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|Honored members, officers, and...|
|Life of the society by Gordon...|
|Minutes of the 1988 annual meeting...|
|The postage stamps of Siberia by...|
|Japan's fieldpost in the Siberian...|
|The Nikolaevsk affair by Ivo...|
|Civil War in Siberia and the Far...|
|Souvenirs from Siberia 1914-1920...|
|Six months in Siberia by Ivo...|
|Those little flying boats by Patrick...|
|Library acquisitions by David...|
|Anniversary of the Russian scout...|
|The locally made Borovichi Zemstvo...|
|Notes for collectors|
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Table of Contents
Honored members, officers, and representatives of the society
Life of the society by Gordon Torrey
Minutes of the 1988 annual meeting by Kennedy Wilson
The postage stamps of Siberia by Ivo Steyn
Japan's fieldpost in the Siberian intervention, 1918-22 by Edward Rasmussen
The Nikolaevsk affair by Ivo Steyn
Civil War in Siberia and the Far East in the mirror of philately (1917-1923) by S. M. Blekhman, translated by George Shalimoff
Souvenirs from Siberia 1914-1920 by Ivo Steyn
Six months in Siberia by Ivo Steyn
Those little flying boats by Patrick J. Campbell
Library acquisitions by David Skipton
Anniversary of the Russian scout post by R. Polchaninoff
The locally made Borovichi Zemstvo stamp by M. Minskiy, translated by Richard Dallair
Notes for collectors
No. 11 1988
The Journal of the
Rossica Society of Russian Philately
THE JOURNAL OF THE
ROSSICA SOCIETY OF RUSSIAN PHILATELY
No. 111 for 1988
MANAGING EDITOR & PUBLISHER: Kennedy L. Wilson
EDITORIAL BOARD: George Shalimoff, Ivo Steyn,
Howard Weinert, Gordon Torrey
TABLE OF CONTENTS
LIFE OF THE SOCIETY, Gordon Torrey .............................. 3
MINUTES OF THE 1988 ANNUAL MEETING, Kennedy Wilson .............. 5
THE POSTAGE STAMPS OF SIBERIA, Ivo Steyn ....................... 9
JAPAN'S FIELDPOST IN THE SIBERIAN INTERVENTION, 1918-22,
Edward Rasmussen ............ ............................ 24
S THE NIKOLAEVSK AFFAIR, Ivo Steyn .............................. 41
CIVIL WAR IN SIBERIA AND THE FAR EAST IN THE MIRROR OF
PHILATELY (1917-1923), S. M. Blekhman,
translated by George Shalimoff ........................... 52
SOUVENIRS FROM SIBERIA 1914-1920, Ivo Steyn ................... 58
SIX MONTHS IN SIBERIA, Ivo Steyn ............................... 62
THOSE LITTLE FLYING BOATS, Patrick J. Campbell ................ 66
LIBRARY ACQUISITIONS, David Skipton ............................ 70
ADLETS ...... ....... ............................................ 72
ANNIVERSARY OF THE RUSSIAN SCOUT POST, R. Polchaninoff ......... 73
THE LOCALLY MADE BOROVICHI ZEMSTVO STAMP, by M. Minskiy,
translated by Richard Dallair ............................ 78
NOTES FOR COLLECTORS ........................................... 83
ROSSICA BOOKSHELF .............. ............................. 92
Joseph Chudoba Constantine de Stackelberg
OFFICERS OF THE SOCIETY
PRESIDENT: Gordon Torrey, 5118 Duvall Drive, Bethesda MD 20016
VICE PRESIDENT: George Shalimoff, 20 Westgate Dr., S.F., CA 94127
SECRETARY: Kennedy Wilson, 7415 Venice St., Falls Church, VA 22043
TREASURER: Norman Epstein, 33 Crooke Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11226
LIBRARIAN: David Skipton, 50-D Ridge Road, Greenbelt, MD 20770
AUDITOR: Leon Finik, P.O. Box 521, Rego Park, NY 11374
BOARD OF DIRECTORS:
Raymond Ceresa, Pepys Cottage, 13 High Street,
Cottenham, Cambridge, England CB4 4SA
Lester Glass, 1553 So. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90035
Alex Sadovnikov, P.O. Box 612, San Carlos, CA 94070
REPRESENTATIVES OF THE SOCIETY
WASHINGTON-BALTIMORE: Gordon Torrey, 5118 Duvall Drive,
Bethesda, MD 20016
NO. CALIFORNIA: George Shalimoff, 20 Westgate Dr., S.F., CA 94127
MIDWEST CHAPTER: James Mazepa, P.O. Box 1217, Oak Park, IL 60304
GREAT BRITAIN: Raymond Ceresa, Pepys Cottage, 13 High Street,
Cottenham, Cambridge, England CB4 4SA
Anything in this Journal may be reproduced without permission.
However, acknowledgement of the source and a copy of the reprinted
matter would be appreciated. The views in this Journal expressed
by the authors are their own and the editors disclaim all
The membership dues are $20.00, due on January 1st for all members.
Application forms are available upon request from the secretary or
treasurer. Membership lists will be sent annually. Kindly make
all checks payable to:
ROSSICA SOCIETY OF RUSSIAN PHILATELY
c/o Norman Epstein, 33 Crooke Avenue,
Brooklyn, New York 11226 USA
We have a number of back issues of the Journal for sale, both in
English and Russian language editions (some). These may be
obtained from Mr. Wilson.
The Rossica Society
ROSSICA 111 1988 Page 3
LIFE OF THE SOCIETY
by Gordon Torrey
Rossica's annual meeting was changed from the customary late
August at BALPEX (Baltimore, Maryland) to late spring at NAPEX (May
28-30) held in northern Virginia near Washington, D.C. This was
done to accommodate the President because he is planning to attend
PRAGA 88, which is being held at the same time as BALPEX. However,
there will be an informal meeting of the Washington Chapter at
BALPEX. Members may contact our secretary, treasurer or librarian
As you will notice in the account of the annual meeting held
at NAPEX, our constitution has been amended and the election of
officers has been carried out.
Two of our members exhibited and won gold medals at NAPEX and
I participated as a member of the jury, headed by American
Philatelic Society President Burton F Sellers. David Skipton's
"Postal Censorship in Imperial Russia" garnered the Reserve Grand
Award and the APRS Research Medal. G. Adolph Ackerman also won the
American Airmail Society Medal for his exhibit of "Soviet Airmail--
The Early Years."
In the international arena a number of our members partic-
ipated at FINLANDIA 88. Michael Liphschutz was a member of the
jury. Dr. Raymond Casey's exhibit "The Russian Post in the Far
East" was displayed in the F.I.P. Championship Class. Per-Anders
Erixon gained a gold medal for his "Russia 1812-75." Vermeil
medals were awarded to Moshe Shmuely for "RSFSR 1917-23, Postage
Stamps and Rates", to Stig Andersen for "Russian Empire until
1905", and to Josef Kudrewicz for "Poland, Siege of Przemsyl Mail
1914-15". Joseph Taylor won a large silver medal for his "Russian
Allied Intervention 1918-20". Bill Welch exhibiting in the new FIP
field of Fiscal Philately won a silver medal for his "Columbia,
Revenue Stamps 1858-1933." The Rossica Journal received a silver-
bronze medal in the literature periodicals competition.
FROM THE CHAPTERS
The first 1988 meeting of the Northern California Chapter was
held in February at Filatelic Fiesta in San Jose, California.
Chairman Michael Ann Gutter led a discussion on the varieties of
the first Georgian stamps, using viewgraph enlargements projected
on the wall which worked surprisingly well. The exhibits included
one by Rossica member Russell Ott of Texas who won a Silver for his
exhibit "Soviet North Pole Drifting Stations," a display of covers
and markings of the scientific stations through the years.
Page 4 1988 ROSSICA 111
WESTPEX '88 in San Francisco, California was host for the second
meeting on April 30. A total of 21 members and visitors enjoyed a
lively two-hour gathering. Highlight of the event was a talk by
stamp dealer and auction agent Pam Vogt of Vogt Stamps, Cupertino,
California on buying and selling at auction and the role of agents
in auctions. Some very lively discussions followed over
interpretations of the agent's role on behalf of bidders.
Chairman "Mike" Gutter led a discussion on some of the
mechanical tools one can use to closely examine stamps, such as
enlargements using microfiche-type optical readers and new computer
techniques, the wave of the future. Show and Tell concluded the
meeting with some attendees showing their latest or unusual
The WESTPEX show did not have any Russian exhibits but some
very nice examples of Russian post offices in the Levant were found
in prize winning exhibits of Palestine and fine examples of early
Imperial covers used in Poland were in another gold winning
The next meeting of the Northern California chapter is
scheduled for the ADSA show in the fall in San Francisco.
The midwest chapter had two very successful meetings at
INDYPEX and CHICAGOPEX last fall. In the picture below you see
(left to right) Tom Chastang, Peter Michalove, Jim Mazepa, Adolph
Ackerman, and Michael Carson from the gathering at INDYPEX.
The first meeting of 1988 was held on Sunday, May 29th during
the COMPEX exhibition in Chicago. It was chaired by Peter Bylen
while Jim Mazepa was out of town at another stamp meeting in
Monterey, and featured a slide presentation from ROSSICA.
ROSSICA 111 1988 Page 5
Later Jim entertained members and guests at a picnic-type summer
gathering at his home on July 10th.
Fall meetings are scheduled for INDYPEX (September 9-11 with
the meeting on Sunday, the llth at 12:00) and CHICAGOPEX (November
4-6 with the meeting on the 6th at 11:30). Suggestions for meeting
topics are welcome and interested Rossica members are urged to
Jim Mazepa was the successful Grand Award winner at SESCAL in
Los Angeles last October and as such will be in the Champion of
Champions show in Detroit August 25-28 as this Journal goes to
press. We wish him well!
The Midwest Chapter has a new member, Ken Hoesch, Box 199,
38 East Main Place, Zeeland, MI 49464. Ken is new to Russian and
Soviet philately, and is interested in trading with other members.
If you have some duplicates, remember what it was like when you
began collecting and help him get started. Also, Tom Chastang, who
showed his great exhibit at INDYPEX, collects the Workers series
and is having a very hard time locating the 14k value with Lenin on
cover. Can anyone help him? Another member, Peter Michalove, has
been traveling in Russia and the chapter looks forward to his
comments on the trip at an upcoming meeting.
ROSSICA SOCIETY OF RUSSIAN PHILATELY
1988 ANNUAL MEETING
NAPEX '88 29 MAY 1988
The Annual Business Meeting of the Rossica Society of Russian
Philately was held at 1:00 P.M., 29 May 1988, in conjunction with
NAPEX '88 at the Sheraton National Hotel, Arlington, Virginia.
Roll Call of Officers
President: Gordon Torrey present
Vice President: George Shalimoff excused
Secretary: Kennedy Wilson present
Treasurer: Norman Epstein present
Librarian: David Skipton present
Directors: Sam Robbins excused
Lester Glass excused
Howard Weinert excused
Members and guests present: R. B. Bain, Denys J. Voaden, Gordey
Denisenko, Joe Geraci, George Shaw, Richard Dallair, Leon Finik,
Roslyn Winard, Adolph Ackerman, Joe Chinnici
The President, Mr. Torrey, opened the meeting by asking persons
present to stand and introduce themselves.
Page 6 1988 ROSSICA 111
Mr. Torrey then stated that the Rossica Society's second book
length translation, Konstantin Bazilevich's "The Russian Posts in
the XIX Century" was available to members at US$ 45.00 each,
postpaid. A total of 603 books were printed, with costs for
picture development, typesetting, printing, binding and shipping
coming to $7,807.87. To date, 128 copies have been sold, 2 placed
in the Rossica Library, 2 have been sent to the Library of
Congress, and 17 have been given out as sample/review copies for a
total of 149 distributed. Total costs, including mailing
($117.34), come to $7,925.21. Total sales have come to $4,950.00,
leaving a net deficit of $2.975.21 before the book breaks even. It
is anticipated that there will be sufficient sales of the book
during 1988 to bring the project into the black.
The Rossica Library continues to expand at a rapid pace. Most of
the acquisitions during the past 9 months have been from the late
Soviet period (1960 present) or copies of members' exhibits.
Receipts of imperial period material are down considerably,
although many titles are on order and expected to come in later
this year or early next.
Most of the material this year has been obtained by interlibrary
loan, either from the Library of Congress or the University of
Illinois. Journal exchanges account for most of the remaining
acquisitions, while outright purchases bring up the rear.
Donations of journals, articles, copies of exhibits and library
supplies from various members have increased, a most gratifying
development for the Librarian.
Certain members have been most generous, and should be thanked
publicly for their contributions: Adolph Ackerman, for the bound
photocopy of his award winning exhibit of Soviet Airmails;
Dr. Raymond Casey for the donation of the latest Soviet Collector;
Norman Epstein for the xerox of his outstanding Mt. Athos exhibit,
numerous 3 ring binders, Rossica archives material and a mass of
miscellaneous articles and booklets; Leon Finik for a pile of
recent Soviet philatelic periodicals; Harry von Hofmann for
donating parts 1 and 5 of his excellent Latvian Handbook; George
Murdoch for donating photocopies of his fascinating display of
Imperial Russian official seals; Ivo Steyn, for a steady stream of
Boost Europa Philatelie from the Netherlands; Joe Taylor for the
donation of a copy of his award winning Allied Intervention
exhibit; Gordon Torrey for photocopies of his "Midnight War"
exhibit and a steady stream of binders, articles and journals; Bob
Trbovich and Denys Voaden for the donation or loan of several
interesting articles, and Roslyn Winard for the loan of her auction
photocopies of the J. Posell revenue collection.
