. D
An early seal from the Russian cloister of St. Panteleimon at Mount Athos by Aimilios D. Xanthopoulos
The Russian postal agencies in the Dobrudja during 1877-1878 by D. N. Minchev
Tarasoviana by A. Cronin
Reviews by B. A. Evans
"WIPA" 1933 BRONZE MEDAL "UNIPEX" 1960 SILVER MEDAL
"PRAGA" 1935 BRONZE MEDAL "POLSKA" 1960 SILVER MEDAL
"DSTRAPA" 1935 SILVER MEDAL "PRAGA" 1962 SILVER MEDAL
"*ZEFIB" 1937 SILVER MEDAL "MELUSINA" 1963 SILVER MEDAL
"BEPHILA" 1957 SILVER MEDAL "PHILATEC" 1964 SILVER MEDAL
"EFICON" 1958 SILVER MEDAL "WIPA" 1965 SILVER MEDAL
"TEMEX" 1958 SILVER MEDAL "SIPEX" 1966 SILVER MEDAL
"INTERPOSTA"1959 SILVER MEDAL "PRAGA" 1968 SILVER MEDAL
""SICILIA" 1959 SILVER MEDAL "APS-68" 1968 SILVER MEDAL
"BARCELONA" 1960 SILVER MEDAL "EFIEpX" 1968 SILVER CERTIFICATE
"SOFIA-69" 1969 SILVER CERTIFICATE
No. 78 1970
EDITOR IN CHIEF
Box 806, Church Street Station
New York, N.Y. 10008
Martin L. Harow
K. Adler, Emile Marcovitch, C.P. Bulak,
J. Terlecky (Ukrainian Editor)
2 Officers of the Society
3 Special Notice
4 Life of the Society
7 An Aspect of Russian Postal Administration, 1917-1923 by J. Lee Shneidman, Ph. D.
48 An Early Seal From the Russian Cloister of St. Panteleimon at Mount Athos by Aimilios D.
49 The Russian Postal Agencies in The Dobrudja During 1877-1878 by D. N. Minchev
51 Tarasoviana by A. Cronin
55 Reviews by B.A. Evans
OFFICERS OF THE SOCIETY
PRESIDENT: Kurt Adler, c/o Metropolitan Opera Inc., Lincoln Centre Plaza, N.Y., 10023
VICE-PRESIDENT: Gordon H. Torrey Ph. D., 5118 Duval Dr., Washington, D.C. 20016
SECRETARY: Joseph F. Chudoba, 426 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, N.Y. 11225
TREASURER: Norman Epstein, 33 Crooke Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11226
CHAIRMAN OF AUDITING COMMITTEE: Andrew Cronin, Box 806, New York, N.Y. 10008
CHAIRMAN OF MEMBERSHIP COMMITTEE: Mr. Martin Harow, 17 Second St., Brentwood, L.I. 11717
LIBRARIAN: J. Lee Shneidman, Ph. D., 161 W. 86th St., Apt. 5-B, New York, N.Y. 10024
BOARD OF DIRECTORS: Emile Marcovitch, 65-61 Saunders St., Apt. 4-Q, Rego Park, N.Y. 11374
Boris Shishkin, 3523 Tunlaw Rd., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20007
Fred W. Speers, 118 N. Caroline Way, Escondido, Calif. 92025
REPRESENTATIVES OF THE SOCIETY
G.B. Salisbury Chapter: Joseph F. Chudoba, 426 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, N.Y. 11225
San Francisco: K. Jansson, 624-16 Ave., San Francisco, Calif. 94118
Washington, D.C.: Boris Shishkin, 3523 Tunlaw Rd., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20007
Western USA: Lester S. Glass, 1553 So. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles, Calif. 90035
The views expressed in this JOURNAL by the authors are their own and the Editors disclaim any responsibility.
At the present time the Membership Dues are $7.50, due January 1, for all members. Application forms, which
must be filled out, are available upon request. Membership lists, codes, bulletins and supplements to the member-
ship lists will be sent out annually. Kindly make all checks payable to:
ROSSICA Society of Russian Philately, c/o
Mr. Norman Epstein, 33 Crooke Ave.,
Brooklyn, N.Y. 11226
We have a very limited number of back issues of the Journal for sale, both in Russian and in English at $2.50 each:
Russian Editions No. 44 to 69; English Editions (10 various only). Others are sold out. Our double issue No.
77/78 is $4.00 and postage is extra for all numbers of the Journal.
SOME TRAVEL NOTES
In the course of his work as an electrical engineer, your editor found himself on assignment at the beginning of this
year in the "Super State," namely California.
It was a wonderful experience professionally, scenically and philatelically. Above all philatelically in San Francisco
and Los Angeles where, without really trying, he found some unpicked Russian and Soviet material at a couple of
the local dealers'. Like a Denikin cover at fifty cents.
That was probably just a fluke. Anyway, the thing is to know what to look for. That is what we in the Editorial
Board are trying to show our members when we keep exploring the fascinating and sometimes obscure byways in
our sphere of philately. It is an eternal job, but all one needs is an enquiring mind, a magnifying glass, a good
philatelic library and some general reference works, such as those covered in our "Book Reviews" section.
Learn to accumulate material, examine and compare it carefully, ask questions of your fellow enthusiasts. You'll
learn a lot about philately in general, not to mention history, geography and literature. In short, you'll have a
The Editorial Board is finally getting back to the two journals per year schedule and is investigating the financial
possibilities of more frequent issues. The appearance of the next journal, No. 79, should coincide with the ASDA
Show later this year.
The Rossica Journal has decided to set aside one or more pages, dependent upon the response for the personal ads
The ads are to be no longer than three lines in length, including name and address and totalling approximately 40
words. The cost per insertion will be $10.00 to non-members and $5.00 to members.
These insertions are not open to dealers but are restricted to personal notices only. All who wish to take advantage
of this page, please send copy and remittance to our Treasurer, Mr. Norman Epstein, 33 Crooke Avenue, Brooklyn,
N.Y. 11226, U.S.A.
r S5 9SS55 S 5
This international exhibition, to be held from 4 to 12 September 1971 in the Hungarian capital, will commemorate
the centenary of the first stamps of Hungary.
We have been informed that exhibits of recognized international standard will be accepted in any class from foreign
collectors and there will be no charge for the frames taken at the show.
Arrangements are being made for Rossica officers to take over and bring back personally by air any exhibits sub-
mitted by our members, the transportation and insurance costs to be prorated on a weight and value basis.
Will all those intending to display please contact the U.S. Commissioner for "Budapest-71," Mr. Geo. Zoltan
Lefton at 1555 Merchandise Mart, Chicago, III., 60654, IMMEDIATELY for the necessary application forms.
LIFE OF THE SOCIETY
Our hard-working member, Mr. C. P. Bulak of El Paso, Texas, received the Grand Award for a five-frame display of
selected Zemstvo material at the "SOUTHWESTPEX 1969" Exhibition of the New Mexico Philatelic Association,
held on 17-19 October 1969 in Santa Fe, New Mexico and heavily attended by collectors from many other states.
An important event for our Society was the outstanding success secured by our secretary, Joseph F. Chudoba, in
gaining the top award for best entry at the ASDA Show, held at New York's Madison Square Garden on 21-23
Our modest secretary showed his "First Issues of Imperial Russia," against very stiff competition from other very
fine exhibits on display. His award at this national postage stamp show was very well deserved as the same display
had previously obtained a silver-bronze medal at the "Sofia-69" International Philatelic Exhibition in Bulgaria.
The photograph herewith shows Joe and his treasures at the show.
Our secretary, Joseph F. Chudoba, with his top award Our Greek contributor Aimilios D. Xanthopoulos, with
exhibit at the 21st ASDA annual National Postage Norman Epstein, Kurt Adler, Rimma Sklarevski and
Stamp Show in New York 21-23 November 1969. Joseph Chudoba at the "Rossica" booth, ASDA Show
(left to right).
The following is a financial report as submitted by Treasurer Norman Epstein and accepted by a membership meet-
ing held in New York City on Sunday, November 30th 1969. Along with the report a bank statement was sub-
mitted, dated November 28th 1969 and verifying balance.
"Rossica" Society of Russian Philately
By Treasurer Norman Epstein
Bank Balance as of December 31st 1968 ......................................... $2,268.61
Deposits made up to and including October 31, 1969 ................. ........... .. 1,920.07
Total Expenditures as of October 31st 1969:
Checks issued ................... .................................. $2,582.75
Bank Service Charges .................................................. 17.92
Bank Balance as of October 31st 1969 ......................................... $1,588.01
Bank Deposit on November 26th 1969 ................... ...................... 272.50
Withdrawals (Checks #118 & #119) ........................ ............ ...... 104.00
As per Bank Statement Dated November 26th 1969 ........................... $1,756.51
Additional Deposit November 28th 1969 ......................................... .... 7.50
Balance in Bank Account as of November 30th 1969 ....................................... $1,764.01
PLEASE NOTE: From the above balance there is still to be deducted the costs of printing and mailing the com-
bined issues #76/77 of the "Rossica" Journal and other minor outstanding debts.
Joseph F. Chudoba
SPECIAL NOTICE TO OVERSEAS MEMBERS
Our members abroad are advised that the Journal is sent to them by surface mail. It seems that even to the nearest
European destinations, this can take as long as six weeks by sea. It is suggested that members wait two months be-
fore writing again about non-receipt of the Journal.
,,,~~, ,,,~~~~,,~ ~~~~~~~~- ~~~~ -- ----~-~--- -- ----------- --- ------~~****~*****
1969 Our 51st Year
EACH YEAR OUR PUBLIC AUCTIONS
AND GOLD MEDAL MAIL SALES
SELL OVER 75,000 LOTS!
WE URGENTLY NEED
We want the most for your stamps. We gladly pay it without delays or bargaining. Bring in personally, or send
in by insured mail or express, attention: Appraisal Dept.
All shipments are held aside intact awaiting your specific instructions after we send our offer or advice. Informal
appraisals are free, and our buyer can visit you to inspect larger properties.
915 Broadway Telephone:
New York, N.Y. 10010 J. & H. STOLOW, INC. (212) 533-0790
"Rated first in stamps by all standard authorities"
Stolow's has purchased outright, at the top market price, with immediate cash payment, more than $500,000,000
worth of fine stamps. Our needs are unlimited. Fair treatment is always assured.
A philatelic auction for the benefit of Rossica funds will be held at our Annual Meeting during the ASDA Show in
We appeal to all members either to donate material in our spheres of interest, or send in items for sale at the auction.
In the latter case, 20% of the proceeds will go to the Society's treasury.
All the material for the Sale should be in the hands of the Auction Coordinator by 1 October 1970 and sent to him
preferably by insured or registered mail. The Coordinator is Mel Bloch, 80 Winthrop St., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11225
We expect to get the catalog of the lots out to members by 1 November 1970, well in time for bids to be sent in.
Your wholehearted cooperation in this worthy venture is essential for the maintenance of the economic health of the
Many thanks in advance.
AN ASPECT OF RUSSIAN POSTAL ADMINISTRATION, 1917-1923
By J. Lee Shneidman, Ph. D.
Among the many problems facing Bolshevik authorities during the period 1917-1923 was the operation of the
postal service. While, to a considerable extent postal functions were maintained at a reasonable level of perfor-
mance throughout the period,' there was, nonetheless, a breakdown in postal efficiency. This breakdown was
caused neither by the war nor the defection of experienced personnel on the lower or intermediary levels of ad-
ministration, but rather by the inexperience, of the chief postal administrators in Petrograd and/or Moscow. It was
the central administrative center, as we shall see, which failed to solve the basic problems facing the postal service
during a period of an accelerating inflation complicated by an acute paper shortage.
By a chronological examination of the ability of the central authority to produce and distribute proper postage
stamps, and to inform local postmasters of the latest postal rates we can demonstrate the effectiveness of the early
Soviet postal administrators.
This study hopes to demonstrate the following: 1. during the period before the October/November revolution
postal service remained normal; 2. the central authority after the October/November revolution was unable to move
stocks of stamps existing in the Government Printing Office in Petrograd; 3. the Central Planning Commission,
which determined the issuance of new stamps, did not understand the dynamics of inflation and was therefore,
unable to foresee the postal needs for even one month in advance; 4. the shortsightedness of the Planning Commis-
sion, which forced citizens to use first dozens and then hundreds of stamps on each envelope, aggravated the paper
shortage; 5. local Soviet authorities were frequently ignorant of the latest postal rates established by the central
authority despite the fact that the local post office was also the telegraph office and, therefore, the hub of the
town's communications with the central government; 6. local authorities, both with and without specific authori-
zation, seized the initiative and attempted to solve the problems created by the central authorities' lack of ability
and foresight. In undertaking this study, we shall depend upon two unusual primary sources: the postage stamps
issued by both the central government and local postmasters, and envelopes and postal money transfer cards used
during the period.
Between November 1917 and May 1923, the Russian Socialist Federated Soviet Republic (RSFSR) issued or
reissued less than two hundred different stamps. These issues and reissues fall into three distinct categories:
(1) reissue of Tsarist stamps first issued in 1909-1912;2 (2) reissue of the Provisional Government's reissue of
Tsarist stamps (Scott, 108-109, 119-138), and part of the unissued Provisional Government set;3 (3) issues of the
Soviet Government (Scott, 177-241A, B14-B42, C1). Of the Soviet issues, a large number were surcharges (new
values printed on previous issues) on older stamps.4 In counting the number of distinct plate types used by the
Soviets for the issuing of stamps during the period 1917-1923, it was discovered that there were no more than 68
different plate designs of stamps, and 26 plate designs used for overprinting. Thus, from 94 plate designs about
two hundred stamps were produced.5
In most cases the two hundred stamps would afford the historian little information, but the period 1917-1923 was
so unusual that what was actually printed by the Soviet authorities was thousands of different stamps. The differ-
ences within a given type of stamps, as we shall see, were caused by paper shortages, ink shortages, and the break-
down of the machinery used in the production of stamps. We are able to use the differences in the stamps to date
the issuance of a specific stamp even though some of the plates will be used almost continuously from 1909 to
1923. We may also use the difference within an issue to measure the efficiency of the State Printing Office.
Before we proceed we must issue a warning: almost every Soviet stamp of the period has been counterfeited.
Stamps are counterfeited for many reasons: to defraud the government;6 to defraud collectors;7 or to discredit
the issuing government.8 One must be sure, therefore, that the stamps one is examining are genuine before one may
determine the quality of the Soviet issue. Furthermore, the Russians do not usually announce when they introduce
new plates in producing an issue, and, therefore, only by careful examination of the stamp itself can the philatelist
or historian determine changes in printing.9 It would seem that the Soviet Government did not destroy the plates
of the RSFSR issues because stamps of the period 1915-1923 were used for various purposes as late as 1934.10
One must also take care in using envelopes bearing stamps. It seems that even during periods of political and eco-
nomic turmoil there are philatelists who wish to profit by creating oddities. In using envelopes one must be sure
that the envelopes are not only genuine,11 but really reflect postal rates.12
When we examine the position of the Imperial postal service during the first few months of the war, we notice that
the war did have an effect. Russian mail to Western Europe was delayed. Deprived of the use of both the rail link
to Berlin, and the Baltic and Black Sea lanes, letters had to go to Finland, Sweden and Norway before sailing to
England and France. Another effect of the war was that Western businessmen in China began to depend upon the
Transsiberian railroad to maintain communications with home, with the result that the Russian post offices in
Peking and Tientsin handled not only the normal Russian mail but also English and French letters from as far south
as Canton. Whereas before the war it took from two to three weeks for a letter posted in a Russian post office in
China to reach Western Europe, during the period before the October/November revolution four to five weeks were
needed for the shipment of mail. The delay, however, was not caused by a breakdown in Imperial service, but by
the difficulty in getting the mail from Petrograd to the West.13
The war had other effects. In a desire to save paper and money the government decided to cease printing the large-
sized Romanov set, the higher values of which were either bicolored or engraved, and re-issue the typographed Arms
set of 1909/1912. But a problem arose: the ink used originally had been imported aniline dyes which were no
longer available.14 Rather than reissue the stamps in new colors, the State Printing Plant unsuccessfully attempted
to match the old dyes. The result was that the new issues, although of a high quality of workmanship, appeared in
harsh, bright colors.
In order to help pay for part of the cost of the war, the government, following the precedent established during the
Russo-Japanese War, ordered the Printing office to prepare a large-sized charity issue, the premium of which was to
be used to aid war victims. Several designs were submitted,15 but only the four vignettes prepared by the staff
artist Richards Zarrip were accepted (Scott, B5-B13). The stamps were of excellent quality even though four
cliches in the plate of the 10 k. + 1 k. (stamps no 43, 48, 93, and 98) showed an intersecting line in the lance of
St. George. In 1915 the stamps were reissued. Instead of using the expensive colored paper, however, the new issue
appeared on chalk surfaced (glossy) white paper. Furthermore, it was decided that the 7 k. + 1 k., which no longer
served a postal function, should have a limited issue.
The war placed other unusual strains upon the postal administration. In January 1914, there circulated in Russia
493.2 million gold rubles, 122.7 million in silver, and 1,664.7 million in paper.16 The paper currency was conver-
tible to specie because the government held 1,527.8 million in reserve at home, and another 167.4 million in foreign
banks. Unfortunately, the government was unable to recall all the bullion before the war started and, in July,
there was a slight panic when individuals converted paper into specie. The government countered with the Law of
July 27 (August 9) which ended specie payment. The result was not only the immediate disappearance of gold and
silver coins, but also the gradual hoarding of copper. By the summer of 1915, when the international value of the
ruble had fallen from its prewar value of 51.28 cents to 35 cents, and the shortage of silver change had become
acute," the government hit upon a novel solution: on September 29, 1915 the Romanov issue 10 k., 15 k., and
20 k. stamps were reissued on cardboard (Scott, 105-107) with an inscription on what should have been the gummed
side to the effect that these stamps were to be used on par with silver coins. Even though the Ministry of Finance
instructed postal authorities to levy a fine against all letters using the "money" as stamps,'8 philatelists used the
stamps with impunity: on November 11, 1915 a letter posted in Yur'ev with the 15 k. money stamp glued to the
face went through the mails without a fine.'9 Both philatelists and numismatists purchased whole sheets of these
money stamps and one can still find such sheets appearing at auction.20
As the change famine increased, due to the disappearance of copper coins, the government, in 1916 and 1917,
issued 1 k., 2 k., and 3 k. money stamps (Scott, 112-116, 139-141). By December 1919, the face value of the
money stamps amounted to 400,000,000 rubles.2'
As inflation began to eat at the Russian economy, the government was forced to raise international postal rates from
7 kopecks to 10 kopecks for both letters and registration. Some of the useless 7 k. and 14 k. stamps were over-
printed 10 k. and 20 k. respectively (Scott, 110-111, 117-118).
The February/March revolution created problems for the postal administration. In Petrograd, for example, a certain
Trachtenberg utilized stocks of stamps and began overprinting the Romanov issue with Liberty Caps, Crossed Swords,
and the Russian equivalent of Liberty, Fraternity, Equality. There is little doubt that these labels were made by
philatelically minded individuals, but they did have the tacit approval not only of the Petrograd Soviet, but also of
the Soviets in Odessa and Yekaterinodar.2 The fabricators also reprinted the first page of issues numbers 4 and 5
of the Soviet newspaper Izvestiya."2 In the confusion, both the Liberty Cap and the Newspaper overprints were
used as postage. Since the former was overprinted on blocks of four, and the latter on blocks of twelve, they pre-
paid more postage than was required. It is obvious, therefore, that these stamps were used by philatelists.
The Duma was faced with several other problems involving the posts. Until Richards Zarrigo submitted an acceptable
design for a new set of stamps, it was decided to continue reprinting the Arms issue. An unexpected complication
arose, however, when it was discovered that the machine which perforated the stamps had blunted points. Since the
machine had been manufactured in Austria, there was little hope of receiving spare parts.24 It was, therefore, de-
cided to release some of the stamps perforated (perf.), but the bulk of the new printing would be sent to the local
post offices in imperforate (imperf.) condition. Since the government had raised domestic postal rates to 5 kopecks
for a postcard, 10 kopecks per 30 grams for a local letter, 15 kopecks per 15 grams for an intercity letter and 20
kopecks for registration, and then, in September, had raised international rates to 8 kopecks for a postcard and 20
kopecks per 15 grams for a letter," it was decided that the 7 k. and 14 k. stamps were not needed.26
The Duma government, however had a difficult time in expediting the shipment of stamps to local post offices be-
cause the workers at the State Printing Office were on strike during most of April, May, and June, and engaged in
brief walk-outs from August until the Bolshevik take over in October/November.7
The postal authorities also were faced with a problem caused by the gradual collapse of the international value of
the ruble; it had fallen to 22 cents in July and 19 cents in August. The Tsarist government had maintained scores
of post offices in various parts of the Chinese Empire. In some areas such as Tannu Tuva, Mongolia, Manchuria, and
Sinkiang regular Russian stamps were used, but in the six Russian offices in China proper (Peking, Tientsin, Shanghai,
Chefoo, Kalgan, and Hankow) Russian stamps had been overprinted "Kitai."2' It was in China proper, where Russia
shared extraterritoriality with other European Powers and the United States, that the problem arose. Because of the
depreciation of the ruble Nonrussians were able to get a bargain by using the Russian post rather than either the
postal services of the other foreign powers or China. In order to stabilize prices, the Duma ordered the Arms set
overprinted in Chinese dollars at the rate of one ruble to one dollar, i.e., the 1 k. stamp was overprinted 1 cent, and
the 10 r. stamp became $10.00 (Scott, Russian Offices in China, 50-70). There was, however, one strange error:
the 14 k. stamp overprinted 14 cents appeared imperf. (Scott, 56a). Since that stamp was never regularly issued in
that condition, its appearance in Peking is somewhat of a mystery. The mystery is compounded by the fact that no
other imperf. variety has appeared." Naturally, the need to overprint thousands of stamps for the Chinese service
placed an additional strain upon the overburdened State Printing Office.
The Duma government faced two further problems. First, counterfeit copies of the 10 k. stamp began appearing in
7 the mails3 which forced the government to halt printing of that stamp. Second, the complete disappearance of
copper coins forced the government to issue 1 k., 2 k., and 3 k. Romanov stamps on heavy paper for coins. The
inscription on the reverse was similar to the Tsarist money stamps, with the exception that the Imperial Eagle had
been replaced by a large numeral.
Having examined the general problems facing postal authorities prior to the October/November Revolution, we may
now turn to the specific question of the ability of the Tsarist and Duma governments to supply local post offices
with the proper stamps to fulfill normal requirements. We shall attempt to demonstrate that the wartime govern-
ment actually succeeded, despite all its problems, in supplying the needs of the local communities.
There is very little direct information concerning quantities of stamps available at local post offices prior to the
Bolshevik coup. The task of discovering the availability of proper stamps, moreover, is complicated by the fact that
some forty Zemstvo (county government) post offices continued to function after the February/March Revolution.
Since the Zemstvo posts, which were outside the jurisdiction of the Imperial postal authorities, carried a consider-
able portion of the local mail in Imperial Russia, areas where Zemstvos existed and used Zemstvo stamps would have
less of a stock of Imperial stamps than those areas which were entirely dependent upon the Imperial postal service.
In 1917, for example, the three Perm Government towns of Shadrinsk, Kamyshlov and Solikamsk, as well as Ust-
Syssolsk (Vologda Prov.), Bugulma and Buzuluk in Samara Government, Skopin (Rjazan Prov.), and Nolinsk (Vyatka
Prov.) issued Zemstvo stamps. In 1918, Lebedin (Kharkov Prov.), Zmeinogorsk (Tomsk Prov.), Perm City and
Cherdyn in Perm Government, and Kotelnich (Vjatka Prov.) issued local stamps, while in 1919, the Zemstvos in
Krasnoufimsk (Tomsk Prov.) and Zmeinogorsk issued stamps.31 In most instances the number of stamps printed by
Zemstvo authorities for any one issue was under 3,000, but, occasionally, as the Kadnikov (Vologda Prov.) issue of
1916 (10,000 copies) or the Vol'sk (Vologda Prov.) issue of 1914-1916 (34,750 copies) the issues were of ten
thousand or more." It is almost impossible to determine how much mail was carried by the Zemstvo post offices
after either the February/March or the October/November revolutions. The fact that the Zemstvo of Kotelnich was
able to issue a 50 k. stamp in 1920,33 however, would indicate that the Zemstvo system continued to serve a useful
purpose long after the Bolshevik seizure of power. In two cases, that of Luga (Petrograd Gov.) in 1918, and Cherdyn
in 1919, local Soviets, replacing the Zemstvo officials, issued stamps.34
We do not know the reaction of the Petrograd government to the postal activities of the Cherdyn officials, but when
the Central Committee realized that Luga had issued stamps not only for local mail, which was all that the Zemstvos
has been authorized to do, but also for interprovincial mail, they demanded that the twelve stamps (six perf. and six
imperf.) with a face value of 5 k., 10 k., 50 k., 1 r., 3 r., and 5 r. be immediately surrendered. The order was
If we disregard the peculiar action at Luga and consider only the other Zemstvo posts, it is obvious that in areas
where the Zemstvo posts functioned, there would be less of a need for the 3 k. or 5 k. Imperial stamps than in
areas without the local postal system. Since the Zemstvos served only local needs, all Russian post offices would have
an equal amount of other Tsarist stamps. The exact quantity of stamps in any given post office would be determined
by the needs of the community which the office served.