Since the 1987 report, at BALPEX, 18 members have made use of the
library for a total of 24 requests.
Space continues to be the major concern. In the next 6 months the
Librarian will have to begin boxing up some items that have not
been requested frequently and store them in his attic.
ROSSICA 111 1988 Page 7
The major project of cataloging is progressing, with most of the
articles (to include the "Notes from Collectors" section from the
Rossica Journal) now logged. The subject and name indices combined
measure 3 feet of 3 x 5 cards. There is still a tremendous amount
of work remaining before the catalog approaches completion.
Sales of duplicate library material, and xerox copies of articles
at 5 cents per page amount to $ 23.50. Savings in reproduction
costs (calculated at 3.9 cents per page: 5 cent commercial rate
minus the approximate 1.1 cent cost of using the library's machine)
come to $80.93 (2,075 pages).
The following is a breakdown of the Society's financial status as
of the end of calendar 1987:
Dues $ 4,780.00 Library $ 600.92
Sale of journals 913.34 Printing stationery 116.36
Ads 15.00 Postage 1,269.24
Expertizations 120.00 Legal fees 500.00
Contributions 27.00 Journal:
Returned postage 9.50 Printing 2,850.00
Sale of books 1,518.66 Typing 350.00
TOTAL INCOME $ 7,383.50 Postage 403.09
Secretarial supplies 536.34
Computer supplies 20.85
Copy machine supplies 21.94
Pix and supplies 5,170.37
TOTAL EXPENSES $15,242.59
Bank Balance as of 31 December 1987 $ 9,248.87
Report of the Teller of Ballots
The Teller of Ballots, Mr. George Shaw, reported that in the recent
election, a total of 86 valid ballots were received. On the basis
of these ballots, the following individuals were elected as
officers of the Society:
President: Dr. Gordon Torrey
Vice President: Dr. George Shalimoff
Secretary: Dr. Kennedy Wilson
Treasurer: Mr. Norman Epstein
Librarian: Mr. David Skipton
Page 8 1988 ROSSICA 111
Chairman, Audit Committee: Mr. Leon Finik
Directors at Large: Mr. Lester Glass
Mr. Alex Sadovnikov
Dr. Raymond J. Ceresa
The Teller of Ballots also reported that of the 9 proposed
amendments to the Rossica Constitution, all passed with substantial
margins, the closest being 77 to 7. (Secretary's note: a copy of
the Constitution, with the amendments incorporated, will be
enclosed with the mailing of the next issue of the Journal.)
The Secretary noted that the recent issue of the Journal (Rossica
110) had contained a substantial article on the subject of "The
Soviet Union in Space", an article which was essentially topical in
nature. He commented that this article alone had instigated more
inquiries to the Rossica Society about membership and requests for
reprints than any other article previously published. He has
responded to a total of 84 inquiries to date, and of those 84
inquiries, 11 new members could be directly attributed. Clearly,
although some of the "old guard" of the Society had been against
publication of such an article which dominated a single issue of
the Journal, there was substantial interest in articles of that
kind in the philatelic community. The Secretary noted he would be
in search of further articles of that nature in the future.
The Secretary raised the question of whether the Rossica Bulletin
should be continued. It was the general feeling of the members
present that the Rossica Bulletin should be continued and should be
published more frequently if at all possible.
The Secretary, on behalf of George Shalimoff, presented a letter
which was highly critical of the management of the Society. Each
of the points brought up in the letter were raised on behalf of Mr.
Shalimoff by the Secretary, and each elicited substantial comment
from the membership present. Some of the officers present pointed
out that they had responded repeatedly to similar questions raised
by Mr. Shalimoff, and he continued to raise the same issues.
The highly argumentative discussion which followed consumed the
remainder of the time allowed to Rossica at the meeting site.
Since we were substantially over our time for the room reserved for
us by NAPEX, and members of the society whose meeting followed ours
were entering the room, the President, Mr. Torrey, undertook to
respond to Mr. Shalimoff's letter. Then, should any questions
remain unanswered, they could be considered at a later general
The Rossica Annual Meeting was not so much adjourned as voted out
of order by the Canal Zone Society at 1425 hours.
Kennedy L. Wilson
ROSSICA 111 1988 Page 9
4 THE POSTAGE STAMPS OF SIBERIA, 1919-1922
by Ivo Steyn
The following article is an overview of the stamps which were
issued by various local governments in Siberia during the Russian
In Siberia, this war erupted with the revolt of the so-called
Czech Legion, a large body of soldiers of Czechoslovak descent who
had fought on the Russian side during WWI and who were on their way
to Vladivostok to be deported to Europe. On the 14th of May, 1918, a
minor scuffle between soldiers of this Czech Legion and the Soviet
authorities took place in Chelyabinsk. It led to open warfare and
two months later, most of Siberia was under Czech control. This gave
the non-communists a chance to set up governments and after a few
months of widespread confusion, all of the White governments united
under the rule of Admiral Kolchak on November 18, 1918. This White
government had its capital at Omsk and would last less than a year.
After the fall of Kolchak's government and his death on
February 7, 1920, the surviving Whites fled to Eastern Siberia where
various governments would flourish during 1920-1922. The most
notable of these was the Far Eastern Republic, which theoretically
* comprised all of Eastern Siberia. Soviet influence in this area
increased steadily and the last White force evacuated its strong-
hold in Vladivostok on October 25, 1922. The FER was absorbed by the
During this turbulent period, various stamp issues were re-
leased. Since Siberia and Petrograd were out of touch from mid-May
1918 onward, no stamp supplies were received in Siberia after that
date. This is the first, most prominent cause for certain Siberian
issues. Provisional stamps were made to remedy the shortages of
values which had run out. The second reason for stamp issues was the
frequent change in the form of government. A new government often
decided to make its identity visible by overprinting every stamp in
sight. The third reason for overprints was to signify a currency
reform. Finally, certain stamp issues strongly suggest speculative
In preparing this listing, the problem of organizing the nine
stamp issues in some sort of order reared its head. To group them
according to the nature of the government that issued them (White,
Red, other) would mean violating chronological order, and quite often
it is difficult to assess the nature of a government correctly
anyway. Geographical ordering--as practiced by many stamp catalogs--
necessitates at least three groups, and during the period in question
most of the areas involved have seen at least three governments,
* usually of widely different political plumage. In the end, a
chronological ordering seemed the most useful choice. To aid the
reader, an attempt is also made to note which issues were in use at
any one time in the various areas in question.
Page 10 1988 ROSSICA 111
While the greatest effort was made to make this listing as
complete and reliable as possible, new finds can always change our
views. Siberian Civil War philately is hampered by a lack of
reliable sources, government files, etc. We can only try to piece
things together using the items in our collections as clues. [The
reader may notice that some illustrations are missing. After exten-
sive research we were unable to locate copies certifiably genuine.
If anyone has these missing stamps, please notify the editor.]
THE KOLCHAK ISSUE (Scott Siberia 1-10)
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.
7. 8. 9. 10.
These stamps were overprinted at Omsk to supplement the Arms
(1909-1917 issue) stamps still in circulation. Date of issue:
unknown; it is likely that the kopek values appeared during the early
summer of 1919, while the ruble values may not have appeared until
after the fall of the Kolchak government. Ruble values are not known
with 1919 cancellation dates. The stamps did remain in use
throughout Siberia after Kolchak's death and are known with
cancellation dates as late as 1921.
The 1 R./4 kop. imperf stamp is not known used and may never
have been issued. The numbers issued are not known but must have
been considerable, since the kopek values are among the most common
of Civil War issues.
Stamps: Scott No.
1. "35" on 2 kopek green perf. 1
2. "50" on 3 kopek red perf. 2
3. "70" on 1 kopek orange perf. 3
4. "1 rubl'" on 4 kopek red perf. 4
(also on pink shades of 1909 printings)
5. "3 rublya" on 7 kopek blue perf. 5
6. "5 rublei" on 14 kopek blue and red perf. 6
(also on lighter shades of 1910)
7. "35" on 2 kopek green imperf. 7
8. "50" on 3 kopek red imperf. 8
9. "70" on 1 kopek orange imperf. 9
ROSSICA 111 1988 Page 11
10. "1 rubl'" on 4 kopek red imperf. 10
Inverted overprint: Known on 1-6, 8, 9.
1. 2. 3.
4. 5. 6.
Double overprint: Known on 1, 4, 5, 6, 8; may exist on 3, 10.
4. 5. 6.
Double overprint, one inverted: Known on 4, 9; may exist on 1, 3.
1: On some sheets (possibly as few as 5) stamp 93 has "3"
instead of "35."
5: The inverted overprint is known so severely shifted
that it falls on the next stamp down in the sheet.
This stamp has also been recorded with missing "a."
.... 0000000 006:09 0000*ses sso ".0 0- .0
Page 12 1988 ROSSICA 111
All: Shifted overprints occur in various degrees of severity. In
some values, this occasionally results in pairs of stamps,
one without overprint.
THE SEMENOV ISSUE (Scott Far Eastern Republic N1-N4)
11. 12. 13. 14.
Ataman Grigori Semenov exercised a reign of terror in Trans-
baikal Oblast during 1918-1920. From his capital Chita he robbed and W
murdered, refusing to acknowledge the authority of the Kolchak
government. Since his was one of the last significant White armies
in Eastern Siberia, Kolchak was forced to appoint him as his succes-
sor, but Semenov's evil reputation made him unacceptable to the other
Whites. He was finally evicted from Chita by partisans in October
1920 and would continue to muddy the water in Manchuria until 1945.
The stamps were overprinted at Chita to supply the dwindling
stocks of Arms stamps. Date of issue: unknown, probably late 1919--
early 1920. Area of use: Chita and immediate environs. A copy
cancelled "DAURIA" is known, so the stamps may have been used
throughout Transbaikal Oblast. Period of use: the stamps remained
in use after Semenov's flight, although such Soviet usage is very
rare. Number printed: ?
Stamps: Scott No.
11. "p. 1 p." reading downward on 4 kopek red perf. N1
12. "2p.50k." reading downward on 20 kopek blue and red perf. N2
13. "p. 5 p." horizontally on 5 kopek reddish brown perf. N3
14. "p. 10 p." reading downward on 70 kopek brown and N4
14: Known with inverted overprint, so that the overprint reads
11 and 13: Known with shifted overprint reading "p. p. 1" and
"p. p. 5."
ROSSICA 111 1988 Page 13
THE BLAGOVESHCHENSK ISSUE (Scott Far Eastern Republic 42-46)
15. 16. 17. 18. 19.
After Kolchak's death, the representatives of his government
were chased away in most of the larger cities in Eastern Siberia. In
Blagoveshchensk, an openly Bolshevik government under M. A. Trilisser
came into power in February 1920. During the summer of 1920, it
acknowledged the authority of the Far Eastern Republic, which had
been founded at Verkhne Udinsk on April 6, 1920. This did not
prevent the Blagoveshchensk government from issuing a set of five
stamps in ruble values to make up the heavily inflated postal rates.
The stamps were printed at Blagoveshchensk. Date of issue:
October 1920. Area of use: Amur Oblast. Period of use: October
1920-late 1921. Number printed: 100,000 sets. Remainders were sent
S to Moscow, cancelled with colored pencil lines or three black printed
lines. Genuinely used copies are rare.
Stamps: Scott No.
15. 2 rubles red 42
16. 3 rubles green 43
17. 5 rubles blue 44
18. 15 rubles brown 45
19. 30 rubles mauve 46
17 and 19: Known as horizontal and vertical tete-beche pairs.
17. 17. 19.
Tetebeche Tetebeche Tetebeche pair
Type A Type B annulled
Crayon annulled Crayon annulled
Page 14 1988 ROSSICA 111
THE DVR MONOGRAM OVERPRINT (Scott Far Eastern Republic 2-36)
20. 21. 22. 23. 24.
25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30.
31. 32. 33. 34. 35.
36. 37. 38. 39. 40. 41. 42.
43. 44. 45. 46.
ROSSICA 111 1988 Page 15
Vladivostok and its immediate environs--the Vladivostok Zemstvo
* Board controlled most of the Southern Primorsk area--acknowledged FER
authority in late November 1920. However, to allow it to deal with
the Japanese interventionist forces, the area did retain a local
government. From 12 December 1920 onward, this government was headed
by the communist V. G. Antonov.
The Zemstvo Board had already tried to stabilize the volatile
currency in June 1920. In late September 1920, a second, successful
attempt was made. From that date onward, the Vladivostok area
operated on a Gold Currency basis, with the new Gold Ruble approxi-
mately equal in value to the Japanese yen. At first, mail was
franked with Arms stamps and the still current Kolchak overprints,
but this introduced the danger of revenue loss due to imported Arms
stamps. Hence, the decision was taken to overprint all stamps in
stock with a black monogram "DVR." The letters are an abbreviation
of "Dalne-Vostochnaya Respublika," or Far Eastern Republic, which
indicates that this decision was taken soon after the incorporation
into the FER.
The stamps were overprinted by the State Bank in Vladivostok to
distinguish the stamps in stock at the post offices from the stamps
already in circulation. Date of issue: between 20 November 1920 and
March 1921, probably a few values at a time. Area of use: Southern
Primorsk Oblast, very occasionally further north. A copy cancelled
KHABAROVSK is known. Period of use: late November 1920-June 1922,
* possibly again after October 1922. Number issued: indicated after
each value. Sources differ in details, and an uncertainly of greater
than +10% is indicated by a question mark.
Stamps: Scott No.
20. 2 kopek green perf. 8,000 2
21. 3 kopek red perf. 55,000 3
22. 4 kopek red perf. 18,000 (?) 5
23. 10 kopek dark blue perf. 600 9
24. 14 kopek blue and red perf. 1,500 (?) 11
25. 15 kopek brown and blue perf. 8,800 12
26. 20 kopek blue and red perf. 500 (?) 13
27. 20/14 kopek blue and red perf. (1916 surch.) 64,000 14
28. 25 kopek green and mauve perf. 3,700 15
29. 35 kopek brown and green perf. 500 16
30. 50 kopek purple and green perf. 5,000 (?) 17
31. 1 ruble brown and red perf. 150 18
32. 1 kopek orange imperf. 8,800 21
33. 2 kopek green imperf. 40,000 (?) 22
34. 3 kopek red imperf. 6,000 23
35. 1 ruble brown and red imperf. 3,000 (?) 27
36. 35/2 kopek green perf. (Kolchak issue #1) 95,000 30
37. 35/2 kopek green imperf (Kolchak issue #7) 2,000 (?) 31
* 38. 70/1 kopek orange imperf. (Kolchak issue #9) 44,800 32
39. "k. 1 k." on 5 kopek Savings Bank stamp 7,000 35
40. "k. 2 k." on 10 kopek Savings Bank stamp 6,000 36
Page 16 1988 ROSSICA 111
41. "k. 3 k." on 35 kopek brown and green perf. 20,000 (?) 4
42. "k. 4 k." on 70 kopek brown and orange perf. 70,000 (?) 6
43. "k. 7 k." on 15 kopek brown and blue perf. 395,000 8
44. "k. 10 k." on 3.50 R. green and magenta perf. 2,000 (?) 10
45. "k. 7 k." on 15 kopek brown and blue imperf. 2,000 (?) 25
46. "k. 10 k." on 3.50 R. green and magenta imperf 100,000 26
Inverted overprint Known on 43
Missing overprint Known on 22, 25, 42, 43.
Partially missing on 40.
Overprinted on back Known on 23, 27, 36.
The following items of postal stationery were also overprinted
with a different DVR monogram, presumably during the same period.
Postcards: 3 kopek red 3,000
4 kopek red (Romanov issue) 400
5 kopek brown (Kerensky issue) 8,000
5 + 5 kopek brown reply paid 4,000
Wrappers: 1 kopek orange (384x82 mm) 600
2 kopek green (452x178 mm) 2,000
1 kopek orange (384x82 mm, Romanov issue) 72
2 kopek green (452x178 mm, Romanov issue) 300
Wrapper 88 x 398 mm
Varieties: S. Blekhman mentions the existence of double, inverted
and shifted overprints on postal stationery, but no
examples seem to have been recorded so far. Blekhman
is also the only source who mentions the numbers
printed of each item.
ROSSICA 111 1988 Page 17
THE VLADIVOSTOK ARMS ISSUE (Scott Far Eastern Republic 38-41)
47. 48. 49. 50.
The stamps were printed in Vladivostok to supplement the stock
of DVR-overprinted stamps. They were possibly intended as start of a
complete set of new Arms stamps, since essays of an unissued 7 kopek
value are known. Printed on slightly waxy paper, with a network of
varnish lines on the front. Date of issue: unknown; the 5 and 10
kopek are known used on 31-3-1921. Area of use: Southern Primorsk
Oblast. Period of use: late March 1921-early 1923. Number issued:
indicated after each value. Sources differ but never more than 3%.
Stamps: Scott No.
47. 2 kopek green 620,000 38
48. 4 kopek red (later pink) 600,000 39
S 49. 5 kopek brown 850,000 40
50. 10 kopek blue 1,000,000 41
Varieties: None known
THE CHITA ISSUE (Scott Far Eastern Republic 49-58)
51. 52. 53. 54.
55a. 55b. 55c. 55d.
Page 18 1988 ROSSICA 111
56. 57. 58. 59. 60.
After a coup by White elements in Vladivostok and environs, the
Southern Primorsk Oblast seceded from the FER and renamed itself the
Priamurskoe Vremennoe Pravitelstvo, the Provisional Government of the
Priamur (a reference to the old governor-generalship of the Priamur,
which comprised the later Amur and Primorsk Oblasts) or PVP. Since
the FER government at Chita had also switched to a Gold Ruble
standard in May 1921 and since the secession of Vladivostok denied
the Chita government access to the stocks of the new Vladivostok Arms
stamps and DVR overprints, a stamp issue for the remaining FER area
The stamps were printed at Chita. Waxy paper without varnish
lines. Date of issue: November-December 1921. Area of use: at
first only the remaining FER area, after October 1922 throughout
Eastern Siberia. Period of use: December 1921-early 1924. Number
issued: as given by Blekhman, who apparently forgot to include the
50 kopek value.
Stamps: Scott No.
51. 1 kopek orange 500,000 49
52. 3 kopek light red 500,000 50
(may exist on thick paper)
53. 4 kopek red and orange 500,000 51
(may exist on thick paper)
54. 5 kopek dark orange 500,000 52
55. 7 kopek blue a. imperf 53
b. perf 11 1/2 53a
c. rouletted 7 53b
d. perf. 11 1/2 x roulette 7 53c
(total for four varieties) 1,500,000
56. 10 kopek dark blue and red 1,000,000 54
57. 15 kopek red (shades) 500,000 55
58. 20 kopek blue and red (shades) 400,000 56
59. 30 kopek green and red (shades) 300,000 57
60. 50 kopek black and red ? 58
53: Known with double "4" and with severely shifted "4." It
may also exist roulette 9 1/2.
55b: Known imperf vertically; many may also exist with a very
ROSSICA 111 1988 Page 19
double "4" shifted "4"
THE MERKULOV ANNIVERSARY ISSUE (Scott Siberia 78-81)
61. 62. 63. 64.
Issued at Vladivostok to commemorate the first anniversary of
the coup which placed the Merkulov brothers in control of the PVP.
The stamps were overprinted by the State Bank in Vladivostok.
Date of issue: May 26, 1922. Area of use: Southern Primorsk Oblast
(? only one cover known). Period of use: probably a few days after
the date of issue. Number issued: indicated after each value.
Blekhman and Pappadopulo differ widely on this issue and both figures
are mentioned, the first being from Pappadopulo, the second from
Blekhman. The basic stamps used for the overprint are 47-50. Of the
4 kopek stamp, only late printings in light red-pink were used.
Stamps: Scott No.
61. 2 kopek green 1,800/1,850 78
62. 4 kopek pink 2,000/1,850 79
63. 5 kopek brown 1,850/2,500 80
64. 10 kopek blue 2,000/2,000 81
Varieties: 3 stamps with an inverted overprint have been
identified as forgeries. No other varieties are known.
Page 20 1988 ROSSICA 111
THE DITERIKHS ISSUE (Scott Siberia 85-118)
65. 66. 67. 68. 69. 70.
71. 72. 73. 74. 75. 76.
77. 78. 79. 80. 81. 82.
83. 84. 85. 86.
(On Arms stamps of 1909-1917)
88. 89. 90. 91. 92. 93.
(On Vladivostok Arms Stamps)
ROSSICA 111 1988 Page 21
94. 95. 96. 97. 98.
(On DVR Monogram overprints on Kolchak overprints)
The Merkulovs were deposed by a coalition of nonsocialist
parties, who then invited General Diterikhs to come from Kharbin and
head a new government. Diterikhs insisted on extensively reforming
the government and renaming the area Priamurskii Zemskii Krai,
Priamur Territory or PZK. Diterikhs detested the communist-
dominated FER and all its manifestations and ordered the DVR over-
prints to be taken out of circulation. Stamps of this issue, the
Kolchak issue, and the Vladivostok Arms issue were then overprinted
with the name of the new government, and occasionally with a new
value as well. Apart from the two new values, four overprint cliches
were used: a small framed overprint, a similar unframed overprint, a
larger framed overprint for the 2 ruble stamps, and a wholly
different framed design for the DVR overprints. It seems likely that
at least some of the values were issued for speculative purposes.
The stamps were overprinted by the State Bank in Vladivostok.
Date of issue: between August 7, 1922 and September 14, probably
staggered over a period of time. Area of use: Southern Primorsk
Oblast. Period of use: from Date of Issue to early December 1922.
Extreme recorded dates: 14-9 and 7-12. Note: Between October 15th
and October 25th these were the only stamps valid for postage in the
Southern Primorsk area. These stamps are sometimes encountered with
the margin cut away around one corner. It is believed the corner
stamps of each pane of 25 were treated thus to facilitate the
alignment of the overprint. Number printed: indicated after each
value. Only Pappadopulo and Chenakalo give information on this
issue, and these sources frequently contradict each other. These
numbers must therefore be treated with caution.
Stamps: Scott No.
On Arms stamps of 1909-1917:
65. 1 kopek orange perf. 400 85
66. 2 kopek green perf. 200 86
67. 3 kopek red perf. 800 87
68. 4 kopek red perf. 3,000 88
69. 5 kopek brown perf. 500 89
70. 7 kopek blue perf. 500 90
overprintedd in red)
S 71. 10 kopek dark blue perf. 500 91
overprintedd in red)
72. 14 kopek blue and red perf. 300 92
73. 15 kopek brown and blue perf. 5,875 93
74. 20 kopek blue and red perf. 1,000 94
Page 22 1988 ROSSICA 111
75. 20/14 kopek blue and red (1916) perf. 300 95
76. 25 kopek green and mauve perf. 600 96
overprintedd in red)
77. 35 kopek brown and green perf. 2,175 97
78. 50 kopek purple and green perf. 2,900 98
79. 70 kopek brown and orange perf. 800 99
80. 1 kopek orange imperf. 3,575 100
81. 2 kopek green imperf. 2,400 101
82. 3 kopek red imperf. 1,600 102
83. 4 kopek red imperf. 200 103
84. 5 kopek brown imperf. 700 104
85. 15 kopek brown and blue imperf. 200 105
86. 20 kopek blue and red imperf. 400 106
overprintedd in red)
87. 1 Ruble brown and red imperf. 1,300 107
On Vladivostok Arms Stamps:
88. "kop. 1 kop." on 2 kopek green (#47) 12,200 108
89. 2 kopek green (#47) 12,200 109
90. "kop. 3 kop." on 4 kopek red (#48) 11,025 110
91. 4 kopek red (#48) 13,525 111
92. 5 kopek brown (#49) 19,050 112
93. 10 kopek blue (#50) 30,150 113
overprintedd in red)
On Kolchak overprints:
94. 35/2 kopek green (#1) perf. 300 114
95. 70/1 kopek orange (#9) imperf. 200 115
On DVR Monogram overprints on Kolchak overprints:
96. 35/2 kopek green (#36) perf. 9,650 116
97. 35/2 kopek green (#37) imperf. 300 117
98. 70/1 kopek orange (#38) imperf. 7,450 118
Inverted overprints: Known on 77, 80
Note: 65-71, 80-84 and 88-93 have the framed overprint;
72-79, 85, 86, 94 and 95 have the unframed overprint.
THE NOVEMBER ANNIVERSARY ISSUE (Scott Far Eastern Republic 62-65)
99. 100. 101. 102.
ROSSICA 111 1988 Page 23
The Whites and Japanese evacuated the PZK area during October,
and on the 25th October, FER troops entered the city.
The stamps were overprinted by the State Bank in Vladivostok to
commemorate the fifth anniversary of the October Revolution of 1917.
Overprinted in red in various typefaces. Date of issue: 7 November
1922. Area of use: Southern Primorsk Oblast, possibly further north.
Period of use: 7 November 1922 to early 1923 (March 1923 cancel
known). Number printed: 10,000 sets. Overprints were made on #47-50.
Stamps: Scott No.
99. 2 kopek green 62
100. 4 kopek red 63
101. 5 kopek brown 64
102. 10 kopek blue 65
Inverted overprint: Known on 99, 100, 101.
Double overprint: Known on 101.
Black overprints are essays.
Note: the most noticeably different overprint position is #24 in
each pane, which has curved feet to the "22" of "1922."
99. 100. 101.
Curve base of 2 Curve base of 2 Double overprint
The FER ceased to exist as an independent state on November 15,
1922. During 1923 and early 1924 various Siberian issues remained in
circulation, mostly the Chita issue. These were later supplemented
by a set of overprints on the 1922 Worker, Soldier and Peasant issue,
made especially for the Far East.