Unable to find direct information concerning the stamps available at local post offices prior to the October/November
Revolution, we may deduce that information by examining the postal emissions of the various White and Indepen-
dent governments established during the period 1917-1920. The Ukrainian People's Republic, for example, realizing
that the five rather crude stamps it had issued were insufficient to service the postal needs of the country,35 declared
that, after August, 1918, Tsarist stamps which had been either overprinted or handstamped with the Ukrainian St.
Vladimir's Trident would be valid for postage. The government had planned to typograph the overprints on presses
located in Kiev, Odessa, and Kharkov, but the needs were such that local postmasters in Chernigov, Zhitomir, Poltava,
and throughout Podolia made crude handstamps which were applied to existing stocks. These hundreds of distinct
overprints have been identified.36 It is because of this identification that we can determine what was available in
specific places. While, generally speaking, the post offices in Kiev, Kharkov, and Odessa had copies of all the Arms
stamps, there were a few values missing. Kiev had no copies of either the 20 k. or 10 r. imperf. stamps; the 4 k.,
20 k., and 70 k. imperf. stamps were absent from the Kharkov post offices, while the 4 k., 20 k., 5 r., 7 r., and
10 r. imperf. stamps were in short supply in Odessa. In Yekaterinoslav there were no 5 r. and 10 r. perf. stamps,
while the 5 r. and 7 r. imperf. stamps were in short supply. In Poltava only the 2 k., 3 k., 5 k., 10 k., 15 k., 20 k.,
25 k., 50 k., 70 k., and 1 r. perf., and the 1 k., 2 k., 3 k., 15 k., 35 k., and 1 r. imperf. were available. To com-
pensate for a shortage of the lower values, the postmaster overprinted the 1 k., 5 k., and 10 k. postal savings stamps
with the Trident and used them for postage. In Podolia the 10 k. and 10 r. perf., and the 4 k., 20 k., 70 k., and
10 r. imperf. stamps were missing, while the 4 k., 5 k., 5 r., and 7 r. perf., and the 2 k., 15 k., 35 k., 5 r., and 7 r.
imperf. stamps were in short supply. The 70 k. chain-cutter Soviet issue was found only in Podolia, while the
3.50 r. and 7 r. 1902 issue was found, in limited quantities, in most large urban post offices. Some of the 1913
Romanov issue and the 1915 and 1916 charity issues have been seen legitimately used on cover, but it is now agreed
that these stamps were brought to the post office for overprinting.
From the Ukrainian evidence it would seem that not even the larger post offices had a complete set of all available
stamps, but, with the exception of the ruble values, all post offices had an adequate supply of either perforated or
imperforate stamps. In fact, the only indication we have of any shortage of stamps is the appearance, prior to
August 1918, of the 1 r. value bisected in Odessa and Poltava to pay the 50 kopeck postal rate.37 Since both cities
had an adequate supply of the 50 k. stamp after August, and the Ukrainian government had not received a fresh
supply of these stamps from Petrograd, we may assume, accepting the validity of the covers examined, that the
shortages were of a temporary nature and limited to one or two local post offices within the city.
Turning to an examination of the stamp supply in Tiflis, we notice that there was an adequate supply of all the
perforated values, but the imperf. stamps were few and in short supply. The local postmaster, furthermore, did not
like'to use the imperf. stamps because they had to be cut apart with scissors. Without authorization, the post-
master gave his imperf. stamps to a local printer who rouletted them. Since the machine used in rouletting was rather
crude, the small slits in the paper did not make separation of the individual stamps easier. The postmaster, having a
sufficient supply of the perforated values, put the troublesome rouletted stamps aside and willingly sold the entire
lot to JJ. Darlow, a visiting Englishman, in March, 1919. The postmaster may have repented his haste, because by
the spring of 1919 he was running out of stamps. The Georgian postal service was saved, however, when a set of
six locally printed stamps with a face value of 10 k., 40 k., 50 k., 60 k., 70 k., and 1 r. (Scott, Georgia 12-17)
arrived on May 26, 1919. It was only then that the Tsarist stamps were declared invalid."
The philatelic situation in Armenia was complicated. Armenia, theoretically, had been independent of Petrograd
since December 18, 1917, when the Erzinjian Armistace was signed, but the Armenians did not establish an effec-
tive government until May 28, 1918. In the areas under the control of the Dahsnak government, Tsarist stamps were
used, but in areas under Turkish control, Trukish stamps were used. Since the boundaries of Armenia were fluid, a
town would use Russian stamps one week and Turkish stamps the next. Until the fall of 1919 the Dashnak govern-
ment realized that there were sufficient stocks of Imperial stamps to serve the needs of the Armenian people and,
therefore, the Armenians did not print their own stamps. In October 1918, however, because of the rise in postal
rates, the Dashnak government decided to overprint the obsolete 1 k. stamps as 60 k. The following month, the
government, fearing a loss of revenue, declared that only those Tsarist stamps which had been overprinted with a
stylized "H.P." in Armenian letters (Hayastan Post -Armenian Post) which looks like a "Z" would be valid for
postage. Because of these overprints, we have an accurate picture of what was available in Armenian post offices
in November 1919. There were no 1 k., 2 k., or 3 k. perforated stamps, but large stocks of the imperf. varieties;
the 4 k. was found only perforated; large stocks of both the perf. and imperf. 5 k. were available. There were no
7 k., 14 k., or 20 k. on 14 k. perforated stamps. Substantial stocks of the 10 k. on 7 k., 10 k., 15 k., 20 k., 25 k.,
35 k., 50 k., 1 r., 3.50 r., 5 r., 7 r., and 10 r perforated stamps were available. There were no copies of the 10 k.,
20 k., 25 k., 35 k., 50 k., 7 r., and 10 r. imperf. stamps, while the 15 k. and 5 r. imperf. were in short supply.
Among the higher values, only the 70 k. and 1 r. imperf. were in adequate supply." It would thus seem that, a
year after being cut off from the source of the supply of stamps, Armenian post offices still had sufficient stocks
of stamps to maintain local service. In fact, there is no noticeable shortage of stamps in Armenia until the fall of
In the southern part of Russia, General Krasnov found that there were sufficient stocks of most issues until the fall
of 1918 when inflation forced a run on the 25 k. and 50 k. values. The general ordered the useless 1 k., 2 k., and
3 k. perforated and imperforate stamps, and the 4 k. perf. stamp overprinted 25 k.; the obsolete 7 k. stamp was
overprinted 50 k."4 Meanwhile, the Kuban government, faced with a similar situation in September, overprinted the
1 k., 2 k., and 3 k., perf. and imperf. stamps 25 k., 50 k., and 1 r. All unoverprinted stamps, however, were sold at
their face value." During 1919 the 70 k. stamp disappeared from post offices stocks of the perf. and imperf.
5 k. stamps were overprinted to fill the void. As inflation advanced during 1919 and 1920, stocks of the 1 k., 3 k.,
and 15 k. perf. and imperf. stamps, the 7 k., 14 k., and 25 k. perforated stamps, and the 1 k., 5 k., and 10 k.
postal savings stamps were overprinted in various denominations from 70 k. to 25 r.42
An interesting picture is painted when one examines the amount of stamps taken from Russia by the retreating
army of General Wrangel in 1920. Many of these stamps were overprinted in Constantinople and used by the
troops in special camps established in Constantinople, Belgrade, Bizerte, etc. We have an accurate account of both
Russian and Russian stamps with Ukrainian Tridents overprinted by the Wrangel officials.4
Face Perforated Issues Imperforate Issues
Value Russian Ukrainian Russian Ukrainian Total
1 k. 300 34,800 200 90,450 135,250
2 k. 300 250 300 850
3 k. 126,100 39,400 700 16,800 183,000
4 k. 20,400 7,900 28,300
5 k. 20,300 50 200 20,550
7 k. 22,000 25,000 47,000
10 k./7 k. 6,400 6,000 12,400
10 k. 4,700 53,900 58,600
14 k. 100 100
15 k. 9,000 200 9,200
20 k./14 k. 300 2,000 2,300
20 k. 1,800 38,300 200 40,300
25 k. 3,500 3,500
35 k. 5,900 200 50 6,150
50 k. 6,900 85,100 1,000 200 93,200
70 k. 9,150 1,000 9,450
1 r. 4,440 16,200 20,640
3.50 r. 100 100
3.50 r. 1,500 900 2,400
5 r. 25 1,800 1,825
7r. 200 200
7r. 25 100 125
10r. 950 950
I k. postal 200 200
5 k. postal 6,600 6,600
10 k. postal 6,600 6,600
While the above table may not be used as proof of what was available at post offices prior to the October/
November Revolution, it, nevertheless, accurately reflects that period. There were more perforated stamps than
imperforate stamps available except for the lowest values; there were few if any Romanov stamps at the stamp
counters; the charity set had been exhausted; postal savings stamps were used as normal postage; one would find in
local post offices a few odd values of the 1889-1902 issue." The true significance of the table, however, is that it
demonstrates that, despite being cut off from the source of stamps in Petrograd, the area of southern Russia did
have large stocks of stamps.
When one examines letters mailed during the Duma period one will find few indications of a shortage of stamps.
Most letters are franked with one, two, or at most three stamps. When one does find more than three stamps on the
envelope, such as a letter with ten 1 k. stamps sent from Yur'ev (Dorpat, Tartu) to Stomersee on August 5, 1917,
one suspects that this was done for philatelic reasons rather than because there were no 2 k., 5 k., or 10 k. stamps
If we may project for a moment, it would seem that the Duma government was able to supply most post office with
an adequate supply not only to take care of immediate needs, but also for future demands. During the first six
months of the Bolshevik government there seems to be little indication of stamp shortages. Even where six stamps
were used on an envelope, as in another letter from Yur'ev to Stomersee, this one mailed on June 20, 1918, the
insured registered postage of 2 rubles 44 kopecks could have been accomplished only with a minimum of five
stamps-two 1 r., two 20 k., and one 4 k. In a similar fashion, a registered letter mailed in Petrograd on May 3, 1918
and reaching Detroit, Michigan on October 1, 1918 contains three 20 k. stamps, but it would seem that affixing three
20 k. stamps is just as easy as using one 10 k. and one 50 k. stamp.'"
To sum up the period between the two revolutions, we pay say that, despite the serious problems facing the Duma
government, it was able to ship sufficient stamps to the various parts of the Russian Empire and those parts of China
under Russian control. While complete sets were unavailable, all values needed were represented in either perforated
or imperforate condition. Furthermore, stamps were shipped in sufficient quantities to maintain normal postal service
until at least early 1918, and in some instances to mid-1920. Where there was a shortage of stamps it appeared in
stamps above the ruble value. This shortage was caused by two factors. First, by tradition, the Imperial State Print-
ing Works kept large stocks of kopek stamps and shipped these stamps almost automatically to local post offices, but
the ruble values were printed and then shipped only after the receipt of a specific order. There were, therefore, no
stocks of these stamps in the Printing Office, and local post offices had only those ruble values which they had
specifically requested. Since there was very little use for stamps with a face of 3.50 r. ($1.78 in 1914) or more, it
would be unlikely that any but the largest urban post offices would have much of a stock of these stamps. The
second cause of the shortage was the rise in postal rates which hit the ruble values hardest. Those areas of Russia not
in direct communication with Petrograd soon discovered that they had large stocks of low values but an insufficient
quantity of the higher values. The fact that the various non-Bolshevik governments had large quantities of these
lower values which they could overprint is indicative of the fact that there were sufficient stamps available before the
inflation affected the postal rates.
Turning to events after the October/November Revolution, it would seem that the coup had no immediate effect
upon the postal service. With the exception of Finland, where, since October 1, 1917, republican stamps were begin-
ning to replace Russian stamps, and those parts of Western Russia using German or Polish stamps," all Russian post
offices continued to-use Tsarist stamps. As indicated, the post offices had sufficient stocks of the Arms issue, but
other issues had been exhausted.
There is a slight change in affairs during the first three months of 1918. In the first place the Bolshevik government
had been forced to print 6,000,000,000 rubles in paper and money stamps with the result that the value of the ruble
fell to about 11 cents.47 Responding to the inflation, on January 26, 1918, Narkompochtel (National Commissariat
of Posts and Telegraph) decreed that, as of February 28, 1918, new postal rates would go into effect for internal
mail: the postcard would cost 20 kopecks, local letters would cost 30 kopecks for the first three ounces and 5
kopecks for each additional half ounce or fraction thereof, intercity letters would cost 35 kopecks for each half
ounce or fraction thereof, and registered letters would cost 70 kopecks plus postage." Since the new rates placed
a strain on the supplies of 35 k., 70 k., and 1 r. stamps (a registered letter of minimum weight cost 1.05 r.) the
government decided to release the 35 k. and 70 k. chain-cutter stamps.
On March 10, 1918, international rates were increased: 12 kopecks for a postcard, 30 kopecks for an ordinary
letter, and another 30 kopecks for registration. That external rates were lower than domestic rates is demonstrated
by a 4 k. postcard mailed from Moscow on June 14, 1918 and addressed to someone in Wales, U.K., to which had
been added two 4 k. stamps. A registered letter sent from Vladivostok to Newberryport Mass. on July 2, 1918, has
60 kopecks in stamps affixed.4
In examining covers sent through the mail in the six months prior to September 14, 1918, when new rates were
introduced, one notices the beginnings of stamp shortages The letter to Newberryport mentioned above, for exam-
pie, contained two 20 k. imperf., one 15 k. perf., two 2 k. imperf., and one 1 k. postal savings stamp. Narkom-
pochtel had authorized the use of the postal savings stamps on January 12, 1918, but one finds few examples of
their use until the summer. By mid-1918 these stamps were becoming common. On June 21, 1918, for example,
P.I. Girshman, who was visiting outside of Moscow city limits, addressed a letter to his home in Moscow. The
letter contained one 10 k. on 7 k., two 4 k., eight 1 k. postal savings stamps, and two 5 k. postal savings stamps.
On July 7, 1918, a locally addressed postcard was mailed in Mogilev with one 15 k. Arms stamp and one 5 k.
postal savings stamp.30 It may be that philatelists were having a field day using these postal savings stamps more
than needed, but there seems to be little doubt that the savings stamps were needed to fill the growing void in
normal postage. What is amazing, however, is that one finds few examples of the chain-cutter stamps. Narkom-
pochtel released the stamps in Petrograd in March 1918, but it was not until October 25, 1918, that post offices
had a sufficient stock. By that date, however, new rates had been established and these stamps had little purpose.
The only area under Soviet control which was forced to create its own stamps to fill the normal postal needs during
this period was the Black Sea town of Sochi,"s where three low value stamps were overprinted 60 k. to pay postage
on foreign registered letters. These stamps, however, are under a cloud of suspicion and we really cannot accept
them as proof of a shortage of stamps.
There seems to be no question, however, that the Russian post office in Kashgar, Sinkiang, had exhausted its supply
of 3.50 r., 5 r., and 7 r. stamps. We have two registered insured letters dated May 29, 1918,2 which demonstrates
this: the first letter has five imperf. 1 r. and two perf. 70 k. stamps; the second letter has twenty-four perf. 25 k.
and two perf. 20 k. stamps. Since we do have part of an envelope mailed on May 15, 1918 with a 3.50 r. stamp
affixed, it would seem that the post office ran out of the high values in the two weeks between the two dates."
It would also seem that the first letter exhausted the last available 1 r. stamps.
Narkompochtel took an unusual step on September 15, 1918: they lowered domestic postal rates. A postcard
would cost 10 kopecks; local letters would cost 15 kopecks for each 15 grams or fraction thereof; intercity rates
were lowered to 25 kopecks for each 15 grams or fraction thereof; the registration fee was also reduced to 25
kopecks." The reduction of postal rates would seem unnatural in light of the fact that the Soviets had issued
another 20 billion rubles worth of Tzarist and Duma paper rubles, and the value of the ruble had fallen to 6 cents."
The reason for the action, however, was simple: some Russians, not trusting the posts, had established a private
postal system. Sometime in the middle of 1918 a strange stamp began appearing on letters. The stamp carried the
following legend: "In accordance with an agreement between the addressee and the receiver a fee of 10 kopecks
is to be paid to the postman delivering this letter."" The private postal system bothered the Bolsheviks. In a
successful attempt to force the private postal service out of business, government rates were reduced.
On December 24, 1918 the All Russian Executive Committee announced that, as of January 1, 1919, all domestic
postcards would be carried free of charge. All letters under 15 grams would also be carried without postage, but
overweight letters would be charged 15 kopecks for each additional 15 grams or fraction thereof. The fee for regis-
tration would remain at 25 kopecks." Considering that between the end of September and the beginning of January
the Soviets had printed another 10,000,000,000 rubles and that the value of the ruble had fallen to 3 cents, the
action of the Committee would serve to reduce the government's income and force an acceleration of the inflation.
Some planners in Petrograd, however, were looking forward to the day when money would be abolished and, there-
fore, the inflation meant nothing to them.
The establishment of a free, or at most nominal postal rate, did not end the need for postage stamps. The inflation
had placed an unusual strain upon the nonpostal functions of the post office. Between January and November 1919,
the government had printed 110 billion rubles in paper, and the value of the ruble had fallen from about 40 to the
dollar to almost 300 to the dollar. On May 15, 1919, the Sovnarkom had permitted banks to issue as much money
"as was actually needed."" The result was the introduction of the so-called "Credit Notes of 1918," which were
printed in Penza.6 The government was also issuing "token" money as well as Tsarist and Duma notes. Because
of the inflation, however, the Soviets stopped printing the money stamps. The gradual collapse of the ruble had
forced citizens to spend their money as fast as they could. Sometimes, however, an individual wanted to send money
from one part of Russia to the other. Despite the civil war, the safest way to transfer money was via a postal note.
The process was simple: one went to the post office and gave the clerk a sum of money. The clerk would then fill
out an address form stating the amount transferred. A charge of about 1% percent plus 50 kopecks for the form was
levied on the transaction. The charge was paid by purchasing stamps which were affixed to the form. The form was
then sent through the mails like a regular letter. At the other end, the recipient would receive the form and then
cash it at the post office. Because of the inflation, the number of stamps used for each transaction rose as the value
of the ruble fell.
An example of such a transaction occurred when, on January 27, 1919, an individual in Gavrilovskoe (Semirechensk
Oblast, near the frontier of Sinkiang) sent 1041 rubles to an individual in Dzharkent, also in Central Asia. The form
arrived in Dzharkent on February 12, but the recipient had left for Khorgos. The form followed him, but by the
time it arrived, the addressee had moved to Kopal. Again the form followed. On June 6, 1919 the form finally
reached its destination.6' During the time between the sending of the money order and its receipt, the value had
fallen from $31.00 to $5.00.
There is an interesting sidelight to this transaction: the price for the transfer of the form was 17.50 r. The post-
master in Gavrilovskoe placed on the form one 5 r. stamp, one 3.50 r. stamp, and three 3 r. control stamps. The
use of the control (Tax) stamp, unlike that of the postal savings stamps, had not been legalized. Since this transfer
is obviously nonphilatelic, the fact that three illegal stamps were legally used by a postal official can only indicate
that there was a shortage of stamps-one 10 r., one 7 r. and one 50 k. could have been used. As we shall see, in
March 1920, the only legal stamps in the Gavrilovskoe post office were the 5 k. and 15 k. perforated Arms issue.
Stamps served another purpose: to pay for the shipment and insurance of parcels. An individual would bring a
parcel to the post office where the clerk would figure the cost of shipping and insurance. The stamps to pay for
the shipping were affixed to the package, but the insurance fee was affixed to the stub of the insurance receipt main-
tained by the postal authorities in their record book. In examining pages 184 and 185 of a Petrograd post office
insurance record book (March 8, to early May 1919), one notices that all the Tsarist perforated stamps, except the
5 r., were available. One also finds the 5 r. imperf. and the 70 k. chain-cutter stamp used." If Petrograd had a great
variety of stamps, it was almost unique. Throughout the provinces one sees evidence of a growing shortage of stamps.
A parcel receipt from Uspenskaya, dated December 10, 1918, contains thrity-five 71 k. and six 50 k. stamps; another
receipt, from Voronovo, dated April 9, 1919, contains ten 70 k. chain-cutter stamps, eleven 1 r., and one each 25 k.
and 50 k. Arms stamps; a third receipt, from Zheludok, dated October 1, 1919, contains one 5 r., eight 1 r., twelve
50 k., and twenty-five 20 k. Arms stamps; a fourth receipt, from Zhitomir, dated March 6, 1919, has five 5 k. postal
savings stamps affixed."
Stamps served a third purpose: to pay for letters going abroad. Russia was pretty isolated at this time since Sweden
refused to accept responsibility for the shipment of mail going to Russia, while the United States had placed an
embargo on all mail. Unable to ship mail through Sweden, whatever mail was sent out of Russia left via Vladivostok,
which created a serious problem for those living in western Russia. The net result of the embargo and the diffi-
culties seems to have been an absolute reduction in the amount of mail leaving the RSFSR. It is, therefore, difficult
for postal historians to determine what stamps were used on foreign mail. Lenin had indicated that workers could
send mail to the RSFSR without postage," but we are positive that letters leaving Russia had to pay postage. A
registered letter from Soviet-held Irkutsk to Waterloo, Ontario, for example, was franked with five 10 k. stamps on
February 22, 1919, while another registered letter, this one from Moscow to Canton, Ohio, mailed on July 16, 1919,
contains two 50 k. stamps."
Some information concerning the availability of stamps in Soviet Russia during the early part of 1919 may be
gathered from an examination of the stamps issued by the armies of General Yudenich. In May 1919, the Estonian
based army of General Rodzianko crossed the Narva River and occupied the frontier towns of Gdov and Yamburg,
while a second force moved south of Lake Peipus and seized the governmental capital of Pskov. On June 14, 1919,
Admiral Kolchak, who had been recognized by the White forces as their supreme commander, appointed General
Yudenich commander-in-chief of the operation. On August 11, the Provisional Government of the North West
Army was organized. The government decided to take the stamps found in the Pskov post office and overprint them
(Scott, 151-164). To indicate the conservative nature of the army, the old Church-Slavonic alphabet rather than the
standard Cyrillic was employed. What was available for overprinting? Of the perforated issues, only the 2 k., 5 k.,
10 k., 15 k., 20 k., 25 k., 50 k., 1 r., and 10 r. were found in sufficient quantities, while only the 3 k., 3.50 r.,
5 r., and 10 r. imperf. issues were found. Small quantities of the 1 k., 2 k., 5 k., 15 k., 70 k., and 1 r. imperf. and
the 20 k. on 14 k. perf. were also found, but these stamps, along with twenty-five purposedly made inverted over-
prints, were overprinted as presents for various dignitaries.6 One may presume that all the stamps found were
overprinted. Pskov was not only the governmental capital but also a major rail center, yet the city post office had
neither the 4 k. nor 35 k. stamps, and was short of 70 k. stamps. One may that, when the Red Army reoccupied
the city at the end of August, Pskov was left without any postage stamps.
General Yudenich opened a second offensive against Petrograd in September, but this time there were no stamps
to overprint. Needing stamps, the general found an obliging printer who lithographed five crude stamps on cheap
paper (Scott, Army of the North, 1-5). These stamps saw very little legitimate use since the Red Army reoccupied
the area by the end of December. Most cancelled stamps were cancelled, as a favor to philatelists, in the shack of
the Moloskovitsy railroad station which served as the army's communication headquarters.67
We may summarize the first eleven months of relative free postal service as a period in which one notices a marked
shortage of stamps in several communities outside of Petrograd and Moscow. The shortage is demonstrated either by
the use of unauthorized stamps, as was the case in Gavrilovskoe, or the use of large blocks of low denominations as
was the case with the use of ten 70 k. chain-cutter stamps instead of one 7 r. stamp, or the use of twenty-five 20 k.
stamps in place of one 5 r. stamp. We may assume that by November 1919, most prewar stocks of stamps had been
exhausted and that, with the exception of stamps used by philatelists, anything used after that date was either the
remnant of stocks of low values issued by the Duma government, or new issues provided by the Soviets. If, there-
fore, a town did not have postage stamps, it was because the central government failed to send them.
On November 1, 1919, the government raised the rates for overweight letters and registration: a letter over 15 grams
would be charged 1 ruble for each 15 grams or fraction thereof; the registration charge was 3 rubles for a postcard
and a minimum of 4 rubles for a letter." In order to provide stamps for the new rates, the government rushed into
production the old 1 r., 3.50 r., and 7 r. stamps,6 but, in order to save paper, they changed the format of the
sheets. Whereas the old stamps had appeared in vertical sheets of 8 x 7 to produce fifty vignettes plus six blanks,
the new sheets were 5 x 10 in horizontal form. On the old stamps, the lines of varnish were vertical; on the reissues
they were horizontal.