Blekhman, S. "Grazhdanskaya Voyna v Sibiri i na Dal'nem Vostoke
v Zerkale Filatelii"(The Civil War in Siberia and in the Far East
in the Mirror of Philately). Filateliya SSSR, 1978, #2,
Ceresa, R. J. "The Postage Stamps of Russia, 1917-1923," Vol. 3,
parts 3-5, Cambridge, 1983.
Chenakalo, F. I. "The Story of the Postage Stamps of the Far
Eastern Republic," Rossica Journal 79, 1970, pp. 19-25.
Pappadopulo, S. "The Stamps of Russia-in-Asia," Shanghai, 1923.
Schirmer, W. "Die Briefmarken der Fernostlichen Republik in den
Jahren 1920-1923", Sammler Express 16, pp. 364-365 and 17,
pp. 392-393, 1976.
Page 24 1988 ROSSICA 111
JAPAN'S FIELDPOST IN THE SIBERIAN INTERVENTION, 1918-22
by Edward J. Rasmussen
[Reprinted from the Postal History Journal, No. 76, June 1987]
In March 1917, in the midst of World War I, the imperial regime
in Russia, an ally of England and France in the struggle against
Germany and the other Central Powers, was overthrown, and by November
a Bolshevik government committed to withdrawal from the war was in
power in Moscow. This new government promptly concluded an
armistice, confirmed by the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk in March 1918.
The period preceding the armistice was naturally marked by a
general deterioration of the Russian war effort, but the situation in
the Ukraine was an exception. There the Czechoslovak Legion, formed
of prisoners of war to fight on Russian soil against their imperial
masters, had not only maintained their positions but had actually
made advances. Now, with the cessation of hostilities, they were
The Allies wanted these seasoned fighting men in Europe, where
German armies, bolstered by division transferred from the former
eastern front, were about to mount new offensives in France. Agree-
ment was reached with Moscow to permit evacuation of the Czechs via
the Trans-Siberian Railway to Vladivostok, where they would be
embarked on transports for Europe.
The movement of 40,000 armed foreigners across a vast land con-
vulsed in revolutionary turmoil, however, inevitably led to clashes.
Moscow ordered the Czechs disarmed. The Czechs decided that if they
were to leave Russia, they would have to fight their way out.
By this time it was June 1918. The Czech Legion, in echelons
of eight hundred (forty men to a box car, twenty box cars to a
locomotive) was strung out over 5,000 miles of the Trans-Siberian
Railway from European Russia to Vladivostok.
The plight of the Czech Legion captivated the attention of the
world, including the United States. President Wilson, already under
pressure from the European allies to intervene in some manner,
finally responded to the wave of sympathy for the Czechs by
proposing, in early July, a joint dispatch of troops to Siberia with
the limited mission of securing the evacuation of the Legion and
protecting the considerable amount of war supplies previously sent to
Russia and still piled up at Vladivostok. Geography as well as the
desperate war situation in Europe made it obvious that this force
would be principally American and Japanese.
The question of intervention had been discussed in Japan ever
since the Bolsheviks seized control in Moscow. Along with England,
Japan had for some time been providing aid to anti-Bolshevik forces,
particularly that of the Cossack ataman, Semenov, but while some in
Japan saw intervention as an opportunity for Japan to advance its
ROSSICA 111 1988 Page 25
Interests in Asia, may others, including many military men, viewed an
adventure on the landmass of Siberia with grave misgiving.
The American proposal touched off an intense debate. In the
end, a vague enough formula was found to indicate acceptance of the
limited mission proposed by the U.S. while at the same time
accommodating broader interpretations, thus attracting a consensus
that included many with quite different aims. It seemed later that,
not only for Japan, but for all participants, a nimbus of undeclared
aspirations clouded the mission, and the outcome predictably would
satisfy no one.
Japan's response to the U.S. added to the declared purposes--
rescuing the Czech Legion and securing the war materiel--the
additional aim of protecting foreign nationals in the area. There
were at that time an estimated 9,700 Japanese residing in the Russian
Far East. The undeclared purposes, harbored by some but opposed by
others and therefore not included, contemplated some degree of
intervention in the revolution on the anti-Bolshevik side and the
possible establishment of a friendly, non-communist buffer state in
The decision to send expeditionary forces was made on the first
of August, and mobilization orders were issued in Japan on the 2nd.
The U.S. ordered the 27th and 31st Infantry Regiments in the
Philippines to embark for Vladivostok as the forerunners of an
Expeditionary force under Major General William S. Graves, made up of
elements of the VIII Division being made ready to sail from San
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Page 26 1987 ROSSICA 111
The first to land was the British Middlesex Regiment from Hong
Kong. The vanguard of the Japanese XII Division arrived on August
llth. The two U.S. regiments from the Philippines landed on August
15th, followed two weeks later by General Graves and the VIII
Division troops, bringing the U.S. total force to nearly 10,000 men.
The British Regiment was later joined by a force of Canadians.
France added 1200 Annamese troops from Indo-China. The Japanese,
however, being the closest as well as being unengaged in Europe, sent
by far the largest number, at the maximum at least 70,000 men.
In this initial phase, the Japanese force consisted of two parts
under separate control. The Vladivostok Expeditionary Force was
composed of the XII Division, an independent heavy artillery
battalion and other units assembled under the command of General
Otani Kikuzo. After landing at Vladivostok on August llth, postal
personnel attached to the XII Division opened Fieldpost Office #1 in
the railway station. Within a week the 14th and 24th Infantry
Regiments, the 12th Calvary and a field artillery unit were in action
north of Vladivostok at Kraevski, where Czech Legion units who had
already reached Vladivostok were fighting to keep the railroad open
against a determined attack by a Red force. Elements of the newly
arrived British and American forces were also rushed to the areas to
provide support. After two days of bitter fighting, the Red Force
was driven off. Thus ended the only pitched battle the Allied armies
were to be involved in, as the Reds thereafter shifted to hit-and-run
The second part of the Japanese expeditionary force was composed
of units of the VII Division then in garrison in Manchuria under
Kwantung Administration control. An anti-revolutionary force under
Semenov had been operating in Siberia east of Lake Baikal with
Japanese support; but at this time, it had ben driven back across the
border into Manchuria. This posed a problem for Japan because
Semenov, by crossing the border with his men still bearing arms, had
violated the border of Japan's treaty partner, China.
Japan requested China to participate in a pre-arranged sham of
disarming these troops, but China feared provoking the Reds and asked
for support. The VII Division was ordered on August 2 to send
troops. Semenov's men went through a pro-forma exercise of
disarming. Soon thereafter, their weapons restored, they accompanied
the VII Division troops as they entered Siberia at Manchouli.
Meanwhile, on August 24th, the III Division was ordered to mobilize
to be sent over in support of the VII Division.
On August 25th, a temporary fieldpost office was opened at
Manchouli. It was unnumbered and was in operation less than a month
when it was superseded by a permanent office (FPO #7).
While the XII Division fought its way north to Khabarovsk and
then advanced west along the Amur River basin rail line, the VII
Division made its way from Manchouli to Chita along the China Eastern
Railway and then turned north and east. On September 22, 1918, at a
point approximately midway between Chita and Khabarovsk, a unit of
the 7th Calvary met a unit of the 12th Calvary, effecting a link-up
of the two forces.
ROSSICA 111 1988 Page 27
During the summer, Czech Legion troops in central Siberia under
the inspired generalship of Rudolph Gaida had succeeded in punching
through to Irkutsk, around the CircumBaikal Loop and on to Chita, so
with the linking of forces in the Amur River basin, the Trans-
Siberian Railway was under Allied control in both its branches from
the Urals to Vladivostok.
The XII Division opened FPOS 2, 3, and 4 north of Vladivostok
from Nikol'sk to Khabarovsk, while FPOs 5, 6, 7 and 8 were opened by
the VII Division from Tsitsihar in Manchuria to Chita.
Before the end of September, the III Division arrived via the
China Eastern Railway (CER) and took positions guarding the railroad
in the area east of Lake Baikal. The VII Division was ordered to
pull back its units and deploy them to guard the CER across North
Manchuria from Pogranichnaia on the eastern border with Russia to
Dauriia, just across the western border into Siberia. As a conse-
quence, most of the reported and described postal items sent by VII
Division personnel bear postmarks of fieldpost offices in North
Manchuria, while those of III Division origin came from Peshchanka, a
barracks outside Chita (FPO #8) and Berezovka, the barracks at
Verkhane Udinsk (FPO #9). For some III Division soldiers, these were
to be their permanent addresses. The bitter winter of 1918-19 left
many graves behind these barracks.
By the end of October 1918, the XII Division had added FPOs #11
* and 12. These were located in the area west of Khabarovsk. Mean-
while, FPO #3 had been transferred to Alekseievsk. This was the
farthest west of the FPOs under XII Division command. Between there
and Lake Baikal, and along the CER in North Manchuria, FPOs #9, 21,
22, 23, 24, 25, and 26 were opened to serve the area guarded by the
VII and III Divisions.
From the beginning, the strategy for military operations in
Siberia was basically to secure control of the rail lines.
Accordingly, with few exceptions, the FPOs are found strung like
beads along the CER and Trans-Siberian Railways.
The first exception was in the area south of Vladivostok along
Korea's northern border. In mid-October 1918, elements of the XIX
Division, then in Korea, were organized into a South Ussuri Expedi-
tionary Force and dispatched to occupy the area. When postal
facilities opened there in March 1919, mail moved to and from Vladi-
vostok by sea. There were two offices, Slavyanka and Novokievsk.
Later, there were offices at the two most northerly locations,
Zeya inland and Nikolayevsk at the mouth of the Amur River. Both
were reached by river boat until ice formed, and then by wagon or
sledge. Finally, the office briefly opened at Kyakta on the
Mongolian border could be reached only by land.
The initial authorization for a military post in Siberia was
Communications Ministry Bulletin #985 dated August 5, 1918, which was
amended on the 14th to include North Manchuria as well.
Page 28 1988 ROSSICA 111
The Vladivostok Expeditionary Force region, which comprised
Maritime and Amur Provinces, was the responsibility of the XII
Division Postal Section (Yubinbu). The North Manchuria region, which
included Za-Baikal Province in Siberia, was the responsibility of the
Kwantung Line-of-Communications Postal Section (Kwantung Heitan
Yubinbu) under the jurisdiction of the Kwantung Government-General
Military Department (Kwantung-to Tokufu Rikugunbu).
Each was assigned specific series of numbers for its fieldpost
offices. The XII Division Postal Section was given Nos. 1 to 4 and
11 to 20. The Kwantung Line-of-Communications Postal Section was
S i g
Figure 1. Typical military postcard with Siberian expedition
fieldpost dated comb postmark; top, right to left, Dai Nijuroku,
meaning #26; center (dateline, left to right), (Taisho) 8=1919,
thus 1919.Apr.27; bottom, right to left, Yasenkyoku, meaning
field office. Imprints horizontal (top, right to left), Yubin
Hagaki, meaning postcard; vertical (left), Gunji Yubin, meaning
ROSSICA 111 1988 Page 29
given Nos. 5 to 10 and 21 to 30. Numbers were assigned in the order
in which offices were opened, and offices were opened as the troops
advanced, so in the beginning an orderly pattern can be observed.
However, as the military situation unfolded, troops were moved about
and offices were moved, or closed and re-opened elsewhere, as needed.
Like the chessboard which displays a recognizable pattern of ranks
and files at the opening move, but later appears a jumble to the
casual observer, the design was soon broken and the FPO number ceased
to provide any clue and to age or location of an office, except in
the quiet sector along the CER.
In 1920 and later, FPO No. 50 and above were assigned to the
Sakhalin Province Expeditionary Force, but that operation is outside
the scope of this article.
Numbers 1 through 30 were all used at one time or another to
designate fieldpost offices except 18, 19, 20 and 30. The existence
of all 26 offices officially listed as having opened has been con-
firmed by cards or covers with legible postmarks except for two. To
date, no record of items postmarked from #17 or #27 has appeared.
There were, however, many more than 26 office locations. As
noted above, an FPO number was often used at different places at
different times. In addition, there were offices handling military
mail other than those designated fieldpost offices. The term for
fieldpost office is Yasen Yubinkyoku, but four other terms were also
Table 1. Fieldpost Locations and Dates by FPO #.