The reprinting was sloppy. Stamps appeared with missing centers, double, shifted, and inverted centers; missing
background, double, shifted, and inverted backgrounds. Originally the stamps had been printed in exact sequence of
stages; first the background was printed on gummed paper, then the foreground, then the center, then the stamps
were embossed, and finally the lines of varnish were applied to prevent cancellations from being removed. In a
rush to print the stamps, the printers would print the stamps on the gummed side, or put the sheets in sideways, or
pay no attention to the sequence of printing, or even omit a step. Eventually the embossing step was completely
eliminated with the result that the center frequently looked like a formless blob.70
Did the stamps reach their destinations? It would seem not. In examining registered letters of the 4 ruble rate from
Khovrino (Simbirsk) mailed on November 26, Siyava (Simbirsk) mailed on December 1, Tsaritovo (Moscow) mailed
on December 20, and Pavlovo-on-Oka (Moscow) mailed on December 27, I found no ruble stamps." A parcel
receipt from Orekhovo Galichskoe of December 11, 1919 contains seven 10 r., two 2 k., and sixty-five 15 k.
One would expect to find a shortage of stamps in Kharbin, which had been cut off from Petrograd since the
October/November Revolution-a letter mailed in Kharbin on December 26, 1919 used fourteen 15 k. stamps3-but
the shortages in Moscow Province is strange. Considering the efficiency of the postal service prior to the Bolshevik
coup, and the continued ability of the postal system to carry the mails after that event, one can ascribe the stamp
shortages in Russia proper only to a breakdwon in the ability of the Central Planning Commission to distribute
stamps. The evidence is clear that the officials in Petrograd knew of the problem. The fact that they rushed new
printing of the Arms issue to press, that they authorized the use of postal savings stamps where postage stamps were
lacking, that they even authorized local postmasters to make little hand stamps which stated "For want of stamps,
the rate of -- rub. --. kop, has been collected in cash,"74 testifies to their awareness. Being aware is one thing,
knowing how to solve the problem is another. Even the use of the Russian language hand stamp for towns without
stamps created problems for the recipient of a Russian letter in a foreign country the local clerks, unable to read
Russian, upon seeing an envelope without stamps would charge the recipient "postage due.""
The lack of stamps forced the Perm Soviets in Krasnoufimsk and Cherdyn, and the Soviet in Zmeinogorsk (Tomsk
Gov.) to issue its own stamps. In light of the current rates at the time, however, one wonders why the face value
of the issues were 10 k., 20 k., and 35 k.76 Did the local postmasters sell these stamps at ten times face value?
On March 10, 1920, the Soviets again raised the overweight and registration rates: over 15 grams was 5 r. per 15
grams or fraction thereof, while registration cost a minimum of 10 rubles." On June 7, 1920, international postal
rates were also increased: 4 rubles for a postcard, 10 rubles for each 15 grams of a letter, and 10 rubles for registra-
tion. On February 1, 1921, the international rates were doubled," but the domestic rates remained constant until
The March rates were still nominal since inflation had begun to reduce the ruble to a scrap of paper.7
Billions of rubles number of rubles
Month Year in circulation to the U.S. dollar
March 1920 293 1,250
June 1920 450 2,000
September 1920 651 9,000
January 1921 1,168 15,000
The ruble was becoming an international joke. In Berlin, for example, in May 1920, one pound sterling equalled
140 German Marks, while one mark equalled 38 rubles, which meant that a pound note was worth 5320 rubles, but
in Moscow on the same day, a pound note was worth 10,000 rubles, while a pound letter of credit was worth only
2,000 rubles." To add to the moneychangers' confusion, Tsarist and Duma notes, which were still being used in
non-Soviet occupied territories, were still being printed, and brought fifty to sixty times their face value in Soviet
Credit Notes or "token money."'8
Despite the free or nominal mail rates, there was a chronic shortage of stamps. The State Printing Office, which had
been printing the ruble values since last November, was ordered to reprint all kopek values of the Arms set, with the
exception of the exception of the 7 k. and 14 k., up to and including the 20 k., and place them on sale at one
hundred times face value, i.e., 1 k. stamp was sold for 1 r. The new policy created some confusion because both
the 1 k. and 1 ruble stamps sold for one ruble, and the 10 k. and 10 r. stamps sold for ten rubles, but the 25 k.
stamp sold for 25 kopeks.
The rush order notwithstanding, stamps did not arrive at post offices. Local postmasters were forced to improvise
in order to prevent the use of old stamps. Between June 16, 1920 and October 1, 1920, two hundred-thirty-six
postmasters in the governments of Kharkov, Kursk, Minsk, etc. overprinted available stocks with "Rub.""2
Throughout Soviet-held territory, local postmasters were either handwriting some form of the word ruble on their
short supply of stamps, or, as in Tashkent, using authorized tax stamps for postage." Because of the severe short-
age of stamps, and because many of the stamps were overprinted after being affixed to an envelope, there are few
genuine copies of these issues in mint condition."
To understand the nature of the shortage of stamps, we must examine the various local issues. The localities forced
to issue their own stamps fall into two rough categories: those located in the heart of Soviet controlled territory, and
those on the periphery. I will discuss the latter group first because I wish to discard that particular evidence even
though I feel that most of the information is valid for our discussion. The reason for rejecting evidence which I
believe germane is that I wish to preclude the argument that the shortage was caused by the ravages of the war.
There is no doubt in my mind that all the overprints were created to fill immediate needs, but with some of the
stamps it could be argued that the need for the overprint was caused by military matters rather than the collapse of
the Soviet central authority.
There is, for example, a 35 k. stamp which was overprinted 35 r. in the town of Petrovsk (Daghestan Obl.), but we
do not know who issued the stamp. It might have been issued by either the retreating White forces, or the advancing
Red Army.8 We know that there was a shortage of stamps throughout Daghestan and that local Red Army com-
manders had authorized the overprinting of various stamps in black and violet," but, since Daghestan was frequently
outside of direct Soviet control, such a shortage would seem normal. On the other end of the Caucasian front, the
Red Army commander in Armavir (Kuban Obl.) authorized the issuance of three hundred 10 r. on 15 k., and five
hundred 25 r. on 3 k. Again, there was a need for the stamps, but since the Red Army overprints look very much
like the normal overprints of the Kuban government (White Army), we cannot say that these stamps were not made
to confuse the enemy.87 Still a third set to be rejected, is the issue from the town of Chelyabinsk (Ufa Gov.). The
reason for not considering this issue is that we are not sure if the stamps were made by Soviet troops or those of
Admiral Kolchak. Since the stamps look very much like the normal Kolchak overprints, if they were made by Soviet
troops, they might have been fabricated to confuse the White Army." In any event, the above mentioned issues
were all executed along a battle front and are therefore, excluded from discussion.
For the sake of argument, we may say that the local issues from Dubrovskoe, Yakutsk, Olekminsk, and Nokhtuisk
in the province of Yakutsk," and the stamps from Akmolinsk, Barnaul, Kokchetav, Spirino, Novocherkasskoe, and
Tomsk in the west-central Siberia region,9 and emissions from Ashkhabad, Gavrilovskoe, Kustanai, Ryazanovka, and
Tashkent in Central Asia, 91 are to be dismissed either because of the fluid nature of the battle front, or because of
the lack of direct communications between these outposts of Soviet power and the center of that authority in
Petrograd. To satisfy those who wish to blame all the confusion in Russia on the war, I will also remove from con-
sideration the local issues in the four Ukrainian governments of Kiev, Kharkov, Poltava, and Yekaterinodar, the two
central Russian provinces of Orel and Voronezh (because they had been ravaged during the Denikin offensive), the
western provinces of Vitebsk, Mogilev, and Chernigov (because of the confusion caused by the Polish offensive), and
the northern province of Arkhangelsk (because of the prolonged Anglo-American occupation).92
We shall concentrate our attention on those areas of central European Russia which had been under direct Soviet con-
trol for at least six months prior to March 1919. It should be mentioned that much of the peripheral area excluded
had also been under direct Soviet control during that period.93 The first area to be discussed is that of the Kama,
Vyatka, and Lower Volga River region. In the province of Perm," the town of Izhevsk had, as of March 1920,
copies of only eight stamps: the 1 k. and 15 k. imperf. and the 2 k., 3 k., 5 k., 10 k., and 20 k. perforated; the
town of Kambarka had only the 20 k. perf.; Krasnoe had a stock of the 1 k. imperf. and the 10 k. perf.; Nad-
ezhdinskii Zavod had some 5 k. perforated stamps. In the provinces of Vyatka, Kazan, Simirsk, and Penza,9" we
find the following: Bashmakov had a 10 k. perf. which was overprinted 25 r.; Batraki's postmaster wrote 1 r. on
copies of the 1 k. perf. and imperf. which he had in stock; in Kozmodemyansk there were copies of the 1 k., 2 k.,
3 k., and 15 k. imperf. and the 2 k., 3 k., and 10 k. perforated stamps; in Nolinsk, which had a long tradition of
using Zemstvo stamps for local mail, the I k., 2 k., 3 k., 5 k., 10 k., 15 k., and 20 k. perforated stamps were available
but only the I k. imperforated stamp was in stock: in Novo-Troitskoe the only stamps in the post office seems to
have been a few sheets of the 15 k. perforated; in Spassk, which shared its few stamps with Spasskii-Zaton, Tri
Ozera, and Yukhmachi, the 5 k., 10 k., and 15 k. perforated stamps were handprinted in violet, or red, or black
ink and sold to the public; only the 5 k. perf. was to be found in the post office at Sobakino.
Turning to the area around Moscow, we find that there were acute shortages in the provinces of Tula, Tver, Vladimir,
and Moscow." The town of Goritsa, which shared its stamps with Krasnoe, had only the I k. and 2 k. values; in
Khomutovo there was only the 1 k. imperf.; Klin, which shared postage with Doroshevo, Borshchevo etc., had the
1 k., 2 k., 3 k., and 20 k. imperf. values, and the 2 k., 3 k., 5 k., 10 k., and 20 k. perforated stamps; Kovrov had
quantities of all the perforated stamps up to the 15 k. value with the exception of the 14 k. stamp, but only the
first four values of the imperforated set; Rameshki, however, had only the 3 k. imperf. in its post office; Rzhava,
which shared its supply of stamps with Ikonki and Tsarevo and other points had the 1 k., and 3 k. imperf., and the
2 k., 4 k., 5 k., and 15 k. perforated stamps; Tver, a major city, seems to have had no stamps for a period and was
forced to overprint tax stamps; Venev, which shared stamps with Kholtobino, Vasil'evskoe and other places had the
1 k. imperf. and the 2 k., 3 k., 4 k., 5 k., 10 k., 15 k., and 20 k. perforated variety; the hamlet of Vysokovo-
Nekrasino had only the 5 k. and 20 k. perforated stamps; Zamytye and Zastolb'e shared overprinted sheets of the
3 k. imperf. and the 2 k. 10 k., and 15 k. perforated stamps. Turning to the provinces of Vologda, Yaroslav, and
Kostroma,97 which are north of Moscow, we find that the town of Danilov had the 1 k., and 2 k. imperf., and the
3 k., 4 k., 10 k., and 15 k. perf., and the 1 k. postal savings stamp which it shared with the towns of Yasnino,
Vakhtino and Gorinskoe; Kostroma, a provincial capital, had only the 2 k. and 5 k. perf., and the 3 k. imperf.; the
hamlet of Solovetskoe had the 2 k., 4 k., and 15 k. perforated, and the 1 k. imperforate stamps.
In order to demonstrate that the lack of stamps was not caused by military actions during the civil war, we will
compare the availability of stamps in the border government of Olonets," with the availability of stamps in the
province of Nizhnii Novgorod," east of Moscow, which was seldom faced with military operations. Before we
proceed, however, a word of warning: there is, to my knowledge, no list of towns which used the rubber hand-
stamp indicating payment of postage without stamps. Some post offices we know did not have a stamp and the
postmaster wrote on the envelope that the fee had been collected. To prevent fraud, the postmaster placed on the
stampless envelope his official seal. Only when we have collected stampless envelopes can we accurately depict all
towns without stamps. In discussing the various local issues we have mentioned that a town shared its stamps with
another town. The only way we know this is by finding an enveloped postmarked in Koltobino which has the
peculiar overprint used in Venev affixed to it. Furthermore, we cannot state how many hamlets in Russia were
supplied with stamps by philatelists. The appearance of the 1889 series on letters used during the civil war would
indicate that some collectors were using stamps which they no longer considered to be of value. The only tools
which we have are the stamps and the envelopes. When a local postmaster overprinted stamps he did so because he
had no choice. If he had stocks of ruble values, he would not have to overprint the kopek values. If the postmaster
received new stocks of stamps from Petrograd he would not have to overprint the stamps because he had been
authorized to sell those stamps at one hundred times face. Postmasters overprinted stamps because they had no
ruble values and they had not received a new supply from Petrograd. It is then, with this in mind, that we examine
the issues in the governments of Olonets and Nizhnii-Novgorod.
In the exposed frontier province, the town of IIl'inskii-Pogost had only a 5 k. perforated stamp; Kargopol',
Arkhangelskii-Pogost, and Kenozero shared a supply of 1 k., 2 k., 3 k., 4 k., 15 k., and 20 k. perforated, and 1 k.
and 3 k. imperforated stamps; the postmaster of Lodeinoe Pole handwrote the word ruble on his stock of 1 k., 2 k.,
4 k., 5 k., 10 k., 15 k., and 20 k. perforated, and 3 k. and 5 k. imperf. stamps; at Titovsk, the postmaster over-
printed his stock of 1 k., 4 k., 5 k., 10 k., and 25 k. perforated stamps (the overprinting of the 25 k. stamp was
both unusual and illegal since the Soviet authorities had declared that only the values up to 20 k. were to be sold
at one hundred times face); Zaostrov'e had the 1 k., 2 k., and 3 k. imperf. and the 5 k., 10 k., and 20 k. perfor-
ated stamps. Thus, in a province which had been under Finnish occupation, it would seem that, while some post
offices did not receive the new printings of the Arms issue, most post offices, with the glaring exception of IIl'inskii-
Pogost, had an adequate supply of the previous issues to maintain normal postal service.
What of Nizhnii-Novgorod where there was no enemy occupation? The town of Fokino had only the 1 k. and 3 k.
imperf., and the 4 k. perf. stamps; Kitovo had only the 5 k. perf. stamp; Knyaginin had only the 3 k. perforated
stamp; Krestsy had the 5 k. imperf.; Lichadeevo was fortunate in that it had a stock of all the values below 25 k.
with the exception of the 14 k.; Molchanov and its neighboring hamlets of Kokino, Zverevo, Gagino, Sergach and
others shared sheets of the 2 k., 3 k., 4 k., 5 k., 10 k., 15 k., and 20 k. perf. and the 3 k. imperforated stamps;
Pestovo, however, had only the 3 k. imperf.; Semenov and its neighboring community of Bolovanie had the same
values as found in Molchanov plus the 1 k. and 2 k. imperf., and the 10 k. postal savings stamp; Utkino, however,
had only the 2 k. perforated stamp, while Voskressenskoe had only the perforated 20 k. stamp. Thus, in a province
far from the scene of military operations, there are several towns with only a single type of stamp in the post
office. The shortage had nothing to do with the war; the shortage was caused by the inability of the central
government to get stamps to the area. As we shall see later, Nizhnii-Novgorod suffered from periodic stamp famines
during the years after 1921.
When one locates on a map the towns using local stamps, one notices that, while.there are isolated constellations of
cities in Yakutsk oblast, or Perm Province, the real stamp famine was experienced in an area within a 450 mile radius
of Moscow, that is, within the most developed and most populous part of the Soviet state. The problem facing the
Soviet government was not getting stamps to towns ravaged by war, but rather, establishing lines of communication
between the metropolitan centers of Moscow and Petrograd, and the rural communities.
Letters and money orders sent from these communities clearly demonstrates that the overprints were the only
stamps available. As of April 15, 1920, for example, there were no ruble stamps in Goritsa (Tver Prov.). In order
to pay for a letter with a charge of 7 rubles, the postmaster handstamped "Rub." on one 1 k. imperf. and three 2 k.
perforated stamps. On May 3, 1920, a money receipt from Rogachev (Mogilev Gov.) was affixed with four 10 k.,
two 1 k., and one each 3 k. and 5 k. stamps overprinted "Rub." On June 2, 1920 the postmaster at Semenov
(Nizhnii Novgorod Prov.) either had exhausted his supply of 20 k. stamps or preferred not to use them. In any
event a charge of 200 rubles was paid by handstamping four 10 k., ten 1 k., and ten 15 k. stamps with the word
ruble. At Katkumy, also in Nizhnii Novgorod Province, the fee for a money order was paid with four overprinted
10 k. postal savings stamps. On September 4, 1920, the postmaster at Glazunovka was in such a hurry that he over-
printed Rub on only five of the eight 5 k. stamps affixed to a money order.100
There is no doubt that this was a confused period, but it is also true that the Soviet government did have stocks of
stamps in Moscow and Petrograd. In fact, with the establishment of the Armenian Soviet Republic on December 2,
1920, large quantities of perforated and imperforate stamps, including copies of the obsolete 7 k. and 14 k. values,
were shipped to Erivan for overprinting with the Armenian symbol.'01 Apparently there was no problem in shipping
the stamps to far off Armenia, the problem was in distributing the stamps to local communities in the heart of
Many postal clerks must have been confused by the philatelic anarchy wherein a 5 k. stamp and a 5 r. stamp were
both worth 5 rubles, but a 50 k. stamps was only worth 50 kopecks. Furthermore, clerks were confused as to
what was legitimate postage since local postmasters were writing ruble on all sorts of stamps. To add to the con-
fusion, Red Army commanders, having captured a White held town, would either use the local stamps issued by the
White authorities, or send the stamps to Moscow where they were placed on sale along with other stamps.'03 Some
Red Army commanders, such as the individual who commanded one sector of the front facing the retreating Polish
army, would use foreign stamps which had been overprinted "RSFSR/10 r." as regular postage.'" By the spring of
1921, almost anything stuck on an envelope was accepted as legal postage.
The All Russian Executive Committee had to make an important decision in the spring of 1921. Since it was agreed
that the philatelic anarchy was no longer tolerable, the Committee had one of two choices: abolish all postal charges
and thus do away with stamps, or reestablish postal fees and print a set of Soviet stamps.
There was considerable support for the abolition of all postal charges.'" Some of the members of the Executive
Committee undoubtedly still had a sentimental attachment to the idea of abolishing all fees for governmental ser-
vice, but the reason advanced to support the proposition was that there was a chronic paper shortage and all paper
had to be used for the manufacture of money. Soviet printers had tried to save paper in producing the Tsarist
Arms issue. The stamps were being printed from plates where each cliche had been pushed closer together; when
the stamps came off the press, the unprinted margins were trimmed and the trimmings used to print other stamps,
which explains how some stamps appeared with watermarks even though they should not have the edges of the
postal paper had a watermark. Despite all the economy in the State Printing Plant, there was still a paper shortage.
If all postal fees were abolished, it was argued, not only would there be a saving of paper, but the Printing Plant
coult turn its presses over to the printing of currency.
The serious nature of both the paper and currency shortage notwithstanding, it was decided to abolish free postage.
In part, the reason for the action was the uncontrollableness of the inflation. It seems that the authorities origin-
ally had looked upon the inflation as an easy way to destroy the upper and middle class and thus cut the ground
from underneath those which wished to give financial aid to the various counterrevolutionary forces. By June 1921,
however, with 2.1 trillion rubles in circulation, and the value of the ruble having fallen to 23,000 to the dollar, that
end had been accomplished. The Soviet government, however, was in serious financial troubles as a result of the
inflation. With expenditures being six times income,'" the government had to increase its income. In order for the
Soviet government to exist, the financial anarchy had to be stopped. A return to sound fiscal policy demanded in-
come from the postal service. In an attempt to end both the philatelic anarchy and the inflation, the government
announced that it would both print a new set of Soviet stamps and charge a reasonable fee for postal service.
Having made the decision to issue stamps, the question of design had to be settled. A contest was held and three
designs submitted by V. Kupriyanov and one design suggested by P. Ksidias were accepted.17 Mr. Kupriyanov's
design depicted symbols of agriculture and industry (Scott, 177-180), while Mr. Ksidias' beautifully engraved stamp
depicted a worker slaying the capitalist dragon (Scott, 187) some thought that this latter stamp was executed in
retaliation for a Latvian stamp (Scott, 64-67) which showed "Latvia" slaying the Russian dragon.10 Before these
issues were released, there was considerable speculation in Western Europe as to the designs of the first Soviet issue.
Gossip had it that the Soviets planned to reissue the old Romanov 1913 issue replacing the pictures of the various
Tsars with those of Lenin, Marx, and Trotskii.1'" Somehow the design of a 100 r. stamp showing Revolution as a
female, which had been considered by the Soviet authorities, was also circulated in the West. The stamp was never
released by the government, but printer's proofs soon became available to Western collectors.'10
The first Soviet issue, which comprised a 1 r., 2 r., 5 r., 20 r. and 40 r. stamp, paid no attention to postal rates.
The first two stamps were not used for postage, but were needed to make up the 8 r. rate. The lack of an 8 r. and
10 r. stamps forced citizens to use two or three stamps to pay postage on foreign postcards and domestic registered
letters. Even with this first issue, we see a problem which was to plague postal authorities until the reform of 1924:
there are no stamps issued to meet specific postal needs.
The stamps were placed on sale in Moscow, Petrograd, and Kharkov on August 10, 1921. The stamps, however, were
never distributed to local post office because on August 15, the government announced new and higher rates. The
printing of the first issue was sizeable, but because of the change in rates, only a fraction of the stamps was sold."'
1 r. 1,593,900 399,400
2 r. 1,582,300 398,450
5 r. 1,708,330 543,300
20 r. 1,390,160 289,760
40 r. 3,344,930 174,980
From the figures given for printing and the number sold it would seem that the Soviets had expected most of the
stamps to be used for foreign postage, while in reality most of the stamps were purchased to pay the postage on
Despite the large sale of this issue, few copies were actually used during the first week of its availability. The
stamps were not only oversized, but imperforate. Even in Moscow, the postmasters seem to have preferred using
the old Arms set rather than the new Soviet issue: a letter sent from Moscow to Dresden, for example, on August
13, 1921, used four 5 k. Arms stamps rather than the new 20 r. Soviet issue."2
The 1 r., 2 r., and 5 r. stamps were printed on ordinary paper in large sheets of three hundred stamps; the sheets
were subdivided into twelve panes of twenty-five. Because of the low value of these stamps, they were sold by the
pane rather than by the stamp. The 20 r. stamp was printed on both regular and pelure paper (cigarette paper) in
sheets of forty-two panes of twenty. The 40 r. stamp appeared in two sizes 37.5 x 23.5 mm, and 38.5 x 23.25 mm.
The stamp was printed on watermarked sheets of one pane of fifty stamps.113 The printing on all the stamps was
fairly good even though one finds several printing errors such as folded paper, double impressions, indiscriminate
position of the watermark, and uneven inking of the plates. The color range of the stamps is slight, but all stamps
do appear in shades of their original color.114
What is significant for our study is the fact that, even though it was known that some communities were virtually
without stamps,"1 the new issue was first sent to Moscow, Petrograd, and Kharkov. Furthermore, in the four days
between issuance and recall, the stamps were not dispatched to local centers.
The new Soviet rates were unrealistically low. A domestic postcard cost 100 rubles (%/4): a local letter cost 100
rubles for each 2 oz. or fraction thereof; an intercity letter was charged 250 rubles (14) for each 15 grams or frac-
tion thereof, while registration cost an additional 1000 rubles (41/24). A foreign postcard was charged 400 rubles
(24); letters were charged 1000 rubles per 20 grams or fraction thereof, while registration was another 1000 rubles."6
Domestic rates remained constant until February 1, 1922, but the continual collapse of the ruble"7 forced a hike in
foreign postage on November 21, 1921.1"8 According to the new rates a postcard would cost 2000 rubles (4/24), an
ordinary letter of 20 grams would cost 5000 rubles (104) and registration would cost an additional 5000 rubles.
The new rates created a serious problem: post offices did not have stamps of sufficient face value to facilitate
mailing. The first issue, with its high value of 40 r. had not reached local communities whose highest face value
stamp was the 20 k. Arms issue which was being sold for 20 rubles. The Soviets had to get stamps to the post
offices, but there were more pressing problems facing the Soviet government. Since expenditures were still out-
stripping income by a ratio of six to one, the government printing plants in Moscow, Petrograd, Perm, Rostov, and
Penza were working overtime to print money."9
Only on August 25, 1921, ten days after the introduction of the new rates did the 100 r., 250 r., and 1000 r.
lithographed imperforate stamps appear. The stamps were printed on large sheets of fifty. Supplies, however, soon
ran out. On September 15, a new printing was ordered, but instead of being issued in sheets of fifty, the stamps
were printed in sheets of 100 divided into four panes of twenty-five. Three new values were also added to the set:
200 r., 300 r., and 500 r. On October 20, the 100 r., 250 r., 300 r., and 1000 r. were reprinted on pelure paper.
At a later date (we do not know exactly when), the 250 r. and 1000 r. were reprinted on glazed chalk paper. Still
later, the 1000 r. received its fifth printing, this time on cheap, thick, porous cotton paper of inferior quality the
ink bled through to the gummed side.'2' The total printing was rather large: 100 r., 44,391,900 copies; 200 r.,
4,000,000 copies; 250 r., 78,927,150 copies; 300 r., 3,000,000 copies; 500 r., 1,071,900 copies; and the 1000 r.
53,869,950 copies.'1 These figures, however, are difficult to interpret. We know, for example, that twenty
million 250 r. stamps were overprinted 7500 r., nineteen million 250 r. stamps were overprinted 100,000 r., a
quarter of a million 250 r. stamps were used in May 1923 for a charity overprint, while an undisclosed number of
250 r. stamps were overprinted in the Ukraine and in Smolensk, and overprinted for tax purposes by the Soviet
Government in 1928. We have, therefore, accounted for over thirty-nine million 250 r. stamps. Does this mean
that only 39,000,000 250 r. stamps were sold as 250 r. and the rest overprinted, or should we add the number of
overprinted stamps to the figure 78,927,150? Whether we add or subtract the numbers, the fact remains that the
printing was large. But how quickly did these stamps reach local post offices?
We have stated that there was a ten-day lapse between the announcement of the new rate in Moscow, and the first
appearance of the 250 r. stamp. What happened during that period? The central government declared that any
Tsarist postal savings stamp, banking stamp, control stamp, or tax stamp, no matter what its face, was valid for
250 rubles.'1 Most post offices, it would seem, had a sufficient quantity of revenue stamps of one type or another
to provide normal service, but some postmasters, for various reasons, had to create stamps. The reasons for the
local issues seem to fall into three categories: one, a lack of sufficient tax stamps at the post office;'1 two, for
some unknown reason, the postmaster felt obliged to overprint tax stamps;'1 three, the post office lacked the
100 r. value.126
There is no pattern in the towns where one finds the overprints. Akhtyrka (Kharkov Gov.), the city of Minsk, the
towns of Vol'sk, Klyuchi and Vyazovka in Perm government, Ostashkov (Tver Gov.) and Sebezh (Vitebsk Gov.) fall
into the first group. Andizhan (Fergana Obl.), the cities of Ekaterinoslav and Perm, the towns of Yur'ev-Polskii
(Vladimir Gov.), Lebedyan (Tambov Gov.), Sulyuktinskie Kopy (Samarkand Obl.), and Tamala (Saratov) are in the
second group. Two of the three towns which overprinted stamps with values lower than 250 r. present a problem.
We do not know the exact date that Bashmakov (Penza) and Firovo (Novgorod Prov.) overprinted stamps 25 r. It
is possible that the overprints were applied before August 15 to meet needs other than postal that is, to pay for
money transfers. It is also possible that these 25 r. stamps were sold for 250 r. The last town in the third group,
Vol'sk presents no problem, because it had overprinted a stamp "100 r." at the same time that the "250 r." stamp
The only area where one finds a continuous shortage of stamps during 1920-1921 was Perm province. The other
areas which had been forced to create stamps in 1920 seem to have had a sufficient number of revenue stamps to
supply the needs of their consumers.
In examining envelopes sent through the mails during the first month of the new rate, we notice a number of strange
things, the strangest being that many local postmasters charged 250 rubles and not 1000 rubles for a foreign
letter.27 On August 18, 1921 two registered letters were sent from Minsk, one went to Vienna, the other to
Berlin. In both examples there are five 2 k. perforated stamps on which the postmaster had written in red ink
"250 R." Since both domestic and foreign registration was 1000 rubles, we may assume that four of the five
stamps went to pay for the registration, leaving only one 250 r. stamp to pay for the postage. On August 22, 1921
an interesting envelope was mailed in Kiev, destined for New York City. In the first place, the envelope is hand-
made from scrap printed paper. Secondly, the only stamp on the envelope is a 20 k. perforated Arms stamp, but
there is a handstamped notice to the effect that the sum of 1230 rubles had been paid in cash. Third, the letter is
short 750 rubles. A letter from Bobruisk (Minsk Prov.) to New York, mailed and registered on August 26, 1921
has five 2 k. overprinted stamps. It is obvious, therefore, that in some post offices the rate for a foreign letter was
250 rubles and not 1000 rubles as directed by Moscow. The "errors" cannot be errors because each of the letters
had to be personally handled by the postmaster, who either handwrote the 250 R on the 2 k. stamps, or who hand-
stamped the sign on the envelope with only a 20 k. stamp. It is also obvious from the envelopes that at the date of
mailing, the local post offices had no 250 r. stamps, which were not released until August 25.
Examining envelopes mailed during September, one finds proof of existing confusion and shortages.1' A registered
letter from Kharkov to Petrograd on September 19 contains only two postal savings stamps and is, therefore, short
750 rubles in postage. Another registered letter mailed in Kharkov on September 29 and destined for Tallinn,
Estonia, has four 25 k. Arms stamps affixed and is, therefore, short either 1000 rubles, or 1,999 rubles since the
25 k. Arms stamp had never legally been sold for 250 rubles.
Even though one still finds confusion and shortages during October, it would seem that most post offices were re-
ceiving shipments of the new stamps, and that most postmasters had been informed of the new postal rates.'"
There is a possibility that, given a choice between using the perforated tax stamps or control stamps and the new
imperforate Soviet stamps which had to be cut by scissors, knife, or razor blade, the local postmaster would use the
older stamps until they were exhausted. We do know, for example, that postmasters in Rostov, Abakan, and Odessa,
annoyed with the Soviet issue, attempted to have the Soviet stamps perforated locally.'1 In any event, one does
find various tax stamps used in the larger cities like Petrograd, Sevastopol', Tver, and Vyazma even though the new
Soviet stamps were available at the time.
There is little doubt that the Soviet government was aware of the stamp shortages; they were working overtime to
produce as many stamps as possible. The result of the speed was that this third Soviet issue is, without question,
the sloppiest of all Soviet issues. Every possible error which can be made with a simple monochromed imperforated
lithographed stamp is found. There was, for example, little attempt at color control. The 100 r. yellow, therefore,
appears not only in yellow but also in orange, olive, and brown. Each of these major colors, however, appears in a
variety of shades. The yellow ranges from light lemon to orange-yellow; the orange goes from yellow-orange to
red-orange; the olive and brown stamps also appear in shades. On some stamps, especially those printed on pelure
paper, the print is so faint that it is hardly visible; on others it is so heavy that all one sees is a blob of color. On
many sheets there is uneven inking. The paper, furthermore, was fed into the machine without care. It is normal to
find stamps with partial prints because the paper went into the press folded so that part of the print appeared on
the gummed side. Crumbled paper was used with the result that stamps appeared with inkless lines on their face.
Double prints, triple prints, smeared prints, and even double prints with one of the prints being inverted are
On November 5, 1921, the Soviets released three stamps (100 r., 250 r., and 1000 r.), designed by Kunno Goppe,
to commemorate the fourth anniversary of the revolution. Actually four stamps had been printed, but the authori-
ties realized that the 200 r. stamp would serve no purpose and put them in a cabinet where they remained hidden
until 1927. The printing was small (3,000,000 of each of the released stamps we are not sure how many 200 r.
stamps were printed, but they are quite expensive)'32 and one finds few errors. The stamps were almost immediately
available in Moscow, but they do not appear on provincial letters until early 1922.
There seems to be no question that during this period there was a growing communications problem. The mails
were no longer as efficient as they were either before the October/November Revolution, or even during the period
of the civil war. By examining registered letters it would seem that it took far longer for a letter to reach its des-
tination than it did during the Tsarist or Duma periods. It took fifteen days for a letter to go from Rostov to
Moscow, and seven days to go from Kharkov to Petrograd, instead of three to five days. In the prewar period a
letter could go from Petrograd to Tartu (Estonia) in two or three days depending upon the movement of trains, but
in 1921 it took a week. A letter from Moscow to Zurich or Dresden took fifteen or twenty days, instead of seven
to ten days, while a letter from Minsk or Kiev to New York City required sixty days instead of twenty-one days.
To some extent the delays were caused by censorship, other delays were caused by the inability of the mails to
leave Russia, but the major cause seems to have been the breakdown in the rail network leading to Moscow. What-
ever the cause of the delay, the French government felt that it had to warn its citizens that it could no longer
guarantee that letters addressed to individuals in Russia would reach their destination.'33
On December 31, 1921 Soviet authorities released a set of semi-postal stamps (Scott, B14-B17) designed by
N. Razumovskaya-Shemurina and I. Kachuro. Each of the four stamps in the set had a face value of 2250 r., but
only 250 r. went for postage, the balance to be used to aid the victims of the Volga flood.'34 The issue was not
large: 66,000 copies of the blue stamp showing a soldier aiding a victim were printed; the other stamps, all de-
picting relief work along the Volga, were in green (189,700 copies), brown (154,260 copies), and red (437,250
copies).'" It appears that this issue was not ordered by the Soviet government, but prepared by the workers in the
State Printing Office in their spare time. The Soviet government, still embarrassed by the "Odessa Hunger Relief
Issue,"'36 was worried about the philatelic reception of this issue. After some discussion, it was decided to
legalize the issue, which would continue to be printed in the workers' spare time. Since the government refused to
supply paper for the stamps, the issue was printed on the trimmings from older issues, and even on top of older
stamps.'37 In February the government released its own Volga Famine Relief Issue, but we will discuss that set in
its proper place.
In examining envelopes used during December and January one generally finds both correct postage and the use of
regular Soviet stamps. Only in smaller communities does one find any indication of stamp shortages. A registered
letter from Losinoostrovskaya (Moscow Gov.) to Moscow, mailed on December 3, 1921, for example, used five
postal savings stamps, while a local registered letter in Tsaritsyn, mailed on January 21, 1922 used five 10 r. control
stamps. Even in Petrograd there were occasional shortages: a money transfer card mailed to Yaroslavl' on December
15, 1921 used twenty-two 1000 r. stamps and two control stamps.'"
On February 1, 1922 new domestic rates were established; three weeks later foreign rates were also raised. During
the five months of the old rate the Soviet printing presses had turned out another fifteen trillion rubles in paper,'"
and the value of the ruble had fallen to 300,000 to the dollar. The government, realizing the impossibility of deal-
ing with such inflated numbers, had decreed, on November 5, 1921,40 that budgetary figures should be drawn in
terms of the prewar gold ruble and that, each month, the Commissariat of Finance should publish the rate of ex-
change between the prewar and the current rubles. As of February 1, 1922, the rate was set at 1 to 150,000.
The new rates took this gold ruble policy into consideration. The gold ruble rates were as follows: domestic post-
card 2 k. (3,000 r.); local letter per each 50 grams or fraction thereof, 3 k. (4,500 r.); intercity letters per each 15
grams or fraction thereof, 5 k. (7,500 r.); registration, 10 k. (15,000 r.). The external rates, as of February 22, 1922,
were: postcard, 4 k. (6,000 r.); letter per each 15 grams or fraction thereof, 10 k., and registration 10 k.'41 Thus
it was that between the establishment of the new domestic rates on February 1, and the new foreign rates on
February 22, foreign postage was much cheaper than domestic.
Having established the new rates, the Soviets released their Volga Famine Issue (Scott, B18-B23), which was based
upon the old postage rates. This issue took the 70 k. chain-cutter stamp and overprinted it 100 r. + 100 r. in black
(250,000 copies), red (250,000), and blue (1,500,000); the 35 k. stamp of the same issue was overprinted 250 r. +
250 r. in orange (250,000 copies), red (250,000) and black (7,298,900).12 The almost eight million 250 r. stamps
would have served a useful purpose had they been released in December or January, but in February they were
useless since a minimum of 12 stamps was needed to pay the postage on an ordinary postal card.
With the rapid rise in postal rates, the Soviets were faced with the problem of what to do with millions of low value
stamps, and a shortage of high value stamps. The simple solution was found: the 1 r., 2 r., 5 r., and 20 r. stamps
would be surcharged 5000 r., while the 40 r. stamp would be surcharged 10,000 r. (Scott, 191-200).'"
Did these overprints reach the local post offices in time? Apparently not. In Moscow on February 2, 1922, in Kiev
on February 12 and 13, in Odessa on February 7, and in Tashkent on February 16, the 10,000 ruble rate was made
by using ten 1000 r. stamps; in Vinnitsa on February 2, and Odessa on February 15, the correct postage was applied
by using forty 250 r. stamps. In examining various covers mailed during this period one finds various oddities. A
registered letter from Testovo (Pskov Prov.) to Vienna, for example, mailed on February 3 and arriving on March 21,
contained fourteen 25 k. control stamps, i.e., 3500 r., or short 6,500 r. Did the postmaster collect the cash for the
correct rate without noting it on the envelope? A registered postcard left Odessa on February 13 and arrived in
Berlin on March 5. It has seven 100 r. stamps; it should have had seven 1000 r. stamps. Did the postmaster sell
the 100 r. stamp for 1000 rubles? On February 20, a postcard left Ulibovka for Petrograd with three perforate 1 r.
Arms issue which had been overprinted "0100" (similar to the overprint used in Tamala). Did the postmaster at
Ulibovka charge 1000 rubles for each of these overprinted stamps?'"
The authorities seemed unable to plan ahead to extricate themselves. They continued to issue stamps for postal rates
that were out of date, thus forcing citizens to use many stamps on an envelope and increasing the paper shortage.
On March 1, 1922, the Commissariat of Finance announced that the ratio between the prewar ruble and the exist-
ing ruble would be 1 to 200,000,'" which meant that eventually the 5 gold kopeck rate would be increased from
7,500 rubles to 10,000 rubles. The Printing Office, however, decided to overprint twenty million 250 r. stamps
"7,500 r."16 and to issue 8,463,400 new 7,500 r. stamps along with three million 22,500 r. stamps.'" The latter
stamp also designed by Reindorf, was supposed to pay the postage on a registered letter. By the time these stamps
were sent to the post office they were useless.
There is another bit of irrationality in the Soviet postal emissions. The Soviets, legitimately, were complaining about
the paper shortage, but, whereas the Arms kopeck values measure 15.5 x 21 mm., and the ruble values measure
between 25.5 x 29 mm. and 26.5 x 31 mm., the Soviet stamps were 25 x 30 mm., 39 x 23.5 mm., 27 x 37.5 mm.,
and 55.5 x 34.5 mm. If there was a shortage of paper, one does not increase the size of the stamps, which only
adds to that shortage. It would seem, however, that no one talked to the designers about the paper shortage. In
fact, no one seemed to be talking to anyone. Certainly the people in the Finance Department, who were raising the
postal rates, never communicated with the individuals responsible for planning the face value of new stamps.
Having decided to issue thirty-one million 7,500 r. and 22,500 r. stamps, did the postal authorities distribute the
stamps quickly? Apparently not. In Kiev the postmaster, using a metallic die, overprinted the 5 k. postal savings
stamp "7,500 r.," and the 10 k. postal savings stamp, "15,000 r." In Svyatoshino (Kiev Prov.) the 7,500 r. over-
print on the 5 k. postal savings stamp was made with a woodblock. In Vyazma and Smolensk, the 250 r. was
locally overprinted "7,500 r.," while postmasters in Minsk and Fort Aleksandrovsk (on the east shore of the Caspian
Sea) fared as best they could.1' A letter posted in Voronezh on March 3, and arriving in Akron, Ohio on April 15,
used two 7,500 r. stamps in conjunction with fifteen 1000 r. stamps. A letter was mailed in Saratov on March 4,
without any stamps; just a notice that the sum of 45,000 rubles had been collected. While most letters posted in
Moscow and Petrograd indicate a supply of the higher values, a letter left Petrograd on March 7, for Cairo, with
fifty-five 1000 r. stamps attached. The way things were going, there was more paper being used by the stamps on
the envelope, then by the envelope itself.
On April 1, 1922, postage rates were again raised. Again the cause was the uncontrolled inflation. Between
February 1, and April 1, 1922, the government had printed 50.6 trillion rubles, i.e., each month the government was
printing more rubles than the sum total of rubles in circulation the month before.149 The spiral had become so hectic
that on March 30, 1922, the government had been forced to abandon its rate of exchange index and use the pur-
chasing price of gold as an index. There was no question in the minds of the Soviet leaders that in order to stabilize
Russia, the currency had to be stabilized."1
The domestic rates of April 1, lasted fifteen days; foreign rates raised on April 1, were again raised of April 30, 1922.
The domestic rates were: postcard first 4000 rubles, then 20,000 rubles; local letter first 6000 rubles, then 30,000
rubles for each 50 grams or fraction thereof; intercity rates went from 10,000 rubles to 50,000 rubles for each 15
grams or fraction thereof; registration went from 20,000 rubles to 100,000 rubles. Foreign postage rates were:
postcard first 18,000 rubles, then 120,000 rubles; letters went from 30,000 rubles to 200,000 rubles for each 15
grams; registration was increased from 30,000 rubles to 200,000 rubles.'51
The Soviet response to these new rates was inadequate. In the first place they released a new 5000 r. (506,050
copies) and 10,000 r. (100,000 copies) stemps,'52 which were part of the allegorical set of the previous month, but
which were rather useless after April 15. Second, they attempted to rush copies of the old 200 r. and 300 r. stamps
to the post offices because, since the beginning of March, these stamps had been authorized to be sold for ten times
their face value,'53 but by April 15, these too were useless. Third, after April 15, it was decided to release the two
Volga Relief Issues (Scott, 814-B17, B18-B23), at inflated prices. The first issue, which had a face value of 2250 r.
was to be sold for 22,500 r. with 10,000 rubles being used for postage and 12,500 r. for charity. The second issue,
which had a face value of 100 r. + 100 r., and 250 r. + 250 r., was to be sold for 10,000 r. + 10,000 r., and
25,000 r. + 25,000 r.'54 Finally, it was decided to reprint and release the kopek Arms set at one million times face
value, while the ruble arms set was to be released at ten thousand times face value, i.e., both the 1 k. and the 1 r.
Arms stamps were to be sold for 10,000 rubles.1'
The decision to release the kopek values at one million times face was wise, but it was implemented in a clumsy
fashion. The Soviets reprinted only the monochromed 1 k., 2 k., 3 k., 4 k., 5 k., and 10 k. stamps, and used what-
ever supply of the 7 k., 10 k. on 7 k., and 14 k. stamps which they found in the Printing Office. The highest
theoretical face value, therefore, was 140,000 rubles, but in actuality the highest face value stamp available for mass
distribution was only 100,000 rubles. The excuse offered for not printing the higher value kopeck issues was that
these stamps required two or three steps. But the government did reprint the larger size bicolored ruble values which
also required two or three steps. Had the government reprinted the 15 k., 20 k., 25 k., 35 k., 50 k., and 70 k.,
stamps at the same rate, and sold the ruble values for a million times face, they not only would have reduced the
number of stamps required on an envelope, but they would also have been prepared for future needs. While it
must be admitted that the decision to release the Arms set at one million times face was made prior to April 30, 1922,
rate increase, and therefore stamps with a face value above 140,000 rubles were not needed, stamps with higher face
value were needed on money transfer cards, and on insured parcels. Unfortunately, however, the Soviet postal
authorities attempted to solve the immediate problem, but when the solution was implemented, it was already out of
When the Soviet authorities examined the plates of the Arms issue they were horrified by their condition. There-
fore all the plates were cleaned, repaired and, occasionally, a new cliche inserted or a new plate made. As mentioned,
only the monochromed kopek values were reprinted, but a stock of the 15 k. and 20 k. stamps, both perforated and
imperforated, was found and distributed. The 1 r., 5 r., 7 r., and 10 r. perforated issue with vertical lozenges, and
the 1 r. and 7 r. perforated with horizontal lozenges were also reprinted from reconditioned plates. Only the 3.50 r.
stamp, which would have served little purpose, was not reprinted.'"
One may legitimately ask at this time why the Soviets even bothered to release the Tsarist issue. There is little
doubt that the Soviets did have a trained staff capable of producing new designs and new plates. In fact, Richards
Zarrinp, who had designed the charity set of 1905, the Arms set of 1909-12, part of the Romanov issue of 1913, the
charity set of 1914-1915, and the chain-cutter set of 1917-1918, was available and did design the Soviet charity set
of November 18, 1922.'" Had the Soviets simply continued to use the Tsarist plates until worn out, and then dis-
carded them for their own stamps, we could say that they were too preoccupied to worry about stamps. But the
evidence would not support such a position. Not only did the Soviets continue to print Tsarist stamps after they
had produced their own postal paper, but they actually repaired, retouched, and reformed the old plates, and created
new plates of both the Tsarist and chain-cutter issues.1" Since the Soviets did have the talent to not only issue
their own stamps in 1921 but also to repair and recast the Tsarist and chain-cutter stamps, why did they continue
using the pre-1917 issues? The problem is further confused by the fact that there did exist in the State Printing
Office in Petrograd two sets of plates prepared by Zarrig. One set, the chain-cutter issue, was obviously known to
Soviet postal authorities since the 35 k. and 70 k. stamps of that series had been released. The other set of plates
had been prepared in 1915 to honor the postal service. The seven designs of that set had been rejected by the
Tsarist authorities, however, because the stamps depicted neither the Tsar nor the coat of arms. That the dies were
still available is evidenced by the fact that in 1925 the young Soviet artist, V. Zav'yalov used the frame of one of
the stamps as the design for the Lenin Mausoleum issue (Scott, 294-301).'" In any event, Zarripg and others,
could have easily, and quickly, designed and produced a new set. But for some unknown reason, the Russians pre-
ferred to repair, as best they could, a worn set of plates instead of creating a new issue.
The constantly increasing postal rates during April caught postmasters short despite all the activity at the State
Printing Office. In Kiev the 5 k. postal savings stamp was overprinted "8000 r.;" in Vyatka the 2 k., 3 k., 5 k.,
10 k., 1 r., and 7 r. perforated stamps and the 5 k. and 1 r. imperforated Arms stamps, which were found in stocks,
were overprinted "Vydano" (issued) on two stamps to prevent individuals from using their own stamps; in Petrovsk
(Daghestan) the 5 r. imperf. was overprinted "50 T.," i.e., 50,000 r.1"
When one examines envelopes mailed in April, one notices few examples of the Arms stamp. Even where the Arms
stamp was used, we cannot be positive that it was from the new issue. With some of the stamps, such as the 5 k.
reddish purple, there is no question since that particular shade appeared only in the 1922 printing, but even in 1922
that stamp appeared in both purple-brown, which was the shade first used in 1912, and in deep purple-brown, which
was first used in 1917. If the stamp is on stark white paper it is the 1922 issue, but some of the stamps in 1922
were printed on old stocks of paper. Generally speaking, the evidence would indicate that few of the Arms stamps
were distributed in April.
Mailing a letter during April must have been quite an experience. One had to have considerable patience to stick
the stamps on the envelope, and a facility for addition in order to figure the postage. An insured letter left Pskov
for Riga on April 7, for example, with forty-seven 7500 r. on 250 r. plus one 1 r. stamps affixed for a total of
362,500 rubles. Since the postage and registration on that date was only 60,000 rubles, the insurance must have
been 302,500 rubles. A registered letter left Odessa for Berlin on April 22, 1922 with two regular 7500 r. stamps,
one 22,500 r. stamp, and a control stamp. The postage should have been 60,000 rubles. The three regular stamps
total 37,500 rubles. Did the postmaster sell the control stamp for 22,500 rubles? A simple postcard left Moscow
for Pittsburgh on April 19, 1922, with one regular 5000 r. stamp, plus four control stamps, which would bring the
total postage to 6000 rubles, but on April 19, the postage was 18,000 rubles. Was the postcard mailed before
April 1, when the 6000 ruble rate applied, and only postmarked on the 19th, did the postmaster forget the new
rate, or did he sell the four control stamps for 13,000 rubles? A letter from Rostov to Berlin on April 25, 1922
contains one 2 k. and one 4 k. Arms stamp, plus a 2000 r. semi postal stamp (Scott, B30). The rate was 60,000
rubles, which means that the semi-postal stamp paid no postage. We shall discuss that particular stamp shortly. As
one can see from the above examples, confusion was quite common.'16
The 2000 r. stamp which was just mentioned has a strange history. It was one of four stamps designed by A.L.
Manevich, a philatelist living in Rostov-on-Don, and released on April 19, 1922 by the office of the Commissar of
Finance, Southeast Region. The stamps were placed on sale in Rostov, Novocherkassak, Nakhichevan, and a few
other South Don towns. The stamps were printed on huge sheets of ungummed paper. There were 133 stamps on
each sheet: twenty-seven 2000 r. rose, fifty-four 2000 r. green, twenty-four 4000 r. rose, and twnety-eight 6000 r.
green. In all, 740 such sheets were printed. When word of this issue reached the Central Committee for the Famine
Victims in Moscow, it was decided to halt the sale and distribution of these unauthorized stamps. On May 2, about
520 sheets and parts of sheets were confiscated and sent to Moscow. After much discussion, it was decided to
release the stamps as labels. People who purchased the stamps would still have to pay full postage on their letter,
but they would not have to wait on line.'62
When we examine covers used in May and June, 1922, we still find considerable anarchy. A letter registered in
Vyatskaya (Vyatka Prov.) on May 9, 1922 and destined for Berlin, and a letter registered in Poltava on the same
date, but destined for New York City, contain only 60,000 rubles in postage, which was the April rate, instead of
400,000 rubles, which was the May rate. A letter sent to Switzerland from Yekaterinodar on May 10, 1922 has
three 10 k. on 7 k., and one 2 k. stamp affixed, for a total of 320,000 rubles instead of 400,000 rubles. A letter
posted in Pskov on May, 15, and addressed to Stamereene, Latvia, has fifty 7500 r. on 250 r. and ten regular
500 r. stamps affixed, or 25,000 rubles too much. On May 12, and 19, a sender made the required 400,000 ruble
rate by sticking fifty-two 7500 r. on 250 r. stamps, and ten 10 r. control stamps on small envelopes.63 Without
adding machines, postmasters must have had quite a time figuring the required postage.