FPO Date Date Military Earliest Latest
# Location Opened Closed Unit Postmark Postmark
1 Vladivostok 1918. Aug. 14 1922. Oct. 24 1918. Oct. 8
XVI, 9th Inf. 1919. Oct. 24 1920. Jun. 15
IX, 36th Inf. 1921. Apr. 16 1922. May 29
1922. Aug. 11
2 Nikol'sk 1918. Aug. 21 1918. Sep. 13 1918. Sep. 8
Spasskaya 1918. Oct. 11 1918. Dec. 13
Nikol'sk 1918. Dec. 14 1922. Sep. 16 111, 68th Inf. 1919. Apr. 29 1919. Sep. 28
XIV, 32nd Inf. 1920. May 2
Vlad. Air Unit 1921. Aug. 27
IX, 36th Int. 1922. Mar. 23 1922. Aug. 28
3 Spasskaya 1918. Aug. 21 1918. Sep. 15
Alekseievsk 1918. Sep. 27 1920. Feb. 29 1919. May 20
XIV, 66th Inf. 1919. Aug. 8 1920. Feb. 22
Shkotovo 1920. Jun. 10 1922. Oct 1 IX, 69th Inf. 1921. Jul. 7
1922. Jul. 22
4 Ussur 1918. Sep. 4 1918. Sep. 5
"Iman 1918. Sep. 6 1918. Sep. 8
Khabarovsk 1918. Sep. 11 1920. Oct 15 XII, 1918. Oct. 5
XII, 12th Cav. 1919. Jan. 1
XII, 72nd Inf. 1919. Jan. 1
XIV, 2nd Inf. 1919. Jul. 31 1920. Oct 5
Suchan 1920. Nov. 1 1922. Aug. 25
4 Branch a BIra 1918. Oct 28 1919. Mar. 15
Page 30 1988 ROSSICA 111
Table 1. Continued
FPO Date Date Military Earliest Latest
# Location Opened Closed Unit Postmark Postmark
5 Tsitsihar 1918. Sep. 14 1920. Aug. 28 1918. Oct. 3
VII, 28th Inf. 1919. Jan. 1 1919. Apr. 12
Pogranichnaia 1920. Sep. 11 1922. Sep. 9 1920. Oct. 16 1922. Jul. 21
5 Bunshitsu a
Harbin 1918. Oct. 16 1922. Sep. 12 1920. Jan. 1 1922. Jul. 21
5 Branch a
Po-k'o-tu 1918. Sep. 23 1918. Oct. 23
6 Hallar 1918. Sep. 15 1920. Aug. 25 III, 6th Inf. 1919. May 19
V, 42nd Inf. 1919. Sep. 15
Razdolnoe 1920. Sep. 11 1922. Oct. 1 XIII, 16th Inf. 1920. Oct. 1 1921. Apr. 5
(Maritime) 1922. Jan. 1
7 Manchouli 1918. Sep. 16 1920. Aug. 25 1918. Nov. 6
III, 6th Inf. 1919. Apr. 3
V, 42nd Inf. 1920. Feb. 18
1920. Feb. 23
Slavyanka 1920. Sep. 15 1922. Oct. 4 1921. Feb. 10
7 Branch @
Dauriia 1918. Sep. 21 1918. Oct. 26
8 Chita (includes 1918. Sep. 22 1920. Aug. 14 III, FIdTIg 1918. Oct. 10
Peshchanka) III. 68th Inf. 1918. Dec. 10 1919. Jan. 30
XIII, 58th Int. 1920. Feb. 16
1920. Jun. 27
Heng-tao-ho-tzu 1920. Sep. 5 1922. Sep. 10 1922. Jan. 1
9 Verkhne Udinsk 1918. Oct 13 1920. Feb. 28 1918. Oct. 27
(includes III, 3rd FA 1918. Nov. 21 1919. Jan. 1
Berezovka) 111, 68th Inf. 1919. Jan. 7
2nd Tig. 1919. Jul. 27
Nibangawa 1920. Jun. 15 1922. Oct 22 1920. Jun. 21
7th Inf. 1921. Jun. 14
9 Haken-in JSchGjo 0
Irkutsk 1918. Dec. 14 1919. May 31
Kyakhta 1919. May 14 1919. Jun. 7
10 Spasskaya 1919. Sep. 21 1922. Sep. 1 1919. Oct. 7
XIV, 66th Inf. 1920. May 25 1920. May 29
IX, 36th Inf. 1922. Jul. 4
10 Branch Q
Suiagin 1922. Apr. 18 1922. Apr. 24
11 Bochikarevo 1918. Oct 11 1918. Oct 27
Ushumun 1918. Oct. 28 1919. Apr. 17 LofC Tig, 3d. 1918. Dec. 4
Rukhlovo 1919. Apr. 18 1920. Feb. 22 III, 68th Inf. 1919. Jul. 31
Adrianovka 1920. Mar. 5 1920. May 7
? ? ? 1920. May 18
Sohondo 1920. Jun. 15 1920. Aug. 10
I-mien-p'o 1920. Dec. 11 1922. Sep. 10 1921. Jan. 1 1922. Jan. 27
12 Blagoveshchensk 1918. Oct 12 1920. Mar. 2 XII, IstMtArt. 1918. Oct 29 1919. Jan. 1
1920. Jan. 1
Kokka 1920. May 26 1920. Jul. 29 1920. Jun. 27
Ugorinala 1921. Mar. 1 1922. Oct 2 62nd Inf. 1922. Jan. 1
13 Zeya 1919. May 20 1920. Feb. 16 1919. May 24
III, 33rd Inf. 1919. Sep. 8
Pogranichnaia 1920. May 26 1920. Sep. 10
luklevskala 1921. Mar. 1 1922. Oct 17 1922. Jan. 1
ROSSICA 111 1988 Page 31
T;Ioe 1. ,C tinmod
FPO Date DIt. l.;i.ry Earliest Latest
Location Opened Closed Unit Postmark Postmark
14 Slavyanka 1919. Mar. 12 1920. Sep. 14 1919. May 13 1919. Jun. 25
15 Bochlkarevo 1919. Sep. 27 1920. Mar. 10
Ussuri 1920. Jun. 5 1920. Jun. 15
Iman 1920. Jun. 16 1920. Oct 23 1920. Sep. 7
16 Arkhara 1919. Oct. 23 1920. Mar. 18 XIV, 2nd Inf. 1920. Jan. 1 1920. Mar. 4
XIV, 15th Inf. 1920. Feb. 23
Bikin 1920. Jun 9 1920. Jul. 28 XIV, 66th Inf. 1920. Jun. 26 1920. Ju. 18
Vyazemskiy 1920. Jul. 28 1920. Oct. 20
Lao-hei-shan 1920. Nov. 7 1920. Dec. 18 1920. Nov. 17
Shinerovka(?) 1921. Jan. 1 1921. Jun. 27 1921. Jan. 17
Grodekovo 1921. Jul. 2 1922. Sep. 2
17 Ushumun 1920. Jan. 5 1920. Feb. 21
Aga 1920. Mar. 5 1920. Mar. 25
Razdolnoe 1920. Jun. 1 1920. Sep. 1
21 Nerchinsk 1918. Oct. 31 1920. Aug. 5 III, 6th Inf. 1918. Nov. 9
1920. Jan. 1
22 Po-k'o-tu 1918. Oct. 24 1920. Aug. 28 Prov. R/R Regt 1918. Nov. 14
(Buhato) Garrison Unit 1919. Sep. 1
23 Oloviannala 1918. Oct 27 1920. Aug. 18 III, 6th Inf. 1919. Jan. 1 1919. Jun. 26
1920. Aug. 9
24 Sretensk 1918. Oct. 31 1920. Jul. 18 1919. Jan. 1 1919. Sep. 22
Onon 1920. Jul. 20 1920. Jul. 23
Urga 1920. Jul. 25 1920. Aug. 10
Kaidarovskaia 1920. Aug. 13 1920. Aug. 17
25 Muling 1918. Oct 23 1918. Nov. 1
Pogranichnaia 1918. Nov. 2 1920. May 25 1919. May 20 1920. May 14
26 Daurila 1918. Oct 27 1919. Apr. 15 1918. Nov. 14 1919. Feb. 23
Mogocha 1919. Apr. 26 1920. Feb. 26 1919. Apr. 27 1919. Jul. 28
Kuenga 1920. Apr. 6 1920. Jun. 10
27 Kokka 1919. May 18 1920. May 25
28 Zavitinsk 1919. May 28 1920. Mar. 12 1919. Jul. 14
XIV, 15th Inf. 1919. Oct. 13
1920. Jan. 1
29 Nikolayevsk 1919. May 24 1919. Jun. 28
SOfficially terminated 1920. Jun. 14 but actually ceased to function in March when Port Nikolayevsk was
seized by Red partisans.
Manchouli 1918. Aug. 25 1918. Sep. 18
Harbin Branch 1918. Aug. 14 1922. Oct 11 1918. Nov. 7 1922. Jul. 30
Page 32 1988 Rossica 111
Table 1. Continued
FPO Date Date litary Earliet Latest
I Location Opened Closed Unit Postmart Postmark
Relay Stations (Tsugitatesho)
1Tsu Nikol'sk 1918. Sep. 14 1918. Dec. 13
Spasskaya 1918. Dec. 14 1919. Sep. 20 1919. Jun. 9 1919. Jun. 26
Ugorinaia 1920. Jun. 9 1921. Feb. 28 1920. Jul. 9 1920. Jul. 29
2Tsu Iman 1918. Sep. 14 1919. Apr. 30
3Tsu Bikin 1918. Sep. 14 1920. Apr. 1
4Tsu Vyazemskiy 1918. Sep. 14 1919. May 10
5Tsu Spasskaya 1918. Sep. 16 1918. Oct 10
Bira 1919. Mar. 15 1920. Mar. 20 XIV, 2nd Inf. 1919. Dec. 15
6Tsu Bira 1918. Oct. 8 1918. Oct. 27
Bochikarevo 1918. Oct. 28 1919. Sep. 26 1919. Jan. 1
XIV, 66th Inf. 1919. Jul. 26
7Tsu Arkhara 1918. Oct. 10 1918. Nov. 12
Zavitinsk 1918. Nov. 13 1919. May 27
8Tsu Ushumun 1919. Apr. 17 1920. Jan. 4 1919. Sep. 29
9Tsu Razdolnoe 1919. Mar. 10 1919. Apr. 25
Novokievsk 1919. Apr. 28 1921. Feb. 28 So. Ussuri EF 1920. Jan. 1
1920. Oct 11 1920. Dec. 27
10Tsu Irkutsk 1919. Jun. 1 1920. Jan. 9 1919. Oct 15
11Tsu Kyakhta 1919. Jun. 8 1920. Feb. 24
21Tsu Mogocha 1918. Nov. 1 1919. Apr. 25 III, 8th Inf. 1918. Dec. 27
1919. Mar. 15
22Tsu Karymskaia 1918. Oct. 28 1920. Aug. 18 1919. Sep. 7 1920. Jun. 14
23Tsu Kokka 1918. Nov. 6 1919. May 17
The term Yasen Yubin Shutchojo signifies fieldpost branch
office, and this translation is appropriate to its apparent use,
since offices so named are found only at locations close to the FPO
of the same number. There were only seven of these and the period of
operation for each was relatively brief.
Offices designated Yasen Yubin Tsugitatesho were a major
additional group. The distinguishing word, tsugitatesho, is not in
common use. A reasonable translation of the term would be fieldpost
relay station, but this does not seem to convey an accurate idea of
their actual function, which seems to have been much the same as that
of the fieldpost offices. The term originated during the Russo-
Japanese war fourteen years earlier. In his article on the fieldpost
system of that period, appearing in the September 1972 issue of
FUIRATERSUTO (Philatelist) magazine, T. Suzuki provided this expla-
nation "...when the distance between FPOs was too great on a Line-of-
Communication route, "Relay Stations' were provided. These were
independent units not attached to an FPO and usually operated under a
non-commissioned officer rather than a postal service officer. Their
functions were not confined to forwarding, as some of them also
collected and distributed mail, and used a dated cancellation."
ROSSICA 111 1988 Page 33
The existence of many cards and covers with cancellations from
tsugitatesho offices is evidence that in Siberia and North Manchuria
they clearly accepted and processed mail.
The other two terms were each used only once. Field office
detachment personnel garrison location (Yasenkyoku Haken-In no
Jochujo) was at Irkutsk for five months before moving briefly to
Kyakhta where the office opened before the one in Irkutsk was
officially terminated. Although this was the only one with this
designation, it was given #9, an indication that it was some kind of
branch of FPO #9 at Verkne Udinsk, the nearest major Japanese Army
location. It was succeeded at both Irkutsk and Kyakhta by
The other unique term was Yasen Yubin Bunshitsu. A reasonable
translation would be fieldpost detached office, but the history of
the origin of this term suggests that it was deliberately ambiguous
in Japanese so that no translation can be expected to describe it
Figure 2. Tsugitatesho dated comb postmark. Top, Dai Ichi
Yasen, meaning #1 field; bottom, Yubin Tsugitatesho, meaning
mail relay station.
The story begins in March 1918, months before the expedition,
when a branch of the Changchun Post Office of the Japanese South
Manchurian Railway Zone postal system was set up inside the Japanese
consulate at Harbin. Its existence was kept secret because only
Russia had extraterritorial rights in North Manchuria, and China was
disputing whether this permitted even Russia to operate postal
facilities. Covert branches were also established at Tsitsihar and
* Manchouli. Presently known sources do not explain why this was done,
but it is known that at about this time the Japanese decided to aid
Ataman Semenov's anti-Red force in the Za-Baikal area. In pursuance
of this policy, in March 1918 about forty men of the VII Division
under Lt. Col. Kurosawa traveled to Manchouli dressed in Russian
Page 34 1988 ROSSICA 111
uniforms. Their mission was to instruct Semenov's men in the use of
weapons bring provided by Japan, and the disguise was necessary
because they had no legal basis for being there. While sources do
not specifically state that the opening of cover post offices was
related to this disguised troop movement, the coincidence is
When the VII Division received its orders in August 1918 to move
west in force, Japan and China were partners in a military defense
pact concluded in May, and the Harbin office began openly handling
military mail. On September 10th, postal personnel dispatched from
Japan to staff a Kwantung Line-of-Communications Postal Section
arrived at Harbin, and from the 14th on, FPOs #5 through #8 as
previously noted were opened in quick succession.