Monetary conditions during the spring of 1922 were chaotic. In May and June, the Soviets had issued 190
trillion paper rubles; some parts of the Soviet state even abandoned the use of the ruble altogether. The Soviet
government was facing bankruptcy, and the officials knew it.'64 After much discussion, the government decided to
adopt a theoretical gold standard. On July 25, 1922, it was decreed that the legal money of Russia would be the
chervonets a paper bill equal to ten Tsarist gold rubles, or 119.4792 grains of gold. The government ordered the
printing of notes in units of 10, 25, 50, and 100 chervontsy, but nothing was done about obeying that order until
November 28, 1922.'6
It was because the government planned to ussue gold currency that, when new rates were issued, they were issued
in terms of the gold currency. In reality, the gold currency did not exist, and a peculiar compromise was reached.
Originally the July rates were as follows: a postcard cost 270,000 rubles, a letter cost 450,000 rubles for each 15
grams or fraction thereof, and registration cost another 450,000 rubles. As of August 1, 1922, these rates were
divided by 10,000. The new rates were neither in old rubles nor nonexisting chervontsy, but in Denznak Rubles,
which equalled 10,000 old rubles. Since most Russians still held the "Token Money of 1921" rubles, or the RSFSR
obligations of 1921" notes, the establishment of rates in Denznak rubles (DR.) confused matters. When the new
foreign rates were published on October 25, 1922, they were: postcard, 45 DR.; letter, 75 DR.; registration, 75
DR.; airmail, 75 DR.'" Unfortunately, there were no stamps in Denznak rubles. The only convenient stamps
available were the Arms set. It became almost a game. One purchased a 1 k. Arms stamp for 10,000 rubles and
then used the stamp to pay 1 r. postage the Soviets did not indicate that the new rates were in Denznaks.
Turning to the activity in the post office, one notices that the Arms set, despite the refurbishing of the plates, was
becoming worn.'1 This Tsarist issue, nevertheless, was replacing the standard Soviet stamps. The odd part of this
replacement was that one finds the tricolored 1 r. and 10 r. stamps, which were expensive to produce, more fre-
quently than the small monochromed 1 k. and 10 k. stamps. On the other hand, the 5 k. is more common than
the 5 r. Interestingly, neither the 7 k., which was not reprinted, nor the 7 r., which was reprinted, are common.
Perhaps postmasters, finding it more convenient to work with 5s and 10s, did not bother to use 7s. On covers
where 5s and 10s were used, one usually finds the correct postage, but where large blocks of different stamps were
employed, errors were common. A registered letter left Ivanovo-Voznesensk on July 7, for example, with three
2 k. imperf., four 3 k., imperf., two 1 r. imperf., and five 5 r. perf., for a total of 45 DR. The price should have
been 90 DR. (900,000 rubles). A normal letter left Petrograd for Graz, Austria, on July 21, 1922 with forty
10 k. stamps, two 2 k. stamps, and four 7500 regular stamps for a total of 455,000 old rubles, or 5000 rubles too
much. But who worried about 5000 rubles in July 1922? A normal letter left Ichki (Crimea) for Berlin with
thirty-five 7500 r. regular stamps. The letter was short 187,500 rubles, but perhaps the postmaster could not
multiply. On August 10, a registered letter left Vitebsk for Montreal with twenty-two 4 k. imperf. stamps, and two
imperf. 1 r. stamps to make the correct postage of 90 DR.'" Because the 5s and the 10s were most convenient to
use, most of the examined envelopes of this period contain at least nine stamps. For some reason, nine 5 k. stamps
were easier to figure than four 10 k. stamps and one 5 k. stamps.
On August 19, 1922, the Soviets released their fourth charity set (Scott, B24-B29); the 1 k. perforated and imper-
forate (950 copies), 2 k. perforated (9,100), 3 k. perforated (24,775), 5 k. perforated (23,425), and 10 k. perfo-
rated (19,625) Arms set was overprinted sideways RSFSR/Filateliya/Detyam/19-8-22.'" The stamps, and a special
envelope which contained the RSFSR's coat of arms overprinted on an old Tsarist stamped envelope,17 were on
sale for one day in Moscow; the price was five million times face value, but only twenty percent went for postage,
i.e., 1 k. equalled 50,000 rubles (5 DR.) equalled 10,000 rubles for postage and 40,000 rubles for charity. In
reality, the whole sum went for charity since most of the stamps were not used commercially but were kept and
used by philatelists.
When one turns to covers used during September, one notices almost the same pattern as the previous month.
There are, however, a few novelties: one finds the Arms set with Ukrainian Trident overprints being sold in the
Moscow and Petrograd post offices as regular stamps. It also seems that people are just sticking on stamps without
caring if there was twenty or thirty thousand too much or too little in postage. When, however, one finds a letter
with 300,000 rubles too much, one suspects that the envelope was an insured letter containing money. As in
August, the Arms set, not Soviet issues seemed to dominate the field.17'
On October 11, 1922, after having printed another 377 trillion rubles in August and September, the Soviets an-
nounced that they would implement the decree of July 25, 1922, which called for the establishment of the
chervonets. It was also decreed that the orders of June 28, 1922, and September 28, 1922 recalling the "Token
Money of 1921" and exchanging them for Denznak rubles would be enforced, although, because of the short supply
of the DRS., "Token" notes of 50,000 and 100,000 rubles would be legal until January, 1923. The one, five, and
ten million ruble "RSFSR Obligations" were also recalled, but they too could be used until January, 1923. As of
October 12, 1922, therefore, the Denznak ruble became the official ruble of the RSFSR. Chervontsy were not
as yet released.1'
In light of the planned monetary reform and the continuing inflation, new and higher rates were announced on
October 1, 1922. A domestic postcard cost 5 DR., a local letter was fixed at 5 DR. per 20 grams or fraction there-
of, an ordinary letter was 10 DR. per 20 grams or fraction thereof, while registration was another 15 DR.73
On October 25, as mentioned, external rates were also increased.'74 Since there were no Soviet stamps of sufficient
face value to pay these rates, the only postage available at the post office was the Tsarist Arms issue.
On November 1, 1922, domestic and foreign postal rates were again increased. A domestic postcard cost 10 DR., a local
letter 10 DR., a regular letter 20 DR., and registration 30 DR.; a foreign postcard cost 90 DR., a letter 150 DR., registra-
tion and airmail were each set at an additional 150 DR.'75 The increased rates were again caused by inflation: in October
the Soviets had printed 24 billion DR., or 244 trillion old rubles.
The Soviets once again were faced with a stamp famine. In theory the highest face value stamp at the post office was the
14 k. Arms issue which sold for 14 DR., but, since this stamp was never reprinted, the only copies available were from
the remnants of the 1912-1917 printing. Some post offices had copies of the 15 k., 20 k., and 25 k., which were neither
reprinted at this time nor authorized, but which were sold for 15 DR., 20 DR., and 25 DR. In practice, however, the
highest face value stamp at most post offices was either the 10 k. or the 10 r. Arms stamp which sold for 10 DR. The
plates of these stamps were becoming so worn, that they would soon have to be discarded. Before the October monetary
reform, the Soviets had prepared ninteen million copies of the 250 r. stamp overprinted "100,000 r.," but had not re-
leased the stamp because of the establishment of the Denznak rate. In order to reduce the strain on the overworked Arms
issue, this stamp was now released and sold for 10 DR. Some towns, however, were in desperate need of stamps. In
Serafimo-Diveerskoe (Nizhnii Novgorod Prov.), the postmaster over-printed 2,500 copies of the 100 r. stamp, "100,000 r."
in purple. In the city of Nizhnii Novgorod, which seems to have had a constant shortage of stamps since 1920, an adven-
turous individual forged 100,000 r. overprints which actually were used on letters.'76
During October the Soviets prepared three new issues with face value in terms of Denznak rubles. The first released was a
semi-postal set (Scott, B34-B37), which reached post office counters on November 3. The stamps were unusual in that
they had no face value printed on them, but were sold for 25 DR.; 20 DR. going for postage, and 5 DR. for charity.'7
As of the date of issue, these stamps had the highest face value in the post office, but their use was rather limited because
they could not be used on external mail. The second set (Scott, 211-215), commemmorated the fifth anniversary of the
October/November Revolution. While the stamps did have higher face value than previous issues, most of the stamps were
prepared in terms of the October rates. The face values were: 5 DR. (5,225,000 copies), 10 DR. (14,900,000), 25 DR.
(2,925,000), 27 DR. (500,000), and 45 DR. (1,000,000 copies).'78 While the 25 DR. stamp helped relieve some of the
shortages at the post offices, the 5 DR., 27 DR., and 45 DR. stamps were either useless or too difficult to use. The third
set prepared and released was 100,000 copies of a single value airmail stamp with a face value of 45 DR., which was also
rather useless since the airmail rate was 150 DR.'79
When one examines covers used during this period, one is continually struck by the difficulties of figuring the postage. A
registered letter from Vologda to Kiev on November 2, for example, used two 14 k., three 1 r. (two of which were imperf.
stamps), and one each 7 k., 2 k., and 10 k. Arms stamps. The total rate of 50 DR. is correct, but what a way to do it. A
postcard was mailed in Moscow, destined for Vienna, on Nov. 7, on which thirteen 3 k. stamps and one 7 r. stamps were
affixed, for a total of 46 DR.: the October rate had been 45 DR., but after November 1, the rate was 90 DR. A letter
left Moscow for New York City on November 17, with thirteen 4 k. (52 DR.), three 1 R. (3 DR.), one old 100 r. and one
250 r. stamps affixed. The latter stamps were useless, unless the postmaster accepted the 350 ruble face value for the
missing 95 Denznak Ruble face value; the foreign rate was 150 DR.
Since the government had printed another 38.3 billion DR. (383.7 trillion old rubles) in November,'8s the inflation con-
tinued and new rates were introduced on December 1, 1922. Domestic rates were 20 DR. for a postcard, 20 DR. for a
local letter of 20 grams or fraction thereof; 40 DR. for an intercity letter, and another 40 DR. for registration. External
rates were fixed at 150 DR. for a postcard and 250 DR. for a letter; registration was an additional 250 DR.'8'
On December 1, 1922, the Soviets released the first of two values of a new series. Since the plates of the old Arms issue
were almost useless, the officials decided to take the plates of the higher value Arms issue which had never been used, and
use them to produce stamps which would then be overprinted with a five pointed star surrounding the hammer and sickle;
in each of the points of the star was a letter of "RSFSR." Why the Soviets did not just print the higher values and sell
them as they did the lower values is unknown. It is obvious, from the number of stamps released, that the Soviets first
had to print the multicolored starrmps, and then overprint them by either the lithograph or the typograph process. The
first stamps released were the 20 DR. on 70 k. (9,499,700 copies) and the 30 DR. on 50 k. (9,600,000 copies).'82
Some of these stamps did not reach the post offices fast enough: in Vitebsk, the postmaster found some copies of the
70 k. stamp and overprinted them himself.'83
Like most of the previous Soviet issues, these stamps prepaid the previous month's rates. The 30 DR. stamp was
almost useless since it not only paid no specific rate, but also was difficult to use in addition of postage. On
December 5, 1922, the Soviets released a 40 DR. on 15 k. (24,800,000 copies), which did help relieve some of the
problems at the local post office. The three overprints (Scott, 218 and 225, 219 and 226, and 220 and 227) ap-
peared on both the perforated and imperforate Arms stamps. With the exception of the 30 DR. stamp which was
overprinted only by lithography, the stamps were both lithographed and typographed. The printers were in a great
hurry to get these stamps to the post offices. One finds all sorts of errors, from radical shifts of the overprints,
to double, triple, and inverted overprints.
Since the old rubles and the Denznak rubles were circulating at the same time, it was natural that both old ruble
stamps and Denznak ruble stamps would be used at the same time. The result was continued confusion. One
finds strange combinations of stamps being used.14 On December 12, 1922, for example, a registered letter was
sent from Rovenskoe (Pskov Gov.) to Dresden, Germany, with three 3.50 r., three 7 r., one 1 r., twenty-seven 10 k.,
ten 2 k., and ten 20 k. stamps affixed. The 3.50 r. stamp had never been sold legally at the Denznak rate, while
it was most unusual to find the 20 k. stamp sold at that rate. The correct postage should have been 500 DR., but
no matter how you add the postage on the envelope, it is either too much or too little. A registered airmail letter
left Moscow for Berlin on December 23 with three 1 k., one 27 DR., three 45 DR., and three 100,000 r. on 250 r.
stamps, for a total of 195 DR. How this rate was arrived at is not known. Two registered letters left Kiev for
Berlin, one on December 2, the other on December 23. The second letter has twenty-four 100,000 r. on 250 r.
and ten forged 10 k. imperforate stamps, and a single 5 k. stamp, for a total of 345 DR. The first letter also had
345 DR. in postage. Since the rate should have been 500 DR., was it possible that there was a special rate from
Kiev to Berlin which was 165 DR. less than the normal rate? Or, could it be that the postmaster simply could
During December the Soviet printing presses had turned out another 51.5 billion DR. (515.2 trillion old rubles);
the dollar could purchase 4,500 DRs.185 It was time for another moving of the decimal point.
On January 1, 1923, the Soviets introduced the 1923 ruble which was worth one million old rubles, or one hundred
Denznak rubles. Having announced the new ruble (MR.), they established new rates based upon that ruble. A post-
card was to cost 50 k. (500,000 r. or 50 DR.), a local letter was also 50 k., a regular letter was 1 MR., and registration
an additional 1 MR. On January 10, 1923, f,,reign rates were also established in the terms of the million ruble ruble:
a postcard cost 2.10 MR., a regular letter 3.50 MR., and registration an additional 3.50 MR.'" Both rates remained
operative until March 9, 1923.
Postal officials, unfortunately, were not prepared for either the million ruble ruble or the higher rates. At the end of
December the post office had begun to introduce a new series of stamps (Scott, 230-237) with a face value of 10 DR.,
50 DR., 70 DR., and 100 DR.187 The stamps, accordingly, were released to the public and sold, in terms of the
million ruble ruble, for 10 k., 50 k., 70 k., and 1 MR. The only problem was that few people had the new MR.s,
and they paid either 100 DR.s or 1,000,000 old rubles for the 1 MR. stamp, depending upon what type of money
they had in their pockets until the end of January, one could still use the old Tsarist and Duma currencies.
What was the price of a stamp? It was easy to determine the price of the Arms issue: a 1 kopeck stamp sold for one
kopeck in the new MR. ruble. All the post-October 1922 issues were to be divided by 100, i.e., the 20 DR. on 70 k.
overprint on the Arms set sold for 20 k. in the new money; the 100,000 r. on 250 r. stamp, which was sold for 10 DR.,
was worth 10 k. in the million ruble ruble money; the 45 DR. airmail stamp was sold for 45 k. When one turns to the
1921 and early 1922 issues, however, problems arise. The 22,300 r. stamps, which were the highest face value stamps
in the old series, were worth 21/4 kopecks in the new money. But what about the charity sets of December 1921, and
February 1922? In April of 1922 they had been raised in value from 2250 r. to 22,500 r., and from 250 r. to
25,000 r. Could they be used for a 21/4 k. or 2/2 k. stamp?
Turning to envelopes mailed during this period, one finds that the Arms set, which would have been the most conven-
ient to use, was not utilized. An overweight domestic registered letter, for example, which was mailed in Samara,
used thirty 10 DR. fifth anniversary stamps to pay the 3 MR. rate. There were 50 k. Arms stamps in the Petrograd
Printing Office. Had these stamps been shipped to Samara, then only six stamps would have been required. On
January 9, 1923, a registered letter was sent to London from the small town of Tashlyk-Tiraspol with one hundred
and fifty 2 k. perforated stamps affixed in layers. The envelope was short 2 MR. Perhaps the correct postage was
paid, but after applying six sheets of 25 stamps each, the sender got tired. A letter to London from Zvenigorodka
on January 20, 1923, had ten 50 DR. soldier stamps, and ten 20 DR. on 70 k. imperforated Arms stamps to create
the correct postage of 7 MR. Had the 70 k. stamp not been overprinted, then only ten stamps would have been
required. A postcard leaving Moscow for Berlin on March 11, 1923, required seventeen stamps to make the 3 MR.
rate. Despite the still crucial paper shortage, Soviet letters were still plastered with stamps.
The inflation continued at an increasing rate. In January and February the government printed another 1,231,067,500.6
MR. of 1923, or 1.2 quadrillion old rubles. The dollar could buy 46 MR. The natural result of this spiral was an in-
crease in the postage rates on March 10. A domestic postcard and local letter each cost 75 new kopecks, while a regular
letter and registration each ocst 1.50 new rubles. External rates were increased to 3 MR. for a postcard, and 5 MR. for
a regular letter or registration.88
During the early part of March, the Soviets released the balance of the perforated and imperforate overprinted Arms set:
5 DR. on 20 k., 20 DR. on 15 k., 100 DR. on 15 k. (25,375,000 copies), and 200 DR. on 15 k. (40,322,700). The
introduction of this last stamp, which sold for 2 MR., helped relieve some of the need for many stamps on an envelope,
but the Soviets still did not have enough stamps to meet the specific needs of the post office. What the Soviets needed
was millions of stamps with the following face values: 75 k., 1.50 MR., 3 MR., and 5 MR. Until Soviet authorities
learned to anticipate needs by creating enough stamps with a wide range of face values, there would always be more
than one stamp on an envelope.
There is no doubt that Soviet authorities had to first print the 15 k. Arms stamp, and then overprint it. There were at
least 91,000,000 15 k. stamps overprinted; many of the 15 k. stamps came from new plates. In all probability many
more than 91,000,000 were printed, since these stamps served needs other than overprinting.89 Why the Soviets, who
were in desperate need for stamps, bothered to first print this Tsarist stamp, which required three steps to make the
original stamp, and then overprinted it, is unknown. On the face of it, it was irrational.
In examining covers used during this period, one finds little change in the hectic conditions. The most unusual cover
was a postcard mailed on March 31, 1923 in Aleksandrov to Moscow using one 70 k. chain cutter stamp.'19 Were these
stamps being used legally to pay the 75 new kopeck rate?
During March, 1923, the government had printed 1,246,161,174.38 MR. By April 1, 1923, the dollar was worth 58 MR.,
while the unofficial ratio between the MR. and the chervonets had risen from 1 to 117 in December, to 1 to 302. In
the first week of April (no exact date can be given) international rates were increased. A postcard cost 3.90 MR., a
letter cost 6.50 MR. per each 20 grams or fraction thereof, and registration was an additional 6.50 MR.
Between April 1, and May 1, 1923, the Soviets had printed another 1,594,142,568.02 MR. The dollar bought 86 MR.
on the official exchange, and 147 MR. on the free market.'9 On May 1, 1923, new domestic rates were instituted: a
postcard and local letter cost 1 MR. each, while a regular letter and registration were 2 MR. each. On May 8, foreign
rates were again hiked: a postcard cost 6 MR., and a regular letter and registration 15 MR. each. On May 20, 1923,
new airmail rates were established: an airmail postcard was an additional 5 MR., an airmail letter to Latvia was an
additional 6 MR., while airmail letters addressed to any other foreign country were an additional 10 MR. Thus, an air-
mail registered letter to Germany, on May 20, 1923, cost a minimum of 40 MR. On May 20, 1923, domestic postal
rates were increased by fifty percent.'92
The Soviets attempted to meet the new postal requirements with two new sets, whose face value was expressed in MR.
rubles. The first set was a charity issue placed on sale in Moscow for one day May 1, 1923. The stamps, which were
of limited issue, were various older stamps which had been overprinted "Philately aids Labor.": 1 MR. + 1 MR. in gold
and in bronze of the 10 DR. fifth anniversary stamp; 2 MR. + 2 MR. in bronze on the first issue 250 r. stamp; and
4 MR. + 4 MR. in bronze or silver on the 5000 r. regular issue stamp. Even though there was a much needed 4 MR.
stamp in the set, because it was on sale for one day, in only one city, these stamps did not solve the problems facing
the postal authorities. Despite the fact that the set was a limited issue, there were many errors in the overprinting.
The second series released by the postal authorities was, initially, a set of six stamps, the design of which utilized a
bust of a worker, a peasant, and a soldier sculptured by I. Share; the same motif had been used in the 1922-1923
issue. The set appeared both in perforated and imperforate condition with the following values: 1 MR., 2 MR.,
3 MR., 4 MR., 5 MR., and 10 MR. (Scott, 238-241). After printing the stamps, however, it was decided not to re-
lease the imperforate varieties to the general public, but some of the stamps were placed on sale at the Philatelic
Agency. It was also decided that the 1 MR. and 2 MR. perforated stamps would not be released because there was
sufficient stock of the 100 DR. and 200 DR. stamps overprinted on the Arms issue available. These stamps also were
sold at the Agency.
The activity at the post office during April and May was still hectic. In theory life at the post office should have
been rather simple, despite the constant changes in postal rates. In the first place, the Arms set had all but disappeared
and the postal clerks sold only Soviet stamps. Secondly, most of the 1921 issue had either been exhausted or were of
such low value as to render them useless. Third, for the first time since 1917 the post office had, or should have had,
a stock of stamps with a wide variety of face values; 5 k. (5 DR. on 20 k.), 10 k. (10 DR. Worker), 20 k. (20 DR. on
15 k., or 20 DR. on 70 k.), 30 k. (30 DR. on 50 k.), 40 k. (40 DR. on 15 k.), 50 k. (50 DR. soldier), 70 k. (70 DR.
soldier), 1 MR. (100 DR. on 15 k., or 100 DR. soldier), 2 MR. (200 DR. on 15 k.), 3 MR., 4 MR., 5 MR., and
10 MR. In theory, therefore, it was possible, after May 6, to use only one or two stamps to pay any rate, provided,
of course, that there were no further rate increases.
What was true in theory was not necessarily true in fact. Despite the existence of values up to 2 MR. after March 15,
1923, and of values up to 10 MR. after May 6, these stamps did not reach local post office in sufficient quantities.
A letter mailed on April 6 from Petrograd to Riga used thirteen stamps; in Chausy (Mogilev Gov.), the 6.50 MR. rate
i on a letter to New York was formed by fifteen 30 DR. on 50 k., and one 200 DR. on 15 k.; in Ust'-Labinskaya
(Kuban Obl.) the rate on a letter to Boston was formed by fifteen 30 DR. on 50 k., and five 40 DR. on 15 k. On
May 10, 1923, a letter to Paterson, New Jersey from Novozybkov had fifteen 70 DR. and five 50 DR. stamps for a
total of 13 MR., which was the correct rate before the rate change of May 8, 1923. A letter from Romny (Poltava
Prov.) to New York City on May 14, had thirteen 100 DR. stamps, which again was the wrong rate for that date. A
letter from Okna (Podolia) to Berlin on June 5, had two 5 MR. 1923 stamps, ten 70 DR. soldier stamps, and ten
30 DR. on 50 k., overprinted Arms stamps to make the correct rate of 20 MR. A letter from Kamenets-Podolsk to
London on June 6, 1923, used five 40 DR. on 15 k. and six 3 MR. 1923 stamps; on June 13, two letters were mailed
from Dzygova (Podolia) to London: one letter had twenty 100 DR. on 15 k., and the other letter had twenty 40 DR.
on 15 k., and six 200 DR. on 15 k. overprinted Arms stamps. On June 19, 1923, a letter from Kamenka (Podolia)
to London contained twenty 50 DR. soldier stamps. An overweight letter from Smotrych (Podolia) to Berlin on June
27, 1923, had seventy-five 40 DR. on 15 k. stamps to make the 30 MR. rate. It would seem obvious that in Podolia,
at least, the new issues had not arrived quickly. If we examine letters sent from small towns like Dzhankoi, Uman,
Grivenskaya, or Lubny, or medium sized towns like Mogilev, we find that the central government had not been suc-
cessful in distributing the higher value stamps to local post offices.193
Between May 1, and August 1, 1923, the Soviet printing presses had turned out another 6,379,722,753.56 MR., or 6.4
quadrillion old rubles; the dollar could purchase 23,000 DR., officially, or 31,000 DR. (310 million old rubles) on
the free market.'" The result of the continuing inflation was that domestic postal rates were increased on May 20,
June 10, July 5, and August 20, 1923. Foreign postal rates, however, remained constant between May 8, and
The monetary situation was intolerable. The MR. ruble was collapsing at a faster rate than had the old rubles. To
prevent complete anarchy or so it was thought the government announced that domestic postal rates would be
set in terms of the uncirculated gold chervonets. Since neither chervontsy nor stamps in terms of chervontsy existed,
~ each month the Ministry of Finance was required to establish the coefficient rate of exchange between the theoretical
gold ruble and the actual paper currency. The initial rate was set at 1 to 130, which was high since the unofficial
exchange rate between the chervonets (ten gold rubles) and the paper rubles was 1 to 1,150, i.e., a gold ruble should
have been worth 115 MR. paper rubles. The postal rates, in terms of the gold rubles (and the existing rubles) were:
postcard, 4 k. (5.20 MR.) the rate was lowered on December 15, 1923, to 3 k.; a local letter in Moscow or Petro-
grad, 5 k. (6.50 MR.); a local letter anywhere else, 4 k.; an intercity letter, 6 k. (7.80 MR.); registration, 6 k.,;
airmail, 10 k. (13 MR.); special delivery, 90 k. (11.70 MR.).'95
Foreign postage, however, was not established in gold terms until October 15. From August 20 to October 15, the
foreign rates went through four increases: the postcard went from 9 MR. to 12 MR. to 18 MR. to 27 MR.; a letter
went from 15 MR. to 20 MR., to 30 MR., to 45 MR.; the additional charge for registration was identical with the
Internal rates fluctuated with the changes in the rate of the coefficient of exchange. On September 1, the rate was
1:200; on September 15, it was 1:330; on October 1, it was 1:600, which was rather high since the unofficial rate
of exchange on that date was 1:410, but the government was anticipating further devaluation. By November 1, the
unofficial rate of exchange between the gold and paper rubles had climbed to 1:710. The collapse of the MR. was
reflective of the activity in the printing offices. During August and September the government had printed another
39 billion MR.; in November, 46 billion MR. had been issued; in December 110 billion MR. were released. On
September 1, the dollar had brought 405 MR. on the official exchange, and 500 MR. on the free market; on
October 1, the rates were 820 MR. and 1,025 MR.; on November 1, 1,420 MR. and 2,029 MR.; on December 1, 1923
the dollar bought 2,840 MR. officially, and 2,942 MR. on the free market.'97
In August, meanwhile, the Soviets had issued a set of stamps to commemorate the First Agricultural Fair in Moscow.
The set of four values, 1 MR., 2 MR., 5 MR., and 7 MR. (Scott, 242-249), appeared in both perforated and imper-
forate condition. Even though this set did have a needed 7 MR. value, it was of such limited issue that it was
relatively useless. Most of the stamps of this issue were used by philatelists in the larger urban communities. With
the government still being faced with a chronic paper shortage, and still being unable to get the proper postage
stamps to local post offices, one must question the wisdom of printing special commemorative stamps in limited
numbers. One such useless set which the Soviets had released in June, however, does not fall into this category.
When the Ukrainian Soviet Republic was still theoretically independent of Moscow, it had ordered a set of charity
stamps from the Berlin State Printing Office. The stamps were issued on both regular paper and on special water-
marked paper which had hitherto been used by the government of Wurttemberg. The set was supposed to be per-
forated, but imperforate copies of the unwatermarked set and of one stamp in the watermarked stamp (20 k. +
20 K.) appeared. The face value was in Karbovantzi: (10 k. + 10 k., 20 k. + 20 k., 90 k. + 30 k., 150 k. + 50 k.).
By the time the stamps reached Russia, the Ukraine had lost its right of independent postage. Having paid for the
printing, however, the Soviets decided to release the stamps (Scott, Ukraine, B1-B8), and sell them for 1923 rubles.
While the issue was available for postage throughout central Russia, most of the stamps were used in the Ukraine, but
because of the low face value, they served little purpose and most of them were purchased by collectors.
On August 15, 1923, the Soviets released a 20 MR. stamp to complete the set initiated in May (Scott, 241A). The
appearance of a 20 MR. face value stamp relieved some of the need for many stamps on an envelope. This stamp
was the first Soviet issue to anticipate higher postal values, but within two weeks of issuance even its face value was
too low to meet normal needs.
During the summer of 1923 the Soviets had announced its intention to release a set of four airmail stamps in
August. The set, 1 MR., 3 MR., 5 MR., and 10 MR. (Scott, C2-C5), which was not listed in the 1955 Soviet
Catalogue, did not reach the post office until December. Since there was no regular airmail service during the
winter, the stamps were placed on sale only at the Philatelic Agency. When airmail service was resumed, these
stamps were of such low face value that it was decided not to release them to the general public. Most of the
stamps were returned to the printers where they were overprinted in terms of gold rubles.
On examining covers sent through the mail during the summer of 1923 one still finds considerable confusion. The
minimun charge for a registered airmail letter to Berlin was 30 MR., yet a letter mailed on August 8, contained
thirteen 10 DR. stamps, and one 5 MR. stamp, for a total.of 6.30 MR. There is some evidence to support the
position that regular letters between Petrograd and Latvia were sent at an unannounced reduced rate; airmail letters
to Latvia until June 14, 1923, were cheaper than to any other European country. Letters to Libau from Shepetovka
and Pogiry, mailed on August 18, had only 10 MR. instead of 20 MR., while a letter mailed from Petrograd on
August 21, a day after the rate hike, had 20 MR. instead of 30 MR. As we have indicated throughout this paper,
there is the possibility that local postmasters, even in Petrograd, established a postal rate independent of the general
The rapid collapse of the MR. forced the Soviet postal authorities to make an important decision. While Commissar
of Finance Sokolnikov was attempting to convince the government to adopt the chervonets as legal tender, the
postal administration began to issue stamps with their face values expressed in gold currency. Thus we have a series
of anomalies: domestic rates had been expressed in cherwontsy since August 15, but chervontsy stamps were only
issued on October 11, while the general circulation of chervontsy currency did not start until the beginning of 1924.
Confusion within the post office was superficially relieved when a set of ten gold currency stamps (1 k., 2 k., 3 k.,
4 k., 5 k., 6 k., 10 k., 20 k., 50 k., and 1 r.) were released in mid-October. Since there was little or no chervontsy
currency in circulation, these stamps had to be purchased with MR. rubles at the rate of the coefficient of exchange
set by the Ministry of Finance. The gold rates for external postage were set on October 15, 1923 as follows: post-
card, 12 kopecks; ordinary letter, 20 kopecks; registration, an additional 20 kopecks. A registered letter from Volo-
gorod to Berlin mailed on October 16, should have paid 40 gold kopecks times the coefficient of exchange, which
on that date was approximately one to six hundred. The postage on the envelope should have been either 40 gold
kopecks or 240 MR. Either the postmaster had not received the latest rates, or he could not figure the rates. In
any event there were only 90 MR. on the envelope, which was the old rate. On October 31, 1923, however, a
letter left Sevastopol for London with two 5 MR. 1923 stamps, sixteen 100 DR. 1922 stamps (for a total of 26 MR.)
plus two 3 gold kopeck and three 10 gold kopeck stamps (for a total of 36 gold kopecks). The rate for the letter
was 40 gold kopecks. Since the coefficient of exchange was 1:650, the 26 MR. equalled 4 gold kopecks.'"
Considering the difficulty Soviet postal authorities had had in distributing previous issues, the rapidity with which
the new gold currency stamps reached the local communities was remarkable. By November 1, 1923 one finds few
examples of the older issues; by December 1, 1923 all previous stamps were invalidated. One would still find these
stamps on envelopes, but one soon notices that these stamps not only do not pay postage, but when mailed in post
offices which hand cancelled stamps individually, these stamps are not cancelled. By December, the postmasters
finally knew what was legal and what was not.
The introduction of the gold stamps did not end postal confusion, however, because the government had not as yet
circulated the gold-backed currency. On November 10, 1923, the rate of exchange was 1 to 800, on December 10,
it was 1 to 1,700. During January 1924, the government printed another 223 MR. or 223 quadrillion old rubles,
and the dollar could buy, on February 1, 1924, 8,600 MR. on the official exchange, or 25,042 MR. on the free
Only on February 5, 1924, when the coefficient of exchange had fallen to 1 to 13,200 did the government announce
plans to introduce the new gold currency, while at the same time, it announced that it would also print a new MR. note
with a face value of 25,000 MR.a2 On February 22, 1924, the government began minting 1, 2, 3, and 5 kopeck coins
in copper, and 10, 15, 20, 50, and 1 r. coins in silver. These coins, like the 1, 3, and 5 ruble gold backed notes or-
dered on February 5, 1924, did not receive general circulation until the end of the month. Meanwhile the government
had printed another 361 billion million ruble notes. On March 7, 1924, the government ordered the redemption of
all old currency at the rate of one gold paper ruble for each 50,000 MR., or one to fifty billion old rubles.
The Soviet Union, as the country was called after the incorporation of the various independent Soviet republics, still
had problems with the new currency, but the problems at the post office were at an end and would never be re-
peated."' After seven years of confusion, mismanagement, and anarchy, Soviet postal authorities were able to
reestablish firm control over the country's postal administration.
One of the functions of the post office had been the sale of postal money orders which transferred money from
one area to another. From the number of such postal orders in the hands of collectors it would seem that the
Soviet population had confidence that the postal authorities could maintain that service.
2 Scott's Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue, 1969 (New York, Scott Publications, 1968) (Hereinafter referred to
as Scott, and the number of the stamp), nos. 71-87.
3 Scott, 149-150. The Kerenskii government had prepared a set of seven stamps depicting a sword severing the
chains of bondage. Before the stamps reached the post office, however, the provisional government was over-
thrown. The set contained a 7 k., 10 k., 14 k., 15 k., 20 k., 35 k., and 70 k. stamp. In 1918 the Soviet
Government released only the 35 k. blue, and the 70 k. brown stamps. Arthur King Clark, "Russia," Billig's
Philatelic Handbook, IX (Jamaica, New York, Fritz Billig, 1948), 181, nos. 149E-151.
4 Scott, 191-201G, 210, 216-229, B24-B29, B38-B42, C1.
5 There are several reasons for the difference between the number of plates and the number of stamps issued. One
plate could be used to produce a vignette, but the stamp could appear with or without perforations, or with or
without watermarks in the paper; a plate used for overprinting could be used on different stamps. In 1922-1923,
the same 20 ruble plate surcharge was used on the old 15 k. and 70 k. stamps which appeared both perforated
6 On Friday, May 23, 1969, the newspapers carried a report of how the U.S. Secret Service broke up a ring which
had printed $240,000 worth of the regular 6t F.D.R. stamp. Mekeel's Weekly Stamp News, CXII, no 24 (June 13,
1969), 200. These stamps have no philatelic value. If they were genuine a reputable dealer would not have paid
more than $190,000 for the lot, while cancelled the four million stamps are worth less than $400. In Russia, a
letter was mailed on December 23, 1922 in Kiev containing ten imperforated copies of the 10 k. stamp. Every-
one of the stamps was counterfeit. The purpose was to defraud the government. Collection of Mr. Kurt Adler.
7 West European stamp dealers, wishing to sell complete sets of the 1921 Soviet issue, discovered that the first four
stamps were in short supply and, therefore, had them reproduced. N. Verbitsky, "First Soviet Issue of 1921,"
Russian Philatelist, 7 (New York, Russian American Philatelic Society, December, 1965) (Hereinafter after referred
to as Rus. Phil.), 26. In my experience, most copies of Scott B14-B17, B24-B29, B30-B33, and C1 (used) offered
for sale have been counterfeit. The frauds are easily discovered by the specialist, but the average collector is at a
loss. Ya. Fegchin, "Fal'shiviie marki Batuma," Sovetskii Filatelist (Hereinafter referred to as Sov. Fil.), 3-4 (March-
April, 1923), 24-26, claimed that the frauds were executed to finance counterrevolutionary forces. Mr. Edward
Stern, an American Stamp dealer, attended the trial of four counterfeiters in Moscow. The culprits received sen-
tences ranging from thirty months to five years. The criminals had fabricated various revolutionary issues. Edward
Stern, "Philatelic Conditions As I Found Them in Russia," Collectors Club Philatelist, III, no. 3 (New York, The
Collectors Club, July 1924), 106-107. In 1915, the imperial police arrested R. Feyvelich of Kherson, who has
been manufacturing various Tsarist stamps. Gregory B. Salisbury, "Romanov Currency Stamps," The Journal of
the Rossica Society of Russian Philately, 59 (New York, Rossica Society of Russian Philately, 1960) (Hereinafter
referred to as Rossica), 22.
* The consensus among Russian philatelists seems to be that many of the crude forgeries and fantasy issues which
were executed in France and Italy, were fabricated by individuals who wished to discredit Soviet stamps and thus
prevent the Soviet Philatelic Agency in Moscow from receiving needed foreign exchange. To frustrate the forgers,
the Philatelic Agency placed a little red mark on the gummed side of expensive or rare stamps. The effect of
the forgeries was that many dealers refused to sell any Russian stamps. See, for example, Stanley Gibbons
Monthly Circular (London, Stanley Gibbons, Ltd.), 22 (June, 1921), 17; 27 (Nov., 1921), 23, 26; 38
(Oct., 1922), 86; 42 (Feb. 1923), 185; 43 (March, 1923), 216. The Sov. Fil., 6 (21) (May, 1924), 1-5; 6 (22)
(une, 1924), 5-10; and 7 (23) (July, 1924), 1-5, published an appeal "To the Philatelists of the World," in
English, French and German defending the honesty of Soviet stamps and listing all the frauds, which were called
fantasies, and which were printed in Western Europe. An examination of Sov. Fil., indicates that the Soviets
were eager to maintain philatelic contacts with the West. Several Western stamp dealers advertised in the Soviet
journal. Another interesting reason for counterfeiting is to confuse the enemy." During the war the German
government counterfeited the money stamps and sent them to Russia for propaganda purposes. Salisbury,
Rossica, 59 (1960), 24.
n September 1947, the USSR, for example, issued a set of six stamps commemorating the tenth anniversary of the
Moscow-Volga Canal (Scott, 1147-1152; M.T. Mil'kin, A.S. Chumakov, A.A. Shirokov (eds.), Pochtoviie Marki SSSR,
Katalog, 1955 (Moscow, Ministerstvo Kul'turi SSSR, 1955) (Hereinafter Soviet Cat. 1192-1197). There is no indica-
tion in the official literature of there having been more than one set of plates, yet an examination of the 30 k. sepia
stamp depicting the Karamyshevskaya Dam indicates that there must have been at least two plates: on some stamps,
a large bush in the lower left corner is in full bloom, while on other stamps it is in partial bloom.
to In 1922, 1932, and 1934 the chain cutter stamps (Scott, 149-150) were overprinted and used as tax stamps. The tax
was levied on all letters containing shipments of postage stamps. In 1928, Scott 181-186 reappeared on pelure
(cigarette) paper and perforated, with an overprint for tax purposes. In 1925, the imperial semi-postal issue (Scott,
B5-B13) reappeared with overprints for tax purposes. It would seem doubtful that all these overprints were applied
to "left-overs." See Michel Briefmarkenkatalog, Europa, 1963 (Munchen, Verlag des Schwaneberger Album, 1962),
p. 1307, in the section called Gebuhrenmarken fur Briefmarken-Tauschsendungen.
Some refugees, who had sufficient foresight to leave Russia not only with piles of stamps but also with the die used in
cancelling stamps, set up shop in Paris where they produced "genuine" stamps on cover. Sometimes the only way to
tell a genuine cover from a fabrication is by the quality of the ink used in the cancellation. Covers postmarked
Tukkum are always, for example, to be treated with great circumspection.
12 On April 15, 1918, an individual in Tetkino (Kursk Gov.) mailed a letter with half of a 20 k. stamp. The stamp
was legitimately sent through the mail, but the postal rate on the date of mailing was 20 kopecks, not 10 kopecks.
It is possible, but no probable, that the local postmaster did not know that the rate had been changed on Feb. 28.
The envelope is probably an invention of a philatelist who had a friend in the post office. To my knowledge, bi-
sected stamps were legitimately used in only two areas of Russia. I am excluding Zemstvo stamps which were bi-
sected without central authority approval. In the Finnish towns of Ruhtinansalmi and Kuninkaaniemi there was
a shortage of 20 pennia stamps and the central authorities in Helsinki permitted the postmasters to bisect the 40
pennia stamp. In Odessa and Poltava a temporary shortage of 50 k. stamps forced the local postmasters to bisect
the 1 ruble stamp either vertically or diagonally. As one looks over thousands of covers, one soon realizes which
covers were mailed by philatelists. These covers are automatically discredited.
"3 See Henri Tristant, "The Trans-Siberian Postal Route," Rossica, 74 (1968), 6-15; 75 (1968), 14-16. A registered
letter posted in Petrograd on November 24, 1915 (O.S.) arrived in Copenhagen on March 4, 1916. Author's
"1 Julius F. Fohs, "Revised Summary of the Printing and Plates of the Russian Annr Issue 1908-1922, Part I, Charac-
teristics," The British Journal of Russian Philately (Hereinafter BJRP), 29 (London, British Society of Russian
Philately, May, 1961), 58a-74.
"1 John H. Reynolds, Special Catalogue of Postage Stamps of Russia, Part I, Imperial Section (Streatham, U.K., The
British Society of Russian Philately, 1957), stamps no. P150, P151, P151-173.
'* Arthur Z. Arnold, Banks, Credit and Money in Soviet Russia (New York, Columbia University Press, 1937), p. 16.
S17' Ibid, p. 50.
8 Gregory B. Salisbury, "Romanov Currency Stamps, 1915, 1916-1917," Rossica, 59 (1960), 22.
19 Author's collection.
20 Lot no. 2920, Stampazine (N.Y.) Auction no. 1123, May 3, 1969.
"21 Arnold, Banks, Credit and Money, pp. 80-81.
2 BJRP, 1 (Dec., 1946), 10-11. It was claimed, in 1924, that the issue was fabricated by a "swindler named
Trachtenberg" in Petrograd. Sov. Fil., 5(21) (May, 1924), 3. See also Cercle Philatelique France-U.R.S.S.,
Les Timbres-Poste de la Russie Imperiale (Paris, Cercle Philatelique, 1964), pp. 75-76; Emil Marcovitch, "Phantasies,"
Rossica, 55(1958), 41.
"2 As early as March 15 (March 28) the Cap overprints appear postally used. A.H. Wortman, "Revolutionary Over-
prints," BJRP, 3 (June, 1949), 41-42. On March 10 (March 23), 1917, eight 35 k. stamps with the Izvestiya over-
print were used in Petrograd. As late as February 1, 1918 a registered letter was mailed in Yekaterinodar with
four 4 k. Romanov stamps, and four 20 k. on 14 k. Arms stamps overprinted with the Cap. Oscar Riep (ed.),
Die Sammiung des Barons Carl von Scharfenberg, Russland (Berlin, 1925), pp. 43-44. The first page of the
March 4, 1917 issue of Izvestiya (no. 5) appeared on a block of twelve stamps. It contained Grand Duke Michael's
proclamation. The headline is easy to read, but the text is so small that even a strong magnifying glass will not
help. Furthermore, the perforations prevent words and lines from appearing.
24 McI. E. Vibert, "The Chalk-lines Stamps of Russia 1909-23," Stanley Gibbons Monthly Journal, IV no. 10 (London,
Stanley Gibbons, July, 1927), 232; J. J. Darlow, "Russia, 1917 and Onwards," The London Philatelist, XXIX no.
341 (London, Royal Philatelic Society, May, 1920), 116; S. V. Prigara, Russkia pochta v Imperii v Turtzii v Kitaei
pochta v Tzarstve Pol'skom (New York, Russian Philatelic Society, 1941), pp. 39-51.
25 Vladlen Aronovich Karlinskii, "Soviet Postal Rates," Rossica, 73 (1967), 63; 75 (1968), 66.
6 There were no further printing of the 7 k. and 14 k. stamps after 1917 even though stocks of these issues will be
used until 1923. Fohs, "Revised summary .., Part III," BJRP, 31 (October, 1962), 28-29.
"27 Fohs, "Issues, Printings and Plate Characteristics of the One Ruble Arms Stamp, 1910-1923, Czarist Issues,
1910-1917, and Soviet Russian, 1918-1923," Rossica, 56 (1959), 93.
2 S. D. Tchilinghirian and W.S.E. Stephen, Stamps of the Russian Empire Used Abroad (6 parts, Bristol/Aberlour,
British Society of Russian Philately, 1957-1960), 111:267-288; IV:291-284; V:388-480.
29 Michel Briefmarkenkatalog, p. 1313, mentions (stamp no. 43, Russische Post in China) a 20 cent on 20 k. imperf.
with an inverted overprint. I have not seen a genuine copy of this stamp used on cover.
30 Vibert, "The Chalk-Lines," 234. The 7 k. had been forged around 1912 and used in the mails (Clark, "Russia,"
no. 115e), but since the stamp was not used in 1917 it presented no problem.
31 F. G. Chuchin, Catalogue of Russian Rural Postage Stamps (Moscow, Commissioner for Philately and Vouchers of
the USSR, 1925) pp. 76, 147; C. Schmidt, Sammlung Russischer Landschaftsmarken im Reichspostmuseum
(Berlin, 1934), pp. 39, 42, 69, 77, 78, 83-84, 96, 136, 143, 154, 162, 164; N. Matyshev, "Zemstvo Stamps
Omitted by Chuchin," Rossica, 55(1958), 52.
32 Schmidt, Sammlung, pp. 68, 165.
33 Ibid., p. 77.
" Matyshev, "Zemstvo Stamps, Rossica, 56(1959), 40-51; A.A. Shirokov, "The Stamps of the Luga Soviet,"
Rossica, 71(1966), 52-54.
"* The face values of the stamps were: 10 shahiv, 20 sh., 30 sh., 40 sh., and 50 sh. 2 sh. equalled 1 kopek. Only
40,000 sets were authorized.
"3 C.W. Roberts and R. Seichter, Trident Issues of the Ukraine (5 vols., Ilminster, Somerset, U.K., 1956-1966),
" Fohs, Rossica, 56 (1959), 94.
U Darlow, "Russia," 116.
SS.D. Tchilinghirian and P.T. Ashford, The Postage Stamps of Armenia, Part One, The Framed Monograms (Bristol,
The British Society of Russian Philately, 1953), pp. 21-23.
40 A.M. Rosselevitch, "Postal Emissions of South Russia," Rossica, 57 (1959), 10.
"41 Ibid., 12.
4 Ibid., 13.
3 Rosselevitch, "Overprints of General Wrangel in Crimea and Constantinople," Rossica, 55 (1958), 72-76.
" There are several reasons why no longer current stamps are to be found legitimately used on letters. Let me cite
three personal examples. About two years ago my local post office found several sheets of the 1%< stamp issued
by the U.S. Government on May 5, 1938. While in Spain in 1965 I found a tobacconist who had several sheets
of the 5 centavo "El Cid" stamp issued in 1938. In both cases I purchased the stamps and used them for
postage. I recently purchased a small collection of stamps which contained some mint copies of the U.S. 1894
issue. The stamps were worthless for philatelic purposes, but still valid postage. I used them. Philatelists can
obtain and do use unusual stamps. It is for this reason that one finds peculiar stamps used in Russia during the
period 1917-1923, and it is for this reason, that the oddities are excluded as evidence.
4 The collections of Messrs Norman Epstein and Kurt Adler.
" For German issues in Russia see Michel Briefmarkenkatalog, section called "Postgebiet Ober-Ost," pp. 256-258;
for Polish issues see Illustrowany Katalog Znackow Polskich, 1966 (Warsaw, Agencja Wydawnicza "Ruch," 1966),
section VIII "Znaczki poczt miejskich," pp. 251-257.
"7 Arnold, Banks, Credit and Money, pp. 76, 87.
* Karlinskii, "Soviet Postal Rates," Rossica, 73 (1967), 63.
S Collections of Messers Epstein and Adler.
0o Ibid., John Lloyd, Rossica, 66 (1964) facing page 26, shows a registered cover from Voronezh to Petrograd
mailed on May 11, 1918 with two 50 k. imperf. Arms stamps, and five 1 k. postal savings stamps to make the
correct rate of 1.05 r.
"5 F.G. Chuchin, Katalog Pochtovykh Marok i Tzel'nykh Veshchei, Grazhdanskaya Voina v Rossii (Moscow, Izd. Sov.
Fil. Ass. pri Kom. VTslK Fonda, 1927) p. 126.
"52 The first letter had been owned by Mr. John Barry and was described in BJRP, 17 (April, 1955), 503. On
June 25, 1969 both the first and the second covers were auctioned by Robson Lowe when Dr. R.J. Ceresa's
collection was sold. Robson Lowe Ltd., Catalogue of Auction Wednesday 25th June, 1969 (London, 1969),
lots nos. 1607, 1608.
"5 Ibid., lot no. 1609.
4 Karlinskii, Rossica, 73 (1967), 64. Considering the new rates, one wonders why the 35 k. and 70 k. chain cutter
stamps were released.
5B Arnold, Banks, Credit and Money, p. 76.
56 Emil Marcovitch, "Phantasies," Rossica, 55 (1958), 43.
"" Karlinskii, Rossica, 73 (1967), 64.
Arnold, Banks, Credit and Money, p. 76.
"9 Ibid., p. 77.