Figure 3. # Bunshitsu dated comb postmark; top, Dai Go Yasen
kyoku Bunshitsu, meaning #5 Field Office Detached Office.
In regard to Harbin, however, a struggle was going on behind
the scenes. In secretly establishing an office as a branch of the
Changchun Post Office, the Kwantung Government-General apparently
planned that it should evolve into a regular public post office, part
of their postal system. Accordingly, when the army wanted a field-
post office established there. the Kwantung Government-General
declined to do so.
The army found it a problem not to have a fieldpost office at an
important hub with a heavy volume of military communications traffic,
and emphatically demanded it. After two months' delay, one was
opened but designated with the special term 'Bunchitsu,' apparently
to avoid acknowledging that the issue had been decided, and that
there had been a winner and a loser. However named, it was a major
facility under a chief with the rank of postmaster and a staff of 20
(ordinary fieldpost offices had only 3).
Presumably, any of the offices designated by these various terms
might be found to have had dated postmark devices, but so far none
ROSSICA 111 1988 Page 35
has been discovered for any branch office or the Detachment Personnel
* Garrison office, so it is believed they were not provided with
No stamps were used. A card or cover properly marked Gunki
Yubin (Military Mail) required only a fieldpost office postmark to be
received and passed through the domestic postal system in Japan.
Effective April 1, 1919, the forces deployed in North Manchuria
and Siberia under Kwantung Administration control were placed under
the command of the Vladivostok Expeditionary Force headquarters. All
fieldpost facilities were placed without change under Vladivostok's
Army Field Communications Service Postal Section.
This consolidation of command coincided with the end of the
initial phase of the Siberian operation, during which the mission had
been the expansion of territorial control. The primary mission for
the future was to be securing the areas already occupied. Divisions
changed from a wartime to a peacetime table of organization. World
War I divisions were 'square' divisions, with four regiments to a
division. The Japanese 'square' division at full strength had about
25,000 men. Following this change in organization, a division is
likely to have about half that number.
This change was effective as new divisions began to arrive from
Japan and the XII, VII and III were rotated home. The XII Division
in Maritime and Amur Provinces was relieved by the XIV Division. The
VII Division strung out along the CER in North Manchuria and into
Siberia was relieved by the XVI Division, while the III Division
occupying most of Za-Baikal Province was relieved by the V Division.
This process was begun at the end of March 1919 and completed in
8 .4.27 8.626 t 9 1
Figure 4a Figure 4b Figure 4c
Figure 4. Three types of fieldpost circular date stamps. On
all, the first character in the top inscription (right to left)
means #. It is followed by one or more simple characters
which are digits. Figure 4a shows an FPO mark of Yasenkyoku,
which always carries only a number on top, in this case #26.
Figure 4b is from a relay station or Yubin Tsugitatsho, always
a number followed by two characters at top. in this case #1 Tsu.
Figure 4c shows the sole Bunshitsu cds.
Japanese troop strength in Siberia reached its maximum during
this rotation as the XIV Division and one brigade (two regiments) of
Page 36 1988 ROSSICA 111
the V Division were being deployed, and the XII and III had not yet
The intervention in Siberia had grown out of events in Europe as
much as events in Russia. In like manner, during the initial phase of
operations in Siberia, great changes were underway elsewhere in the
world that would ultimately require the intervention to be ended. Ar-
mistice in Europe, the collapse and disintegration of empires and the
formation of new political entities were reshaping the western world.
In September 1918, an 'All-Russia Provisional Government,'
uniting various anti-Red factions, was proclaimed with its capital at
Omsk in central Siberia, but two months later Admiral Kolchak took
control by coup-d'etat. While dedicated and hard-working himself, he
ruled as a dictator and clashed with nearly everyone about him
possessed of resolution and ability.
Among those Kolchak alienated were his most able generals, and
in particular, the Czech, Rudolph Gaida, whose dashing military
exploits in opening the way to Valdivostok are part of the legend of
the Czech Legion. When the Red armies began their push east of the
Urals in the spring of 1919, their advance was relentless. By mid-
July they were besieging Chelyabinsk, and by mid-October they had
forced Kolchak to evacuate Omsk and flee to the east.
The Paris Peace Conference had concluded its work in June and
self-determination was the principle by which the national of central
Europe were being formed. An independent nation of Czechoslovakia
was becoming a reality. The urge to be part of these stirring events
was pulling the hearts and minds of the Czech Legionaires toward
their homeland. This combined with disaffection for the tottering
regime of Admiral Kolchak led them to renounce the obligation to hold
the Trans-Siberian Railway for the Allies, and to make evacuation via
Vladivostok their first priority.
In December 1919, Admiral Kolchak became a prisoner of anar-
chists at Irkutsk. His government collapsed and he himself was
executed shortly thereafter. On January 9, 1920, the U.S. informed
Japan that its forces would withdraw simultaneously with the final
departure of the Czechs. The last of the Czechs sailed from
Vladivostok in April, and the last of the U.S. Expeditionary Force
sailed after them. The British, Canadians and others had left
previously. The Japanese were now the only foreign military presence
remaining in Siberia.
In reaction to these various events, the Japanese send in an
additional division. One brigade (two regiments) of the XIII had
been mobilized and send to Za-Baikal Province in September 1919, and
following the U.S. withdrawal announcement in January, the second
brigade was mobilized and sent to Vladivostok. However, in February
the Japanese army began a gradual withdrawal. Consequently all Amur
Province fieldpost offices west of Khabarovsk were closed between
February 16 and March 20, 1920.
Meanwhile, the people of Za-Baikal, Amur and Maritime Provinces
were organizing their own regional government. On April 16, 1920,
ROSSICA 111 1988 Page 37
Table II Place Names by Geographical Location
Place Name between from Vladivostok
From Vladivostok south (by sea)
Novokievsk 31 55
From Vladivostok north
via Ussuri Railway
Ugorinaia 15.2 21.1
Junction east to Suchan
lukievskaia precise location undetermined.
Razdolnoe (Maritime) 25.3 46.4
Nikol'sk 23.4 69.8
Ussuri (or Ussuriysk) ? ?
Spasskaya 80.7 150.5
Suiagin virtually identical with above.
Iman 108.1 258.6
Bikin 73.6 332.2
Khabarovsk 145.2 477.4
From Khabarovsk west
via Amur River Railway
Bira 134.8 612.2
Arkhara 139.1 751.3
Zavitinsk 58.7 810.0
Bochikarevo 74.0 884.0
Junction south to
Kokka (No. Manchuria) 2.44
Alekseievsk 36.5 920.5
Ushumun 126.8 1047.3
Tygda 26.8 1074.1
Junction north to
Rukhlovo 156.0 1230.1
(Connects with Mogocha, 241.1 miles west, in Za-Baikal Province.)
Page 38 1988 ROSSICA 111
Table II Continued
Place Name between from Vladivostok
From Nikol'sk west to Chita and
Irkutsk via China Eastern Railway
Pogranichnaia (No. Manchuria) 146.7 216.5
Muling (also San-ch'a-k'ou or
Harbin 339.3 555.8
Tsitsihar 166.7 722.5
Po-k'o-t'u (Buhato) 167.3 889.8
Hailar 130.0 1019.8
Manchouli 116.0 1135.8
Oloviannaia 140.8 1276.6
Karymskaia 91.9 1368.5
Junction northeast to
(east to Sretensk 12.4)
Karymskaia west to Irkutsk
Chita 60.1 1428.6 via CER
1909.0 via Khabarovsk
Verkhne Udinsk 344.1
Junction south to
Irkutsk 302.9 2075.6 via CER
2556.0 via Khabarovsk
All locations appear in the order in which they are strung out like beads along the
main railways, except for those that are indented to show they were on a spur line
(e.g., Suchan) or not on the railway (e.g., Zeya).
ROSSICA 111 1988 Page 39
the Far Eastern Republic proclaimed its independence. On May 14th it
was recognized by the Soviet Government in Moscow. Was this to be
the independent, non-communist buffer state that Japan had wanted?
Japan obviously hoped so, and through the commanding general of the V
Division entered into negotiations with the new republic to arrange a
On July 3rd, Japan announced plans to withdraw from Za-Baikal
Province. A few days later, an armistice was concluded between the
Japanese Army and the Far Eastern Republic. The withdrawal was
promptly begun, and between July 19th and August 29th, all fieldpost
offices in Za-Baikal Province were closed, as well as those in North
Manchuria west of Harbin. Fieldpost facilities remained open only
from Harbin to the east and in southern Maritime Province.
Khabarovsk was evacuated, FPO #4 closing there in October 15th. The
number of offices remaining was one third of what it had been earlier
in the year.
In March 1920, a band of Red partisans had overwhelmed the
isolated garrison in Nikolayevsk at the mouth of the Amur River.
Later when a relief force arrived by Japan by seas, it found not only
the soldiers but all Japanese civilians had been massacred. This led
to the Sakhalin Province (or North Karafuto) Expeditionary Force, but
as noted earlier, that expedition and its fieldpost system are out-
side the scope of this article.
* The Vladivostok Expeditionary Force was to remain in Siberia for
another two years, but except for new deployments to meet outbreaks
of trouble in the Suchan valley coal fields and the Chien-Tao region
on the Korean border (reflected in movements of FPOs 3, 4 and 16),
dispositions remained essentially unchanged. The XI Division
relieved the V and XVI in northeastern Manchuria and southern Ussuri
regions well as the XIV elsewhere in the Maritime Province. The IX
relieved the XIII in April 1921, and in December elements of the VIII
Division were sent in. Meanwhile, relations with the Far Eastern
Republic worsened as the Communists gained political control. Japan
was reluctant to release its grip on the Vladivostok area. However,
under pressure from its former Allies at the Conference on Limitation
of Armaments then convened in Washington, and wanting something from
them in return, Japan announced in June 1922 that it would withdraw
from Siberia completely by the end of October, and on October 24th,
military post on the Siberian mainland was officially ended.
The author is deeply indebted:
to Messrs. Urata and Suzuki for permission to use their published
to Mr. Y. Aoki and Dr. Felix Bertalanffy for providing copies for
Study of the cards and covers from their splendid collections; also
to Mr. Aoki for sharing the fruits of his research into handwritten
history complied in 1922 by the last officer in charge of the
fieldpost in Siberia, a bound stack of pages now in the archives in
Tokyo available only to scholars; and also to Dr. Bertalanffy for
Page 40 1988 ROSSICA 111
providing a copy of his forerunner article published in Europe in
- to other members of the International Society for Japanese
Philately and others in Japan, U.S., Canada, Great Britain, and
Sweden who sent material for study;
- to Mr. F. Yano who kept me supplied with copies of articles
appearing in Japanese philatelic publications as well as other
background material in Japanese.
Urata Minoru, "Study of Siberia Expeditionary Fieldpost Offices,"
Keshi-In to Entaya #122, 1966.
Suzuki Takao, "A Study on Locating Japanese Field Offices: VI-The
Siberian Expedition," Fuiraterisuto, July 1973.
Aoki Yoshizo, "Fieldpost Offices of the Siberian Expedition," Kitte
Kenkyu, December 1983.
Onishi Jiro, "Siberia Expedition Postmarks" from "Japan's Military
Post," Nippon Yurakukai, 1966.
Izumi Kitte Kenkyukai, "Gunji Yubin Entaya Shu," 1975.
Spaulding & Weymer, "Japanese Siberian Intervention Military
Cancellations," Rossica #73, 1967.
Takahashi Osamu, "Hahei," Asahi Shimbunsha, Vol. I, 1973; Vol. II,
1973; Vol. III, 1976; Vol. IV, 1977.
"Nippon no Senki, Vol. I," Mainichi Shimbunsha, 1979.
Joetsu City Office, "The History of Takada City," Vol. II, privately
Goldhurst, Richard, "The Midnight War," McGraw Hill, 1978.
Morley, James Wm., "The Japanese Thrust into Siberia, Columbia
University Press, 1954.
ROSSICA NEW MEMBERS
1278 IRVING BARON, 6201 Commodore Sloat Dr., Los Angeles, CA 90048
1279 DR. STEVEN CAROL, P.O. Box 414, Holbrook, NY 11741
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(continued page 51)
ROSSICA 111 1988 Page 41
THE NIKOLAEVSK AFFAIR
by Ivo Steyn
[ED NOTE: The following article has caused considerable discussion
among the Editorial Board of the Rossica Journal and the Board of
Directors of Rossica regarding the question of whether or not to
print it. The conclusions may be controversial, to say the least,
and in that context the policy of the Rossica Journal is restated
here: the opinions in this Journal expressed by the authors are
their own, and the editors disclaim all responsibility for them.
We are aware that the true facts of the matter under discussion
may never come to light, as all the primary sources of information
are either unlocateable or deceased. However, we are also aware of
our responsibility to bring before the Russian philatelic community
such information as is available regarding the authenticity of
issues within our field of study. Consequently, we invite response
to this article from informed collectors and will print in future
issues responses which contribute to the overall body of knowledge
on this subject. KLW]
I don't collect the stamps of Nikolaevsk-na-Amur'e. Every
other issue from Civil War Siberia is welcome in my collection,
even the hideously philatelic Czech Legion issue, but not the 23
values of the Nikolaevsk issue. It has taken me two years to reach
this decision, two years in which I collected as much evidence on
the background of these stamps as I could find, and the final
conclusion was that the stamps, allegedly overprinted at
Nikolaevsk, were almost certainly the product of philatelic
speculators in Vladivostok. In this article I will try to present
the evidence in as objective a fashion as I can manage, so you can
draw your own conclusions. I have already drawn mine.
The destruction of a city
It is 1920. In European Russia, the Civil War has reached its
final phase, with Wrangel's Crimean bastion the last area con-
trolled by the Whites. In Siberia the Civil War is as good as
over. Kolchak is dead, although some of his most dangerous army
groups are still intact. West of Lake Baikal, the Red Army has
won; east of Lake Baikal there are still a few battles to be
The situation is made more complex by the presence of some
70,000 Japanese troops. During 1920 these will withdraw from the
Trans-Baikal and Amur oblasts, to concentrate in and around
Vladivostok, and on the Pacific coast.
At the mouth of the Amur River lies the fishing town of
Nikolaevsk. The number of people living there varies; during the
short fishing season some 5,000 temporary workers bring the total
number of inhabitants to about 15,000. In February 1920, when this
story begins, the town will have had about 10,000 people living in
Page 42 1988 ROSSICA 111
it. A small Japanese garrison of a few hundred men occupies the
ancient fort of Chnyrrakh, just outside the town.
To Nikolaevsk came the band of Iakov Tryapitsin, an anarchist
who called himself a Bolshevik and who had gathered some 800
desperadoes around him. In February 1920 he succeeded in capturing
Fort Chnyrrakh and, using the guns of the fort to threaten the town
of Nikolaevsk, forced the Japanese commander in Nikolaevsk to
Tryapitsin (Figure 1) had been a metal worker in Petrograd
before being drafted into the army to fight as a noncommissioned
officer during the First World War. In 1918 he appeared in Eastern
Siberia where he quickly made a name for himself as a partisan
commander. In 1920 he was only 23 years old, and his mistress/
chief of staff, a woman of 21. After the surrender of February 28,
the Japanese and the partisans actually managed a peaceful co-
existence for two weeks. Then the surviving Japanese soldiers
attempted to murder Tryapitsin and recover control of the city.
The last 136 Japanese soldiers eventually had to surrender and were
confined in the city jail. The Japanese military command in
Vladivostok had organized a relief force in the meantime, and
Tryapitsin soon knew he would not be able to defend the city
against a determined Japanese attack. He decided that nobody would
get the city. Some 6,000 inhabitants were advised to leave the
city. Most of them never returned. All "enemies of the people"--
i.e., everyone with anything worth stealing--were arrested and
killed. All civilians of Japanese extraction were killed. The
Japanese prisoners were burned alive along with the city jail. The
few stone buildings of the city--including Fort Chnyrrakh--were
dynamited, and fire was set to the wooden houses. Tryapitsin then
fled into the taiga. When the Japanese relief forces arrived, they
found corpses and smoking ruins, with only the stone chimneys
sticking out of the ashes (Figure 2). The city of Nikolaevsk had
ceased to exist.
Figure 1 Figure 2
Nikolaevsk would take a long time to recover. Since all
fishing boats and nets had been destroyed, the few returning
inhabitants were dependent on the good will of the Japanese army
ROSSICA 111 1988 Page 43
for food. I very much doubt if a completely destroyed city would
be able to shelter more that a few hundred people.
Tryapitsin was captured two months later by another band of
partisans, of more genuinely communist convictions. Tryapitsin and
25 others were tried and shot on the 25th of July 1920.
The Japanese would use the Nikolaevsk incident as an excuse
to postpone their departure from Siberia for two more years. It
wasn't until 1925 that they relinquished their hold over the north
half of Sakhalin Island, which they had kept occupied as a
guarantee for "satisfaction" for the Nikolaevsk victims.
We are fortunate in having an eyewitness account of the whole
affair. A church sexton, Anton Ovchinnikov, who had been a member
of Traypitsin's band, as well as of the court that finally
sentenced him to be shot (!), gave a very detailed statement which
was printed in a book called The Testimony of Admiral Kolchak and
Other Siberian Material, edited by Varneck & Fisher and published
in 1935. The same book also contains many other statements
concerning this incident.
A brief summary of the literature
If we review all the publications in which the Nikolaevsk
issue is mentioned, it becomes apparent that only a handful contain
new information. The earliest of these is a little booklet
published in April 1923 in Shanghai. Called The Stamps of Russia
in Asia, it was written by Simeon Pappadopulo, a Vladivostok stamp
dealer who had functioned as the unofficial distribution agent for
Siberian stamps. Many covers franked with Siberian stamps in our
collections originated with Pappadopulo. Soon after the communist
takeover of Vladivostok (October 25th 1922) he fled to Shanghai,
and from there to San Francisco. I believe he is no longer alive.
Pappadopulo's book contained a brief review of all stamps
issued during the Civil War in Siberia. He also quoted several
"official statements" concerning the origin of these stamps, in
full. I refer the reader to Rossica Journal 71, page 62, for the
text of the statement for the Nikolaevsk issue.
The statement purports to be from the "general directorate of
P. & T.," and contains a list of all values overprinted and the
number of each value (perf. and imperf.) that was overprinted. It
is signed by a P. Bazilewski, and Pappadopulo also refers to
endorsements by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and of the French
Consulate of Vladivostok. I will return to these details later.
The famous catalogs of the twenties seem to be based on the
Pappadopulo statements where the Nikolaevsk issue is concerned.
The catalog edited by Chuchin, and Serge Rockling's catalog, both
follow Pappadopulo, and the listings in the more general catalogs
like Scott, Yvert & Tellier, and Michel are similar rehashings of
the original information. Rosselevich mentioned the issue in his
Page 44 1988 ROSSICA 111
articles and warned collectors about the numerous forgeries of this
issue, but by now a new wrinkle has been added to the story: both
Chuchin and Rosselevich claimed that the canceller of Nikolaevsk
had been lost during the destruction of the city (an eminently
reasonable story, although it makes you wonder how the stamps
themselves survived to be overprinted a year later!) and that all
letters were taken to Vladivostok to be cancelled there before
going to their destination. Therefore all genuinely used stamps
should have Vladivostok postmarks. It is not known to me where
this story originated. It contrasts sadly with the cancelled
copies of the stamps, which invariably carry Nikolaevsk cancels of
In an excellent overview in Rossica Journal 71, Melvin M.
Kessler summed up the many mysteries surrounding the stamps. Eight
issues later, the same journal carried one of the most important
statements concerning Siberian philately, that of F. I. Chenakalo.
Chenakalo was--as reported by Dr. Alfred Wortman, who visited
his son in Miami--Postmaster at Khabarovsk from 1912 to 1918, and
Assistant Director at Vladivostok from 1918 to 1925. Chenakalo
himself described his position at Vladivostok as that of "...head
of the parcel service...". His overview of Civil War Siberian
philately was one of the most intriguing statements on the subject.
It contained many historical inaccuracies, which perhaps could be
excused as the tricks played on the memory of the writer by the
intervening years. Chenakalo showed his impressive holding of
Nikolaevsk stamps, which he claimed he "...bought directly at the
post office counter, to which (he) had official access." This is
not as strange as it sounds: several of the earlier statements had
mentioned that very few of the stamps had been sold and that the
rest had been handed over to the postal authorities at Vladivostok.
The incorrigibly corrupt Merkulov government of the time would have
no qualms about selling these remainders to collectors--who
presumably would not be able to use them for postage--and so the
remainders were probably sold over the Vladivostok counter.
Chenakalo stood squarely behind the legality of the issue and
denounced Pappadopulo, Stankov, and Borgest as speculators who were
involved with later issues such as the Diterikhs overprint and the
1923 Vladivostok Air Mail issue. The article is followed by a
short supplementary statement by Chenakalo's son, who reveals that
Pappadopulo got his hands on the surcharging handstamp at one time
and used it to produce four overprinted stamps not listed in the
original statements. From the statement it is clear the handstamps
(at least two of the original three) were at that time in
Vladivostok, or possibly in Shanghai.
In 1971 it was again the Rossica Journal which, in its 80th
issue, brought new information to light. In an article by the
Editorial Board, the forgeries and bogus items of the Nikolaevsk
issue were reviewed. The tally was disheartening: no less than
four forged cancellations were recorded--together responsible for
all known used Nikolaevsk stamps!--while for each value there
existed 3 or 4 different forgeries.
ROSSICA 111 1988 Page 45
In 1983 Ray Ceresa added several new forgeries to this list,
* and since then several more new forgeries have been found.
The Stamps Themselves
Let us return to the list of stamps issued, as quoted by
Pappadopulo, and--with only minor deviations--by Chenakalo and
Ceresa. On studying this list the following points become
a. No less than 23 different combinations of basic stamp and
b. The list contains oddities like 10/10 kop., 15/15 kop.,
10/20/14 kop.: all very strange surcharges!
c. Among the basic stamps used for the overprint we note 5 and 7
ruble stamps, the 3 kop. semi-postal stamp of 1914, as well as
lower denominations Arms types.
d. In the list of inverted surcharges quoted by Chenakalo and
Ceresa, we see a high number of stamps with an inverted
overprint. For some values, the inverted surcharges outnumber
e. As remarked by Ceresa, one of the 3 1/2 ruble stamps used for
the surcharge was very special: it had an inverted center.
Let me lapse into subjectivity for a moment and list my
* conclusions from these points:
ad a: This seems like an excessive number. If I were a philatelic
speculator masterminding the issue, this would be the kind
of figure I'd go for.
ad b: These surcharges are patently useless, but that can be said
of all surcharges; if you run out of stamps, you resort to
payment of postage in cash, as is well documented from the
Soviet hyperinflation period, but also seen in White
ad c: The highest value Arms type available in Eastern Siberia by
1921 was the 3 1/2 ruble stamp. Higher values had been
exhausted by the White inflation period of 1919-1920 when
postage rates were on the order of 2 rubles for a normal
letter. Another clue that these stamps were no longer
around is that they were not among the stamps surcharged by
the Far Eastern Republic in 1920-1922, which government
surcharged every stamp in sight!
ad d: Again, just what I'd want as a speculator.
ad e: This is the kind of stamp one would expect to find in a
dealer's stock, but not in a post office! In fact, the same
can be said for the high value Arms stamps, and for the 3
kopek Charity stamp.
Let me also point out the existence of pairs of stamps with
O tete-beche surcharges, another variety that points to speculative
Page 46 1988 ROSSICA 111
Summarizing, the stamps themselves raise grave doubts about
the whole issue. Certain basic stamps almost certainly came from a
dealer's stock, and the involvement of dealers in the issue would
also explain the high number of inverts.
The Chenakalo and Rand Holdings
The two greatest accumulations of these stamps known to me
were those of Chenakalo--illustrated in his article--and of the
late Charles Rand, whose collection was sold by auction in 1983.
The auction catalog clearly illustrates most of his Nikolaevsk
To begin with the latter, the Rand hoard included blocks of
four canceled with the dateless double-ring canceller now generally
recognized as forged. We note the occasional invert and also two
more puzzling items: a certificate apparently issued by the French
consulate, and a cover bearing a 15 kop. Nikolaevsk stamp. I will
return to these two items later.
The Chenakalo holdings--bought "...directly at the post
office counter..."--also contain a healthy (unhealthy!) number of
inverts, including the already mentioned tete-beche pairs. I urge
the reader to look up the illustrations in question; they are in
Rossica 79, page 25.
The most surprising observation we can make about the
Chenakalo holding is that it contains at least one forgery. The
sixth stamp on the second row--a 3 1/2 or 7 ruble stamp overprinted
20 kopeks--can be identified as a forgery (Ceresa type F5 (20 k))
by the characteristic dent in the "0" of "20." In personal
correspondence, Dr. Ceresa identified several other stamps among
the illustrations as forgeries as well. This puts the whole
Chenakalo statement in a rather dubious light. If we can't trust
his statement that he bought his stamps over the counter, the
question which of his statements we can trust raises itself
immediately. Unless we accept the possibility that forgeries were
sold over the Vladivostok post office counter, the Chenakalo
testimony must be treated with extreme caution. His fervent
insistence on the legality of the issue could not be interpreted as
a subjective statement by a disinterested party.
Certificates and Covers
Two more phenomena need to be discussed: the certificates
issued by the French Consulate and the Nikolaevsk-Vladivostok
I now know that there exist so-called "certificates of
authenticity" for several Siberian stamps issued by the French
Consulate at Vladivostok. I illustrate two of these: a complete
example with three Diterikhs overprints (Figure 3) and a further
complete example with a 10/2 kop. Nikolaevsk stamp (Figure 4). The
Charles Rand collection also contained an abbreviated certificate
with the very rare 10/10 kop. Nikolaevsk stamp.
vVu au Consulat de ?Frane d Vlo.divofitok
pour l'authtnti.itW dea tiwlwres-poste
di "'RI_,O: KI XII KRAI"' oi-oontre.