60 Ibid., p. 78.
61 Collection of Mr. Kurt Adler.
62 Collection of Mr. Norman Epstein. Mr. John Lloyd has a registration receipt from Petrograd dated June 15, 1919
which used six imperf. 5 r. Arms stamps. It would seem from an examination of various postal items, that in the
spring and early summer there were more imperf. than perf. 5 r. stamps available.
"6 Robson Lowe, Catalogue, lots nos. 1611, 1613, 1614. Collection of Mr. Norman Epstein. It would also seem
that in the town of Kashira, the postmaster either had run out of 5 r. stamps or was afraid of doing so. There is
a money transfer dated April 4, 1919 containing one 50 k. perf., one 5 r. imperf. and eight 5 r. savings bank
stamps which had not been legalized. Major Asdrubal Prado, "Documents of Troubled Times," Rossica, 69 (1965),
9, letter no. 11.
"64 Karlinskii, Rossica, 73 (1967), 65.
65 Collection of Mr. Norman Epstein.
" Rosselevitch, "North West Army Overprints," Rossica, 51 (1957), 42-48.
"" In my collection I have the set in sheets of fifty thus cancelled.
"6 Karlinskii, Rossica, 73 (1967), 66.
9 Cercle Philatelique France U.R.S.S., Union des Republiques Socialistes Sovi6tiques, Piriode de 1917 a 1941
(Paris, 1969) p. 91.
70 Vibert, "Chalk-lines Stamps," Stanley Gibbons Monthly Journal, IV, no. 11 (August, 1927), 252.
"71 Collection of Mr. Kurt Adler. Mr. Adler has several other covers of this particular period, all addressed to mem-
bers of the Red Army; one finds no indication that ruble value stamps were available.
"7 Robson Lowe, lot no. 1614.
"n The sollestlon of Mr. Norman Epteln.
u Karlinskli, Roamle, 73 (1967), 66.
"7 E.E. Goodchild, "Opportunity," Stanley Gibbons Monthly Circular, 40 (December, 1922), 117-118. It is a great
pity that most philatelists discarded these stampless envelopes.
"* Schmidt, Sammlung, pp. 78, 136; Matyshev, "Zemstvos," Rossica, 56 (1959), 51.
"7 Karlinskii, Rossica, 73 (1967), 67.
"7 Ibid., Rossica, 75 (1968), 66.
7 Arnold, Banks, Credit and Money, pp. 76, 87.
"* Ibid., p. 84.
"*' Ibid., p. 82. As of January 1, 1921, 8.9% of the money circulating in Soviet held territory was stil Taerkt or
Duma. The Soviets would continue to print that type of paper until the reform of 1922.
2 Boris Shishkin, "Stamps of the Russian Civil War Period, 1918-1921," Rossica, 72 (1967), 11; V. Sapozhnikov,
"Khar'kovskii vypusk nadpechatok 'Rub,'" Sov. Fil., 27-28 (Moscow, November/December, 1924), 14-17; Ibid.,
32 (February, 1925), 2-6; K. Lissiuk, Notes on the Revolutionary Stamps in Russia, 1920-22 (privately printed
Sby author, New York ? 1926 ?), p. 10; Cercle Phil., URSS, pp. 36-37. The Kharkov overprints are on both
Tsarist Arms stamps and the Arms stamps which had been overprinted by the Ukrainian People's Republic. From
an examination of the particular Trident overprints, it would seem that the stamps had been overprinted origi-
nally in Yekaterinoslav and Kiev as well as in Kharkov.
3 John Lloyd, "My Exhibition Sheets of the Imperial Issues," Rossica, 66 (1964), facing page 26, shows a photo-
graph of the 100 r. tax stamp used on a money transfer card on September 17, 1920 in Tashkent.
A.W. Greaves, "The Postmaster Provisional Surcharges of Russia, 1920-22," BJRP, 3 (June, 1949), 35-40.
"8 Sov. Fil., 3-4 (March/April, 1923), 18.
Lissiuk, p. 8; Chuchin, Kat Grazh. Voina, p. 121; Cercle Phil., URSS, p. 40.
Lissiuk, p. 5; Chuchin, Kat. Grazh. Voina, p. 102; Cercle Phil., URSS, p. 34; Sov. Fil., 3-4 (March/April, 1923), 16.
"* Cercle Phil., URSS, p. 42.
8 Lissiuk, pp. 7, 9; Cercle Phil., URSS, pp. 35, 39-40; Chuchin, Kat. Grazh. Voina, pp. 119-120, 130-131.
0O Lissiuk, p. 8; Cercle Phil., URSS, pp. 34, 37, 39, 42; Chuchin Kat Grazh. Voina, pp. 113, 126-127.
"9' Lissiuk, pp. 6, 12; Cercle Phil., URSS, pp. 34-35, 37-38, 40; Chuchin, Kat Grazh. Voina, pp. 106, 1130115,
Lissiuk, pp. 8, 10, 12; Cercle Phil, URSS, pp. 34-38, 41-42: Chuchin, Kat. Grah. Voina, pp. 106-106, 110, 113,
S122-123, 126, 128-130.
"93A convenient military map will be found in Atlas Istorii SSSR, Vol. III (Moscow, 1950), maps nos. 21-23.
94Lissiuk, p. 12; Cercle Phil., URSS, pp. 35-36, 38-39; Chuchin, Kat. Grazh. Voina, pp. 109-110.
"95Lissiuk, pp. 6-7; Cercle Phil., URSS, pp. 34, 38-41; Chuchin, Kat. Grazh. Voina, pp. 103, 112, 118-119, 125.
96Lissiuk, pp. 5, 10-12; Cercle Phil., URSS, pp. 35, 37, 40, 42; Chuchin, Kat. Grazh. Voina, pp. 103, 105-106,
108, 111-112, 121-122.
"7Lissiuk, p. 11; Cercle Phil., URSS, pp. 35, 37, 42; Chuchin, Kat. Grazh. Voina, p. 107.
"9Lissiuk, p. 12; Cercle Phil., URSS, pp. 36, 38, 42-43; Chuchin, Kat. Grazh. Voina, pp. 108-109, 116, 127.
9Lissiuk, p. 7; Cercle Phil., URSS, pp. 35, 37-40; Chuchin, Kat. Grazh. Voina, pp. 110-111, 115-118, 121.
"1All examples were from the collection of Mr. Kurt Adler.
"1o' Tchilinghirian and Ashford, The Postage Stamps of Armenia, pp. 24-27.
"102t would seem that Kazan, for example, still had both the 3.50 r. and the 7 r. stamps, but the smaller towns had
to use low values.
103Rosselevitch, Rossica, 57 (1959), 14. Mr. Adler has discovered a strange money transfer card sent from the
Ministry of Posts and Telegraph in Moscow on December 3, 1920. The charge for the transaction was 39 kopecks
(really 39 rubles). The rate was paid by affixing one regular 20 k. and one 15 k. stamp plus four 1 r. on 3 k.
stamps which had originally been issued by the Denikin White government. There is no question that the card is
both genuine and nonphilatelic. Captured stamps were sold in Moscow.
"" L'Echo de la Timbrologie, 676 (Amiens, Yvert & Tellier, February 29, 1924), 222, 369.
"1oKarlinskii, Rossica, 73 (1967), 65-66.
'OArnold, Banks, Credit and Money, pp. 76, 117.
107R. Sklarevski, "The Stamps of the Russian Socialistic Federated Soviet Republic," Rossica, 66 (1964), 40.
""Stanley Gibbons Monthly Circular, 36 (August, 1922), 9.
'"0L'Echo, 614 (July 31, 1921), 687. A set of seven stamps, manufactured by Marco Fontano of Venice in 1923,
contained pictures of Lenin, Trotskii, and Zinov'ev. Marcovitch, "Phantasies," Rossica, 55 (1958), 45.
"O L'Echo, 614 (July 31, 1921, 687. This proof, which is genuine, exists in both olive and blue versions.
""Sklarevski, The Stamps of the Russian, etc. 41. The unused portion of the set was overprinted in 1922.
"2Collection of Mr. Kurt Adler. Since the letter was registered it is short 20 rubles postage.
"3Godfrey White, The Postage Stamps of the Soviet Republics, 1917-25 (London, Harris Publications, 1925), p. 9.
When the two sizes were first noted in London, it was thought that the difference was caused by shrinkage.
Stanley Gibbons Monthly Circular. 36 (August, 1922), 9.
"4Cercle Phil., URSS, stamps nos. 139-142; Soviet Cat., nos. 1-5.
"1""See the report of P. Krynin, "Provizorii sovietskogo perioda" Sow. Fil., 7-8 (Moscow, July/August, 1923), 12-16,
on conditions in the town of Sebezh (Vitebsk Gov.) as of August 15, 1921.
"*Karlinskii, Rossica, 73 (1967), 68.
"7Between August and November the Soviets had printed over three trillion rubles and the value of the ruble had
fallen to about 46,000 to the dollar. Arnold, Banks, Credit and Money, p. 76.
"*Karlinskii, Rossica, 73 (1967), 69.
"*Arnold, Banks, Credit and Money, p. 96.
""lSklarevski, Rosica, 67 (1964), 68; White, The Postage Stamps, p. 10.
'21 Sklarevski, Rossica, 67 (1964), 68-71.
'1 Karlinskii, Rossica, 73 (1967), 68; Otto Hartmann, Die eigentlichen Ausgaben der Briefmarken des russischen
Sowjetstaates (Berlin, Zeitschrift des Germania-Ring, 1924), p. 4.
"s'Karlinskii, Rossica, 73 (1967), 68.
'"Lissiuk p. 8; Cercle Phil., URSS, p. 47: Chuchin, Kat. Grazh, Voina, pp. 102, 123; Krynin, Sov. Fil., 7-8
(July/August, 1924), 14; L'Echo, no. 619 (October 15, 1921), 902.
'"Cercle Phil., URSS, p. 47; Chuchin, Kat. Grazh. Voina, pp. 108, 115.
S'"Chuchin, Kat. Grazh. Voina, pp. 103, 128.
'"1John Lloyd, "My Exhibition Sheets," Rossica, 66 (1964), 25; collections of Messrs. Adler and Epstein.
'"Collections of Messrs. Adler and Epstein.
""Collections of Messrs. Adler and Epstein; Asdrubal Prado, "Three Solid Triangles," Rossica, 70 (1966), 13,
envelope 1; John Lloyd, Rossica, 67 (1964), 19.
"1N. Verbitsky, "The First Soviet Issue," Russian American Philatelist (Rus. Phil.), 9 (July, 1967), 4.
"' Cercle Phil., URSS, priced these errors at from $3.00 to $10.00. At the auction held at the offices of Robert A.
Siegel in New York on January 9, 1965, a double impression of the rare brown orange shade brought $7.50 (lot
no. 904), while a double impression or the orange stamp, with one of the impressions inverted, brought $11.00
(lot no. 905). A collection of other printing errors, however, brought only $4.00 (lot. 903).
""Hartmann, Die eigentlichen Ausgaben, p. 4.
'"SL'Echo, 622 (November, 30, 1921), 1051.
"1Soviet Cat, nos. 15-18.
""Hartmann, Die eigentlichen Ausgaben, p. 4
'"Chuchin, "Spekuliyatsiya na golode RSFSR," Sov. Fi,, 2 (October, 1922), 18-19.
'"Verbitsky, "The Volga Famine Issue," Rus. Phil., 3 (February/March, 1963), 13-15.
1'Collection of Mr. Kurt Adler.
"1Arnold, Banks, Credit and Money, pp. 128-129.
14'Ibid., p. 137.
"4' Cercle Phil., URSS, pp. 26, 28.
'"Hartmann, Die eigentlichen Ausgamben, p. 4.
'3The figures for the overprints given by Hartmann, p. 4, are:
Red Overprint Black Overprint Total
5000 on 1 r. 224,500 949,500 1,174,000
5000 on 2 r. 228,450 955,400 1,183,850
5000 on 5 r. 230,000 935,000 1,165,000
5000 on 20 r. 220,440 879,960 1,100,000
Total 5000 r
10,000 on 40 r. 2,926,850 243,100 3,169,950
'"Collections of Kurt Adler, Norman Epstein, Asdrubal Prado, and author.
14Arnold, Banks, Credit and Money, p. 137.
046Hartmann, Die eigentlichen Ausgaben, p. 5; Chuchin, et. al., Katalog pochtovikh marok byvsh, rossiiskoi imperii,
RSFSR, SSSR na 1924 god (Moscow, Izdanie upolnomochennogo po filatelii v SSR, 1924), p. 120; Sklarevski,
Rossica, 67 (1964), 70. This overprint was executed quickly and sloppily from at least two major sets of plates.
The first set measured from 23 mm. to 23.5 mm, the second from 24 mm. to 24.5 mm. The overprints are
basically on the second and third printings of the 250 r. Soviet Cat., no. 35.
"1Chuchin et. al., Kat. 1924 god, p. 121; Hartmann, Die eigentlichen Ausgaben, p. 5.
'"Sklarevski, Rossica, 67 (1964), 70; Lissiuk, pp. 9, 12; Cercle Phil., URSS, p. 52; Clark, "Russia," nos. 188-191;
Boris Shishkin, Rossica, 72 (1967), 12; Chuchin, Kat. Grazh. Voina, pp. 116, 129.
'"Arnold, Banks, Credit and Money, pp. 128-129.
5'Ibid., p. 145.
""' Karlinskii, Rossica, 73 (1967), 70-71; Cercle Phil., URSS, pp. 26, 28.
""Chuchin et al. Kat. 1924 god, p. 121.
"Shishkin, Rossica, 72 (1967), 10.
'"5Cercle Phil., URSS, p. 52.
'sLloyd, Rossica, 67 (1964), 19; Shishkin, Rossica, 72 (1967), 10; L'Echo, 634 (May 31, 1922), 517; Vibert,
"The Chalk-Lines," Stanley Gibbons Monthly Journal, IV no. 10 (July, 1927), 232.
'"Cercle Phil., URSS, p. 52.
'"Stanley Gibbons Postage Stamp Catalogue, 1961, Part II, Europe (London, Stanley Gibbons, 1960), pp. 1082-
1085. Mr. Zarrins, who was a Latvian, eventually left the USSR and became a member of the Latvian staff for
whom he designed a set in 1928.
"*Julius F. Fohs, "Revised Summary of the Printing and Plates of Russian Arms Issue 1908-22, Part I, Characteris-
tics," BJRP, 29 (May, 1961), 58a-75; John Barry, "The Kerensky Stamps," BJRP, 3 (June, 1949), 44-45, iden-
tifies four sets of plates, while E.C. Peel, "The Kerensky Stamps," BJRP, 28 (Sept, 1960), 13-19, identifies only
two sets for the 35 k. and three sets for the 70 k. Andrew Cronin, "Prominent Retouch on 35 k. Arms Type,"
Rossica, 55 (1958), 33; Baron C. de Stackelberg, "A Retouch of the 10 Ruble Arms Type Stamp," Rossica,
55 (1958), 30-32. The reissue around 1922 of the 15 k. Arms Stamp is 16.8 x 23 mm. instead of 16.5 x 22.5 mm.
de Stackelberg, "A New Check List of the Arms Type Issue of 1909-23," Rossica, 58 (1960), 32.
"IV.A. Karlinskii, "An unusual size," Rossica, 72 (1967), 53-57.
""Cercle Phil., URSS., p. 52.
"'6 Collections of Kurt Adler, Norman Epstein, and author.
"1BJRP, 21 (December, 1956), 652. Since these stamps paid no postage, they were not listed in the 1955 Soviet
Sold in Rostov etc. Total printing
1000 r. rose 5,673 19,980
2000 r. green 5,400 39.960
4000 r. rose 2,376 17,760
6000 r. green 3,744 20,720
""Collections of Kurt Adler, Norman Epstein, Asdrubal Prado, and author. On June 3, 1922 an overweight registered
letter was sent from Moscow to Kunsdorf, Germany. The letter has the following stamps affixed: five 5 k. (250,000
rubles), two 250 r. (500 rubles), four 22,500 r. (90,000 rubles), two 1000 r. (2,000 rubles), two 2,250 r. charity
stamps (20,000 rubles), six 20 r. (120 rubles), ten 300 r. (30,000 rubles!), twenty-two 7500 r. on 250 r. (165,000
rubles), for a total of 557,720 rubles. Because the letter was obviously overweight by at least one unit, the correct
postage should have been 400,000 rubles plus 2,000,000 rubles for registration. It is possible that the six 20 r.
stamps were sold for 12,000 rubles, and the two 250 r. stamps for 5,000 rubles, and the two 1000 r. stamps for
20,000 rubles, which would bring the total to 592,000 rubles. But with this complicated mess, who had the time
'"Arnold, Banks, Credit and Money, pp. 129, 131, 144.
""Ibid., p. 148.
'"The airmail rate in August was 27 DR. Karlinskii, "Soviet Postal Rates," Rossica, 73 (1967), 72; Ibid., 74 (1968),
36; Cercle Phil., URSS, p. 28; Arnold, Banks, Credit and Money, p. 81. The Denznak rubles had first been intro-
duced in November, 1921, but they saw little service.
67Almost every cliche in the plate of the 10 r. was damaged. Edward F. Newman, "The 1917-1918 Ten Rouble: A
List of Plating Flaws," BJRP, 27 (March, 1960), 13-16.
""Collections of Kurt Adler, Norman Epstein, Asdrubal Prado, John Lloyd, and author. A registered letter left
Petrograd on July 21, 1922 for Bridgeport, Conn. with the following affixed: five 7 k. (350,000 rubles), two 2 k.
(40,000 rubles), one 1 r. (10,000 rubles) eighteen 250 r. + 250 r. charity stamps (450,000 rubles), and five
100 r. + 100 r. charity stamps (50,000 rubles). The postage, when one takes the time to add it up, was 900,000
rubles, which was correct to pay the 90 DR. rate.
'69Karlinskii, "Soviet Postal Rates," Rossica, 73 (1967), 71.
"17"While most mint copies of this set which one finds offered for sale are counterfeit, the envelope has never been
"171 Collections of Kurt Adler, Norman Epstein, Asdrubal Prade, and author. Riep (ed.), Die Sammlung... Scharfen-
berg, p. 79, item 1854, mentions fifteen 10 k. on 7 k. used on a letter from Moscow to Berlin on September 28,
1922, which was in excess of 60,000 rubles.
"1Arnold, Banks, Credit and Money, pp. 82, 129, 146.
'3 Karlinskii, Rossica, 74 (1968), 36.
"7See above footnote 166. I am not sure that Karlinskii and the Cercle Philatelique are correct in stating that the
change was ordered on the 25th. Both sources have used official government documents, yet I have registered
covers mailed from Petrograd to Tallinn and New York City on October 19 and October 20 which have the 150
DR. (75 DR. for postage and 75 DR. for registration) rate. A letter posted on October 19, in Odessa, however,
still used the 45 DR. rate. Was it possible that the change in rates were introduced in Petrograd before they were
introduced in the rest of the RSFSR?
17'Karlinskii, Rossica, 74 (1968), 37.
"76Verbitsky, Rus. Phil., 9 (July, 1967), 8-9; Cercle Phil., URSS, lists the forged stamp as number 169 III, with a
value of $0.00. Counterfeiters, both in and out of the RSFSR, have had a field day overprinting 100,000 r. on
all sorts of stamps. For the condition of the plate of the original 250 r. stamp at this time see Andrew Cronin,
"An Interesting Soviet Retouch," BJRP, 5 (January, 1951), 88-89.
"'The stamps depicted modes of transportation: Boat (4,000,000 copies), Train (10,000,000), Car (5,000,000),
and Plane (1,000,000 copies). Hartmann, Die eigentlichen Ausgaben, p. 6.
"17Chuchin, et al., Kat 1924 god, p. 123.
""Sov. Fil., 3-4 (March/April, 1923), 7.
'"On November 28, 1922, the Soviet government had introduced notes of 1, 2, 3, 5, 10, 25, and 50 chervontsy.
One chervonets equalled 10 gold Tsarist rubles, which equalled, approximately, 117 million 1921 rubles, or
11,700 Denznak rubles. Notes of this size, initially, played no role in normal domestic commerce. The Soviet
government, furthermore, set no rate of exchange between the paper rubles and the chervonets. In fact, the
new currency was not considered legal tender. Arnold, Banks, Credit and Money, pp. 129, 175, 181.
""8' Karlinskii, Rossica, 74 (1968), 38.
"83Sov. Fil., 1-2 (January/February, 1923), 32.
""Collections of Asdrubal Prado, Norman Epstein, and Kurt Adler.
'8Arnold, Banks, Credit and Money, pp. 129, 181.
'"Karlinskii, Rossica, 74 (1968), 38-39.
"sThe 50 DR. and the 100 DR. were released in December, while the 10 DR. and the 70 DR. were issued in
February 1923. The printing was quite large: 10 DR. (21,625,000), 50 DR. (29,500,000), 70 DR. (9,700,000),
100 DR. (61,400,000). Chuchin et al., Kat... 1924 god, pp. 128-129.
"" Karlinskii, Rossica, 74 (1968), 39.
""Rosselevitch, "1922-23 Surcharges," Rus. Phil., 7 (December, 1965), 22. From the time of the occupation of
Tiflis by General Budeney in February 1921, until June 1923, the so-called Georgian Soviet Republic had used
locally printed stamps. By the summer of 1923 the supply of these stamps had become exhausted and a supply
of 15 k. Arms stamps was sent to Batum where they were used either without an overprint, or handstamped
15,000 r. S.D.T. (Tchilinghirian), "The Stamps of Soviet Georgia," Stanley Gibbons Monthly Journal, II, no. 6
(March, 1925), 126-128.
""Collection of Mr. Kurt Adler.
"1Arnold, Banks, Credit and Money, pp. 184, 186.
'1Karlinskii, Rossica, 74 (1968), 40-41.
""Collections of Mr. Norman Epstein, and author.
'Arnold, Banks, Credit and Money, pp. 184, 186.
"*Karlinskii, Rossica, 74 (1968), 43-44.
""Cercle Phil., URSS, p. 29.
""Arnold, Banks, Credit and Money, pp. 184, 186.
'"Collections of Kurt Adler, Norman Epstein, Andrew Cronin, Vsevelod Popov, and author.
""Arnold, Banks, Credit and Money, pp. 184, 186.
"aolbid., p. 213.
20' Ibid., p. 232.
EDITORIAL COMMENT: Dr. Shneidman's study is thought-provoking, to say the least. We would welcome im-
pressions, additional notes and comments from our members interested in this period.
AN EARLY SEAL FROM THE RUSSIAN CLOISTER
OF ST. PANTELEIMON AT MOUNT ATHOS.
by Aimilios D. Xanthopoulos
(Ex-President, Hellenic Philatelic Society of America)
4 ? ^ ; ... ."" .. "
r& f I
1 :. ,.. "," 21L L "" .
,fr/m 7 w'w/--/ ;
The illustration herewith shows a document which has recently come into my possession. It consists of a sheet of
hand-made paper, measuring 142 x 211 mm, at the top of which there is a circular cachet, struck in black and with
a diameter of 42 mm. The Greek inscription between the two circles reads as follows: "SEAL OF THE SACRED
CLOISTER OF THE RUSSIANS 1805." In the centre there is another Greek inscription reading "THE SAINT
PANTELEIMON," together with a representation of this holy man, the patron saint of what was the only Russian
monastery on Mount Athos. For further details about the Russians at Mount Athos, please see Rossica No. 70,
pp. 9-12 for my article "Russian Mail to the Monastic Cell of St. John Chrysostomos."
The handwritten text of the present document is in excellent Greek and translates as follows:
"By the present sealed letter, it is declared that the person bearing the present (document), Father Gennades, is from
our sacred Russian cloister and ordained in the proper manner, and a minister, and be not suspicious, and (he is)
completely acceptable, as vested with virtue and a sufficient degree of accomplishments; for (this) fact the present
is also as evidence: 1821 December 21; the Fathers all together of the sacred Russian cloister."
In other words, this was a letter used by Father Gennades for his safe conduct in travelling.
It can be seen from the foregoing that the seal was in use for at least 16 years after its original manufacture. I am
recording it here as it is possible that the seal was used as a postal marking on early mail originating from the
Russian monks at Mount Athos. Any further information on its usage would be greatly appreciated and will help
to add to our knowledge of the postal services in operation on the Holy Mount.
THE RUSSIAN POSTAL AGENCIES IN THE DOBRUDJA DURING 1877-1878
by D.N. Minchev
The first crossing of the Danube by the Russian armies during the Russo-Turkish war of 1877-78 took place for
tactical reasons in the north-western section of the Dobrudja three days before the main forcing of the river between
Zimnicea and Svishtov (Sistov). On 11/23 June 1877, the city of Macin was taken, on the following day Cernavoda
fell and on 14/26 of the same month the Russian forces entered Isaccea and Tulcea. Two days later, they also
occupied Babadag. At the same time, the settlement of Mahmudiye (now Mahmudia), lying on the Sf. Gheorghe
arm of the Danube, was taken. The then small Black Sea port of Kustendje (renamed Constanta in 1898) welcomed
the Russians on 3/15 June 1877 almost simultaneously with Megidie and Murfatlar, lying on the Kustendje-Cernavoda
We have discovered details about the opening of Russian military and civilian post offices in the Dobrudja mainly
from the Bulgarian newspaper "B'lgarin," issued at that time in Bucharest, from the regional letters Nov. 1618 of
9 Nov. 1878 of the Postal Administration in Bulgaria and No. 11984 of 28 November 1878 of the Fieldpost Ser-
vice, as well as from other official documents. Unfortunately, we have not had the opportunity for the moment to
verify the documents included in a folder entitled "File of the Civilian Administration in the sandjak (province) of
Tulcea regarding the establishment of the Posts in 1877-78," since they were found to be in very poor condition
and are in the process of being restored. There is no doubt that we will be able to find out some more interesting
information and details in the folder just mentioned that would shed more light on the question that concerns us.
This we will do at the first chance we have.
At the outset, telegraphic communications were established between Tulcea and its oppostie partner, the city of
Izmail in Bessarabia. This becomes apparent in letter No. 1101 of 10 Dec. 1877 of the Russian Civilian Administra-
tion in the Sandjak of Tulcea, addressed to the Commander-in-Chief of the army on active service. In letter
No. 1102 of the same date and again from the same Administration, we see that the telegraphic office at Tulcea had
already been opened by June 1877. From the draft of an undated "Otchet" (Report), which according to us is
from about the end of 1877, the existence of telegraphic communications is mentioned between the following
points: Izmail to Tulcea, Tulcea to Babadag, Babadag to Kustendje, Tulcea to Mahmudia and Tulcea to Isaccea,
with a total length of 249 versts (166 miles) of lines.
The newspaper "B'lgarin" in issue No. 9 for 5 Nov. 1877 inserted the following notice in its news items: "It is
announced from the Administration of Military Mails and Telegraphs that the telegraphic agencies at Pordim, Bokhot,
Murfatlar, Mahmudia and Megidie are also open for private correspondence." Of these five offices, the first two are
situated near Pleven in Bulgaria and the remaining three, as we have already said, in the Dobrudja. Their opening
most likely took place during the second half of October 1877.
There are very interesting details in regional letter No. 1618 for 9 Nov. 1878 of the "Postal Administration in
Bulgaria," then situated in Adrianople and addressed to some of the more important post offices in Bulgaria. From
this letter, it can be deduced that the armies now had a quite stable location, enabling us to pin down their places of
stay to specific inhabited points. From this particular regional circular, we find out that the 3rd. and 5th. fieldpost
agencies were situated at Megidie and Tulcea respectively. They accepted and handed out ordinary mail, while there
were mail collecting points only at Kustendje and Cernavoda, which were under the control of the 3rd. agency at
Megidie. In regional letter No. 11984 for 28 Nov. 1878 of the Fieldpost Office at Adrianople, circulated to field and
"local" offices, i.e., civilian post offices in Bulgaria, it is indicated, among other things, that the correspondence des-
tined for the 5th. fieldpost agency at Tulcea should be directed to the 1st. agency at Ruse, which latter would in turn
forward it to Tulcea.
From the regional letter No. 1618 noted above from Adrianople, we ascertain that the 6th. fieldpost agency was situ-
ated at Khadzhi-Oglu-Bazardzhik (now the town of Tolbukhin) and the 9th. at Silistra. At the same time, the Civilian
Administration took pains to establish and maintain regular postal communications also in the Southern Dobrudja,
specifically between Balchik, Khadzhi-Oglu-Bazardzhik and Mangalia with Varna. Letter No. 706 of 29 Sept. 1878
from Kishel'skii, the governor of Varna, to the office of internal affairs attached to the Administration of the Imperial
Russian Commissar, informs us about this matter.
The mail handed in at all the above-named agencies of the Fieldpost Service bore the corresponding numbered post-
marks of these places. Regarding the amil collecting points noted above, they did not have cancellers at their disposal.
The mail forwarded by them was cancelled with the postmarkers of the agencies by which they were controlled.
As has already been seen, the fieldpost agencies also placed their services at the disposal of the local population. We
still do not have concrete data for the existence in the Northern Dobrudja of purely civilian post offices.
We consider it appropriate to quote from yet another interesting document, linked with the postal affairs in the Dobrudja
at that time. This is in the form of a telegram No. 763 from the governor of Tulcea, Ivan Vasil'evich Belotserkovskii,
and sent to Prince Cherkasskii, then stationed at the GHQ in Gabrovo. It was entered at the office of the Civilian Ad-
ministration under receipt No. 26 for 8 Jan. 1878. There is a mention in it that the Austrian Postal Service in the
Dobrudja intended to reopen its routes between Tulcea and Kustendje and Belotserkovskii wanted an appropriate
directive about the matter. The great interest of the Austrian Postal Service in restoring its activities, which had been
interrupted by the war, in the shortest possible time is evident from this telegram. This despite the fact that military
activities were still going on in full swing. We cannot say what the reply was to this telegram, as the documents relating
to the matter are missing.
EDITORIAL COMMENT: The above is the first in a new series of articles that Mr. Minchev is writing for us, based on
a wonderful find by him of an archive relating to the Russian Posts in Bulgaria over the period from 1877 to 1879 and
containing more than 11,000 letters and documents.
From the material examined by Mr. Minchev, it has become apparent that there was only one Fieldpost Office operated
by the Russian Armies during the Russo-Turkish War and subsequent transition period, namely Fieldpost Office No. 1.
This office had a number of Fieldpost Agencies under its control, as we ourselves had already surmized from the mark-
ings so far recorded in previous issues of our Journal.
We can now tabulate the information given by Mr. Minchev in the above article to show the situation obtaining in
November 1878, as follows:
Office designation Present Location Source
Fieldpost Office No. 1 Adrianople, Turkey Regional letter No. 1618.
Fieldpost Agency No. 1 Ruse, Bulgaria Regional letter No. 11984.
Fieldpost Agency No. 3 Megidie, Roumania Regional letter No. 1618.
Fieldpost Office No. 5 Tulcea, Roumania Regional letter No. 1618.
Fieldpost Agency No. 6 Khadzhi-Oglu-Bazardzhik, Regional letter No. 1618.
renamed Dobritch and now
Fieldpost Agency No. 9 Silistra, Bulgaria Regional letter No. 1618.
by A. Cronin
Voldemar V. Tarasov, or Tarasoff, as he wrote his surname in Latin characters, was a keen collector of stamps and
view cards, originally operating from, of all places, Solombala near Archangel. He was either a printer, or had some
knowledge of that trade, which he utilized to publish the periodical "Severnaya Korrespondentsiya" ("Northern
Correspondence") at intervals from 1917 to 1922. It was mainly printed in Russian, with some notes in English.
His name has a place in Soviet postal history because of a series of exchange requests he sent abroad. The earliest
example seen by the author is in the form of an invalid 5 kop. postcard of the Provisional Government, sent by
registered mail from Solombala 11 Dec. 1920 to Bohemia with 7 kop. postage added (i.e., now 7 rubles). On the
back he had printed the request shown at left in Fig. 1, adding a handstamp at right to show that he was a member
of five different exchange clubs.
By 8 May 1921, he had got around to overprinting the invalid 5 kop. cards with the initials "R.S.F.S.R." on the
eagle and stamp design, a registration indication in French and Russian at top centre, and at left, a list of exchange
offers in English (see Fig. 2). On the back there is now a more elaborate printed request in English (Fig. 3).
Despite the registration request, the card was sent by ordinary mail to Czechoslovakia and the rate paid was 4 rubles.
On the 4th. of the next month, he sent a registered letter to Canada (now in the Edward J. Wisewell collection), the
rate being 10 rubles and he placed an oblong cachet at top left reading "Exchange Stamps and cards/V.V. TARASOFF/
Archangel Solombal" (Fig. 4). On 11 June he sent out a modified 5 kop. card by registered mail to Berlin, with
the "R.S.F.S.R." overprints but lacking the exchange offers at left. The printed request in English on the back
remained unchanged. The total rate came to 10 rubles.
A later registered usage of this altered setting was sent on 30 Aug. 1921 to Gumbinnen in East Prussia. Once again
the total rate was 10 rubles. The recording of all these international tariffs is important as it helps to answer some
of the questions raised by V.A. Karlinskii in his fine study of Soviet postal rates.
Seven years go by and he has now moved to Leningrad. From there he sent a private postcard with 2 kop. printed
matter rate added on 17 Apr. 1928 to a collector in Boyertown, Pa. (Fig. 5). On the back there is a comprehensive
exchange request in Engl sh, followed by a Russian imprint at bottom, stating that the card was issued by the State
philatelic store in Leningrad, presumably to his order, in an edition of 2000 copies (Fig. 6). He obviously hoped to
do a lot of exchanging.
The final example seen is dated nine years later on 14 July 1937. He was still in Leningrad, but he now utilized an
oval handstamp in violet to give his address in English on a picture postcard, stamped view side with a 10 kop.
commem. paying the printed matter rate to a collector in New Zealand (Fig. 7).
He was probably responsible for other types of printed requests and it would be useful to have details of them. His
"R.S.F.S.R." overprints made in 1921 on the invalid 5 kop. postcards were, of course, unofficial, but they are inter-
esting historical souvenirs of the early Soviet period.
DUMONT STAMP SHOP IF YOU ARE NOT UP TO DATE
907 7th Avenue
New York, New York 10019 ON RUSSIA
757-4753 STATES OFFICES COLONIES
WE ARE !!
Among the many Stamp Shops in the U. S. A. we can
boast of one of the finer stocks of Russian material.
LARGE STOCK OF
Want Lists will be given special attention. POSTAL STATIONERY & COVERS AND
ODD AND UNUSUAL ITEMS
WANT LISTS INVITED.....
We are always available to act as Buyer, Seller or WANT LISTS INVITED
Agent for serious collectors.
MARVIN S. PEHR
P.O. Box 3012 Ocean View Br.
Miami Beach Florida 33140
Special Consideration for
Rossica Members "A DEALER YOU CAN BELIEVE IN"
VOLDEMAR TARASOFF 1 '
"TARASOVIANA" Solombal-Archangel -
by A. Cronin RUSSIA. -
The MEMBER of universal
clubs of the exchange stamps .
S^- .6 aund ost-cards.
Fig. 1 I avire a good stock,..! Q. ,/ -r!
Exci nge: KsRussian stamps* espec.
ei u ally those issued during *-
.the War for excha gc- with collectors
il over the.world. Send me vour '
-. .,.duplicates hiwany quantity.._
For 1000 common mixed foreign stamps /
I give 75 different of Russia.
For 12 view yards stamped on. view side
(address side soused) give 50 different po. | 4 e
stage stamps of Russia. .. /
\ For stamp sendlags catalogued Mk: 1000 I
or Fr: 1000 give three times catalogue value Fig. 2
in Ruislan "ta.ps.
All correspondence registered. Constant
Voldemar Tarasoff. ... .
Archangel. Solombals. Russia, NC. Nol. i
I OLbetMR TARASOf.
RRC RINIGEL-50LOMBRLA- RU5S51.
Archangel ... .. 192T
If you wish to complete yr"r col' -tion by russian
Fig. 3 HI stamps. send me a gOJd choice of stamp: of your an"I other
countr2e. taxing it by one of the stamp-cutalogues, and you
Swill receive. nil russian stamp news as. inmperforated from
jr 1 Cop. go 10 Ruil-s. Sovetsky Rissia 35 & 70 Cop., Ucrania,
Don, Cuhan, Cn,, Batn., Latvia. Cstonia and Finland-
N I Always son reply and t;H full guarantee of exchange. B-a" is
Catalog Yvert, Michel, SW and Scott 1921 also by agreement
My corstant address is: V. V. TARASOFF, ARCIIANGEL-
i' 7/:ours truly .
r ---, -
S. Fig. 4
0 4t V r A r
(' /P^t^ie -,t,1Lz" -53- _______
16, Prospect 25"' of October, LENIiGRAD, U.S.S.R.
r -rr r. .- -r -r rr -- .. .. .- r e "TARASOVIANA"
by A. Cronin
nELATHOE ; .
S............................................................... ..... .. .................. F ig. 5
..... ..I ........3. .....5 .. .Phi lad.pbpia.... Ave................
S .............. .... ....................................... ......... B..ys r t o w ., P a .. .................. .......... .......... :.. ",
... Boy er town, Pa. *.... .T
S ....... ..f .. ..... ........................ ............ .. ... A ............. ............. :
Exchange of postage stamps for collectiotis
WOLDEMRR TlRRSOFF, 16, Prospect 25-th of October, Leningrad, U.S.S.R.
Member of U.S.C.E. 3855
If you have the intention of filling up your collection profitably with stamped
and clean postage stamps of old and Soviet Russia by the way of buying and exchan-
ging, then on, having this proposal send me some stamps of your country especially
those lately issued no more than 10 of each kind.
1 take the above mentioned stamps in sending for the amount of 300 francs by
Fig. 6 the catalogue Ivert, of 1928. -
"FOR ONE AMERIKAN DOLLAR J can send you:
100 different postage stamps of old Russia, either
100 different postage stamps of Soviet Russia, or
25 different views of LENINGRAD with a stamp on the view-side.
For 50 artistic post cards (types :of people, screen-artists, sports, beauties etc)
sent in two registered letters, I send 150 different postage stamps of old and Soviet
Russia. For 25 post cards-20 views of Leningrad.
You can be a subscriber of the journal .SOVIET PHILATELIST" which subscription
cost either TWO (2) american DOLLARS or 100 artistic post cards (of the mentioned above)
sent in 4 registered letters. Any number can be sent for 12 post cards.
-- m .. 1.1 .---- I beg to send all stamps and post cards only in registered letters.
1. Post cards are to be addressed to WOLDEMAR TfARSOFF, 16, Prospect 25-th of Octo-
"A! *ber. LENINGRFD. U.S.S.R.
2. Letters containing stamps Into: ,,SOVIET PHILRTELIC ASSOCIATION" 3, 1-st Tverskaja-
I'' "Jamskaja, MOSKOW, U.S.S.R. for W. Tarasoff, Leningrad.
r Looking forward to your answer
Yos t l Woldemar TARASOFF
SIm roc. nar. MapIO H 6oH THpam 2000 sK3. THn. 3. -MMTpHeaa neHHHrpaA, yn. repnesa, 11
1 i-Fig. 7
SLE T. O BFA'X MS WtROS OF I \ RjXOLI TiiN ...
1 : IRTS DL LA MI RAII.I.E D' -IMIN
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KPEI.r Bct,. ( fbl.f
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.|1924 r.. .upa CeiiTm CI c (f iu nal;lit xp(... :. F.6. X. 38290. 10000 'wa. Mo am 1929.
S'-. 2-.. .. -54--
;- I .i- r-- ,l- B ) 1 --
hE -j a -
Baa.,,,- ntasao.rii .eumlma. nocr'oeuenibifl a4a8.. Illl\cefnlui
SB.1924 rfg.lpa.a Ieirc.a ~,n~c Cn ciiura Bamiiih KrfM.n. ?'} A >f'l, 1 f 38290. 10000 3K.. .IocKa. 1929.
nocy~,ptrB.vK,nslit fLO.1t. 1CeHi .\Tp8CeH-6.IbBap r o 3r' ro3IAK. ,MuHafna,. C.
1' .' HICHa B 0on.
by B.A. Evans
'RUSSIA'S PROTECTORATES IN CENTRAL ASIA: BUKHARA AND KHIVA 1865-1924' by Seymour Becker,
Harvard University Press. 1968.
This 416 page volume provides an abundance of background material for collectors interested in the postal history
of Bukhara and Khiva. Although adding little to our direct knowledge of the postal system, it provides a detailed
and scholarly survey of the economic, social and political development of the two Khanates between 1865 and 1924.
It is certainly an indispensable addition to the library of the postal historian claiming to specialise in these territories.
Having read this book, the reviewer is inclined to challenge the widely accepted view, expressed by Tchilinghirian
and Stephen in Part 3 of their handbook 'Stamps of the Russian Empire Used Abroad,' that "Russian or USSR
stamps used (in Bukhara and Khiva) after 1920 can no longer be considered as Used Abroad." In the period from
1920 to March 1923 the status of the two territories appears to have been closer to that of the "People's Republic
of Tannu-Tuva" than to the Soviet Republics of Azerbaijan, Belorussia, Ukraine, etc.
Becker, writing about the formal treaty relations entered into in 1920-1921 between the RSFSR and the Bukharan
and Khorezmi (Khivan) Peoples Soviet Republics, states:
"Whereas the other republics (Azerbaijan, Belorussia, Ukraine, etc.) ceded to the RSFSR full authority
over the commissariats of war, supply, finance, and transportation and communications, as well as all
organs of domestic and foreign trade, the Bukharan and Khorezmi republics retained some control in
these areas. Their privileged status was due in part to their unique historical experience as self-governing
protectorates under the tsars and to the problems thus posed for their integration into the Russian body
5 politic." (page 298)
Further, Becker adds:
"In recognition of the full independence of Khorezm and Bukhara, Moscow abrogated all treaties and
agreements concluded with the khans and emirs by former Russian governments and renounced all of
Russia's former rights in the two states. All property, land concessions, and rights of usage formerly
held in the khanates by the Russian government, Russian nationals, or Russian business firms were
turned over without compensation to the governments of the people's republics. Moscow handed over
to a joint Khorezmi-Bukharan authority the steamboats and barges of the Amu-Darya Flotilla, also
without compensation, and returned to full Bukharan jurisdiction the four Russian settlements held
as enclaves since the 1880's." (page 299)
The real change in the political status of the territories came not in 1920 but in March 1923. Shortly afterwards
they lost their separate political identity and their territory was incorporated into the USSR in 1924.
"In March 1923 the Central Asian Economic Council, which had been recommended a year earlier by
the Turkestan Commission, was established. Khorezm and Bukhara agreed to merge their economic
planning, postal and telegraph systems, and foreign trade activities with those of Soviet Turkestan, to
adopt the monetary system of the USSR, and to place their transportation systems under the RSFSR
Commissariat for Communications." (page 308)
Should we not regard March 1923 as the watershed? Would it not be more accurate to regard Russian stamps, both
those of Imperial Russia and the RSFSR, used in the area up to this date as still being 'Used Abroad?'
EDITORIAL COMMENT: To support the points made by Mr. Evans, please see Figs. 1 & 2 for a registered cover
sent from Staraya Bukhara 27.10.21 via Moscow 5th. Despatch Office 11.11.21 (Fig. 2) and Moscow three triangles
12.12.21 (Fig. 1) to Zurich 20.11.21. The total time taken was 24 days, which was excellent considering the dis-
tance and means of communication involved. The flap bears a two-line Russian handwritten notation in red ink
reading "postal rate levied 200 r./ptr. Ivanov." The abbreviation "ptr" stands for "pochtmeister" the official
designation for a postmaster. The common Russian expression is "nachal'nik pochty" (master of the post). The
period of usage is well within the extended used abroad period for Bukhara as discovered by Mr. Evans.
The second cover, from the Kurt Adler collection, is shown in Fig. 3. It demonstrates the carried-over usage of the
old Tsarist postmarker for Khiva in the Khivan Khanate, this time utilized on 5.11.25, i.e., well after its incorpora-
tion in the USSR in March 1923. The letter was sent from Samarkand without postage and the Khiva marking
therefore cancels 14 kop. in postage due stamps, i.e., double the deficiency for an unfranked cover.
Our members are urged to keep a sharp lookout for other interesting items which fall into this transition period.
NORTHERN UNDERGROUND: EPISODES OF RUSSIAN REVOLUTIONARY TRANSPORT & COMMUNI-
CATIONS THROUGH SCANDINAVIA & FINLAND 1863-1917 by Michael Futrell. Faber & Faber 1963.
Postal historians have already started to unravel some of the problems associated with Imperial Russian postal
censorship during wartime. In BJRP 43, Dr. Ceresa also makes an important contribution to our understanding of
postal censorship as it operated under the early Soviet regime. However, our knowledge of Russian postal censor-
ship during peace-time is virtually non-existant. (For one of the few references see the article on Petrograd Postal
Censorship in BJRP 42.)
Dr. Futrell has written a fascinating account of the ingenious methods employed by revolutionaries to smuggle
people, arms, literature and letters into Imperial Russia. There are several references of interest to postal histor-
ians. It is clear that the Okhrana, the Tsarist Secret Police, intercepted and examined many letters sent, not only
through the postal 'underground' but also via the normal postal channels.
The author describes the method employed to distribute the Bolshevik paper 'Proletary':
"a direct postal service by way of Copenhagen flourished during 1908-9. Recently published letters of
Lenin's wife Krupskaya to the Bolshevik M. Kobetskii, who settled in Copenhagen in 1908 and began
operations there, are impressive evidence of what could be done even in this time of depression for
revolutionaries. In a period of about a year, the paper 'proletary' was sent by way of Copenhagen to
84 addresses in fifty-six places in Russia, and during a period of three or four months nearly 4,000 copies
The newspaper went by post from Copenhagen to Russia. It was wrapped in paper covered with writing
and then put in an envelope, together with a note from the editor, apologising to the recipient for using
his address ('learnt by chance') without permission, in order to safeguard him if the missive fell into the
hands of the police.
Krupskaya's letters, written between October 1908 and November 1909, contained detailed instructions
to Kobetskii. He must not post the letters all together, but spread the posting over several days in sev-
eral posting-boxes; use different kinds of envelopes, and if possible different handwriting." (pages 63-64)
In her letters to Kobetskii, Krupskaya stated, "Correspondence to Paris is examined particularly closely by the
Russian police" (page 64) and "letters arriving in Finland from Paris via Stockholm are all opened" (page 65). If
this was the case then it should be possible to locate covers of this period, which show some evidence of having
been opened and then re-sealed.
Dr. Futrell makes it clear that although the law on censorship was different in Russia proper and Russian Finland,
examination of the mail took place in both countries:
"Towards the end of 1902, pressure was put on Finnish postal officials to open suspected letters.
According to Finnish law, this was illegal. In a letter quoted in Zilliacus's paper 'Fria Ord,' the head
of the Finnish postal service summed up his standpoint:
'That which is a crime according to law cannot by an administrative measure be transformed into a
justified action. To introduce the opening of letters by the Finnish post office, a law passed in the
required way is necessary. The procedure which applies in Russia can be no guidance for procedure in
Finland, whose laws are changed in accordance with other principles than those of Russia.'
But this postal director was compelled to resign, and replaced by one less steadfast. Finnish officials
were in a difficult position; Russian pressure was steadily intensified, and not all could be expected to
sacrifice career and livelihood." (page 54)
One of the illustrations in the book has particular interest for the postal historian. It is a photograph of the old
wooden foot-bridge connecting Tornea in Finland with Haparanda in Sweden. Across this bridge passed a large
proportion of the mail between Russia and the outside world, during the First World War.
REVIEWS, by B.A. Evans
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We are breaking up a large T U V A
specialized collection of 1943-Typo-printed in Kizie. St.
EMPIRE-SOVIET (up to 1945) Gibbons 1970 #134/37 ........ ..........
o o o o o (See ROSSICA most interesting article by Mr. A.
Cronin published a few years ago.)
On hand a large selection
On hand a large selection ARMS-25k, SLATE BLUE, one horizontal
Accumulation of 40 years .. perforation (134) ................................. 2.50
ERRORS, COVERS, UNLISTED VARIETIES, Incl. do-2 horiz. perform. ................................. 1.50
Offices China, Levant do-strips of 5 ........................................ 29.50
Armies, Far East. Armenia, 25k BLACK with gum (135), one
Georgia, Azerbaydjan, Latvia, Lithuania, etc., etc. horizontal perforation .............................. 3.00
do-2 horiz. perform. ................................ 5.00
o o o o o o do-strip of 5, scarce ............................ P.O.R.
We will gladly make approvals (many were disintegrated)
to a specialist. No obligations. 25k GREEN, scarce (136) ..................... 25.00
Attractive Prices Convenient Terms. BUILDING-50k GREEN (137) ................. 25.00
(Stamps were printed one by one, using rather poor
0ooo o o quality available paper. Some were hand painted with
We are paying TOP prices gum. 25k green, 50k green, were printed in vertical
for scarce or rare varieties, collections. pairs together.
covers (incl. ZEMSTVO) etc. Offers subject to prior sale!
We will pay Top Prices for used or on cover.
SCARCE PRE WAR ISSUES Z EMSTVO
We are breaking up a large collection including
R's and Covers.
1925-Academy, without wtmk.
perforate (326/7) ........................................ 50.00 Sorry no WANT LIST service individual approval
1927-Esperanto (374)................................ 40.00 selections. Please give preferred Districts. Our stock
1934-Mausoleum (525) ............................... 30.00 is arranged according to Schmidt catalog.
Feodorov, 40k (530a) ............... ... 60.00
1935-France, 2k (580).............................. 60.00
Bauman, 4k (581) ........ ............ ....... 30.00
do-light violet .................................. 40.00
1936-Papanin (646) ................................. 60.00 Introductory special offer 44
Pairs pro rata some also available used different unused .............................. $22.00
P.O.R. subject to prior sale.
WE ACCEPT U.S. Postage at face. (No Spec. Del.)
S. SEREBRAKIAN, Inc.
P. O. BOX 448
MONROE, NEW YORK 10950