P.e Pr4seit est ddlivrd & iHr.D. SC3'f14d2 I 30 IN,
3Soretaire de oe Conulat.
Fait d Va1,livostoek, le 15 Ootobre 1l22 '0
Le Gonail de Franoe
iHous aousignL Rende aiJDii, Condul de F'ruaue
& Vladivostok, Chevalier de la Ltgion d'Hon-
neur, oertifions et atte8tons que e6 timbrie-
poste ui-oontre appartient & la adrie 6mise
par i'ex-Gouvemenent du Pria!our, en 1921,
pogr la RTgion de HikoladvaCk a/'Lamour (3i-
Le present eat dlivrd A 1ir. D.30EIRliiIU,
ecoretaire de ce Gonulat, qui a acquis 0o
timbre aujourd'hui-ulilme b la Direction des
a ostes de .Vladivostok, section des timbzree
mo retires de la circulation. H
SFait 1 Vl'Jadivost.i, le oinq Demre 1322.
.Le Consul de France .
ROSSICA 111 1988 Page 49
Before we examine these puzzling certificates in detail, we
must ask ourselves what the French Consulate was doing when it
issued these documents. Why would a consul feel any need to issue
such documents? Where were they sent? (to the UPU? To France?)
What legal status do they have?
All the certificates--I estimate there are about 12 in
existence--are signed by the French consul, Chevalier of the Legion
d'Honneur, Monsieur Rene Andre. I was able to check that the
French consul in Vladivostok was indeed a Mr. R. Andre, although I
have not seen his signature on other documents emanating from the
Consulate. Perhaps one of our French readers might be able to find
such a document in the archives of the French Foreign Ministry, to
compare the signature with the one on the Vladivostok certificates.
Examples from 1921 are always abbreviated and were issued to
a "Mr. Nicolet, secretaire sur poste." Examples with 1922 dates--
and my own two copies are the only ones I've seen so far--are not
abbreviated and were issued to a Mr. Scherbinin, "secretary of this
The text of the Nikolaevsk stamp certificate (Figure 4) is
"We the undersigned Rene ANDRE, French consul in Vladivostok,
Chevalier of the Legion d'Honneur, certify and attest that the
stamp affixed to this belongs to a series issued by the ex-
Government of the Priamur, in 1921, for the region of Nikolaevsk on
the Amur (Eastern Siberia).
This document has been issued to Mr. D. Scherbinin, secretary
of this consulate who has acquired this stamp this very day at the
Postal Administration of Vladivostok, Department of Stamps
Withdrawn from Circulation, Vladivostok, December 5th 1922."
We note with interest the date--more than a year after the
stamps were issued!--and the mention of a "Department of Stamps
Withdrawn from Circulation," which must have been a recent
innovation, as there could have been no need for such a department
in Imperial times.
While these certificates do strengthen the claim that these
stamps were on sale in Vladivostok--up to 15 months after they were
originally issued!--they are of no use for determining whether or
not the stamps were actually issued at Nikolaevsk. For that
purpose we need covers.
If we make an inventory of covers, mentioned in the
literature, and we discard the covers canceled with the obviously
forged cancellations, we are left with exactly three covers. One
was at one time in the Charles Rand collection, while another was
owned by Mr. Melvin Kessler. That last cover was recently sold by
the Kohler auction house for a healthy sum. A third, very similar
cover, also exists.
Page 50 1988 ROSSICA 111
All three covers carry one Nikolaevsk stamp, canceled by a
standard double-ring canceller reading NIKOLAEVSK PRIMOR. *d*. with
a July 1921 date. All three covers bear a strike of the oval ship
cancel SEVERNYE UEZDY v PAROKH, and a Vladivostok arrival/transit
marking VLADIVOSTOK g. The cover from the Rand collection also had
an arrival marking of Pervaya Ryechka (Figure 5).
Disregarding for the moment the fact that none of the three
covers carried the correct rate of 10 kopeks, and the too-good-to-
be-true nature of all the transit markings, the following
observations can be made:
a. The Nikolaevsk departure marking is in the modern spelling.
Since the "21" in the date is in a different type from the rest of
the date, it is probably a Soviet canceller with the year (post-
1923) omitted and the resulting blank space filled by a hand-drawn
b. The Ship cancel has a different text from all other known ship
cancels for this route (see Robinson types S5.1 a-v) and has never
been seen on legitimate covers.
c. The Vladivostok marking with a serial "g" and the charac-
teristic dents at the top is known on an array of philatelic covers
from Pappadopulo, and even on forged covers. It almost certainly
fell into Pappadopulo's hands sometime during 1920-1923 and was
used by him to cancel his remaining stock after he fled to
Shanghai. It is known with many different dates from 1920 to 1922
and was therefore complete with a variable date. I have not seen
it used postally.
d. The Pervaya Ryechka marking is completely legitimate, but it,
too, has the year "21" in a different type from the rest of the
I regard these covers as complete fabrications, probably made
ROSSICA 111 1988 Page 51
We are left with a series of 23 stamps of which no genuinely
used copies are known, and no covers. The basic stamps used for
the surcharge include stamps which no longer were available at the
post offices and quite likely came from a dealer's stock. The
issue includes a high percentage of inverts, including tete-
beche pairs. The most prestigious statement concerning their
legality contains at least one outright lie, and many inaccuracies.
The earliest known statement was made by a man who was a known
philatelic speculator, who produced forged and philatelic covers to
give the issue some respectability.
I don't collect the stamps of Nikolaevsk-na-Amur'e.
White, J. A. "The Siberian Intervention," New York, 1950.
Heller, O. "Wladi Wostok! Der Kampf um den Feren Osten," Berlin,
Varneck, E. and Fisher, H. H. "The Testimony of Admiral Kolchak
and Other Materials," Stanford University, 1935.
Pappadopulo, S. "The Stamps of Russia in Asia," Shanghai, 1923.
Rosselevich, M. A. "Les surcharges Russe de l'Extreme-Orient,"
Balasse Magazine, 1957.
Kessler, M. M. "The Nikolaevsk-on-Amur Provisional Issue," Rossica
Journal 71, pages 59-64.
Chenakalo, F. I. "The Story of the Postage Stamps of the Far
Eastern Republic," Rossica Journal 79, pages 19-25.
Editorial Board. "Forgeries and Bogus Items of the Nikolaevsk-on-
Amur Issue,: Rossica Journal 80, pages 20-24.
Ceresa, Dr. R. J. "The Postage Stamps of Russia, 1917-1923,"
Volume 3, parts 3-5, Cambridge, 1983.
ROSSICA NEW MEMBERS (continued)
1286 MASAYUKI WATANABE, 5-21 Nishidai 3chrome, Itami-shi,
Hyogo-Ken, 664 Japan
1287 JAMES R. RYBA, 11100 Warner #250, Fountain Valley, CA 92708
1288 EDGAR F. ALLEN, JR., 3622 Fairview Ave., Baltimore, MD 21216
1289 ARTHUR L. ZABENKO, Box 140, Brookside, NJ 07926
1291 ELI ANDREW HOMZA, 308 Scene Ridge Road, McKeesport, PA 15133
1292 MICHAEL A. SHIRER, 346 So. Jackson St., Green Bay, WI 54301
1293 BARRY BURROS, 160 East 48th Street, New York City, NY 10017
(continued page 57)
Page 52 1988 ROSSICA 111
CIVIL WAR IN SIBERIA AND THE FAR EAST
IN THE MIRROR OF PHILATELY (1917-1923)
by S. M. Blekhman
Published in Filatelia SSSR No. 10, 1985
Translated by George V. Shalimoff
[Editor's Preface: In 1978 our journal published the first and
second part of a research article of the well known philatelist
S. M. Blekhman with the above title (Filatelia SSSR No. 1 and 2,
1978). However, the author was unable to complete the publication
of this interesting work prior to his death. Recently, among his
family archives, a manuscript was found for a third part of his
article. A group of philatelists, well acquainted with the
intentions of the author, prepared this concluding part for
Provisionals of the City of Nikolaevsk-on-Amur
The stamps of Nikolaevsk-on-Amur are local issues and are
absolutely incorrectly included in all foreign catalogs since other
local issues of different cities are not described in these
catalogs. In the far off city of Nikolaevsk-on-Amur, practically
cut off from Vladivostok and greatly demolished by the Tryapitsin
bandits, a series of local stamps were issued by representatives of
the Merkulov government located in Vladivostok. The series
consisted of overprints on Russian stamps of the 1909-1917 issue
and on a 3 kop. semi-postal issued in 1915. Communication with
Vladivostok was very difficult and, in as much as it was necessary
to wait more than a month in order to receive a supply of new
stamps, the local "representatives of the authorities" decided to
provide an insignificant supply of stamps that were on hand in the
with an overprint "Nikolaevsk-on-Amur" and the face values of the
most commonly used values--10, 15, and 20 kop.--for internal and
external correspondence as well as registered letters.
As legal proof of this issue, the following "document" is
given in a brochure of the stamp dealer Pappadopulo (S. A.
Pappadopulo, Les Emissions de la Russie D'Azie, Shanghai, April
1923), issued at the time of the Japanese occupation (see Table 1).
In this "document" for some reason (probably to give it
authority) there are the endorsements of the "Minister of Foreign
Affairs" (sic, should be Internal Affairs, translator) and the
French consul in Vladivostok.
Pappadopulo, citing this "document," adds on his own
"officially the perforated and imperforate stamps were not
differentiated since in the recording books such a distinction is
not made. Perf and imperf variants are known of the following
values: 3.50 and 7 ruble with overprint of 20 kop., also a 20 kop.
ROSSICA 111 1988 Page 53
"Ministry of Internal Affairs
Main Directorate of the Post and Telegraph
8 May 1922
For the communication needs of the city of Nikolaevsk-on-Amur, in
1921 a representative of the Temporary Administration of Priamur in
this region made overprints on Russian stamps: "Nikolaevsk-na-
Amure (sic.) (N-na-A) Vremennoe Pravitelstvo Priamurya (II.B.II)"
[abbreviations for Nikolaevsk on Amur and Priamur Temporary
Government] and surcharged new values on 10, 15 and 20 kop. in
Nominal Overprint Numbers Used
1 k. 10 k. 200
2 k. 10 k. 300
3 k. 10 k. 199
4 k. 10 k. 199
10 k. 10 k. 9
14 k. 15 k. 49
15 k. 15 k. 150
35 k. 15 k. 150
50 k. 15 k. 200
70 k. 15 k. 50
1 r. 15 k. 150
20 k. 50
20 k. on 14 k. 50
1 r. 20 k. 32
3.50 r. 20 k. 82
5 r. 20 k. 15
7 r. 20 k. 39
3 k. 20 k. 29
Due to conditions of absence of transport and communications with
the outer world, only a part of these stamps were sold, and the
remainder of them were placed at the disposal of the General
Directorate of the Post and Telegraph by a government
representative. The Present certificate is issued to S. A.
Pappadopulo in reply to his request. The revenue fees are paid.
General Director of the Post and Telegraph
Page 54 1988 ROSSICA 111
stamp without a new value. The imperf 20 kop. stamp is quite rare;
only 4 or 5 copies are known. Also known are several cases of
All known used stamps were canceled with Vladivostok markers
because in Nikolaevsk-on-Amur allegedly all cancelers were lost.
Most of the unused stamps were sold to philatelists in envelopes,
sewn through on a sewing machine and sealed with four stamps of the
French consul. Inside of this with each stamp there was enclosed a
certificate with the consul's signature! Canceled envelopes with
these stamps are usually addressed to a well known philatelist of
that time--the pharmacist Borgest--or they are envelopes of his
company addressed to others.
All of these circumstances allow one to surmise that the
stamps were released with the participation of philatelists. The
"document," on which the basis of these stamps are included in all
catalogs of the world, was especially sent to the Yvert company for
inclusion of the stamp descriptions in their catalog. It was
composed by a philatelist or under his dictation since there was no
need to separately indicate at the post the stamps with overprints
20 kop. and 20 kop. on 14 kop.--at the post these stamps are
identical--nor was there need to stipulate especially the "1915
The insignificant number of these stamps issued, which were
not even used for the post but almost entirely got into the hands
of philatelists and stamps dealers, the single line of communi-
cation with the outer world through the Japanese-occupied
Vladivostok, and the cancellation of these stamps in Vladivostok
all give basis to affirm that these stamps have a very distant
relation to the post and are included in all catalogs without
H A 1,A -A-A
----- on.2 3o.
The overprints were made with handstamps, separately on each
postage stamp. Three types of handstamps were used--one for each
value. In Figure 1 these overprints are shown as they should on a
clear impression. In reality some part of the overprint at times
is not printed (Figure 2). To make the overprint on the 20 kop.
value stamps, the lower portion of the handstamp was covered with
paper since an overprint of a new value was not required because
the face values on these stamps (20 kop. perf and imperf, and the
20 kop. on 14 kop.) were clearly visible (Figure 3). The overprint
ink is black with a slight sheen, penetrating to the reverse side
of the paper.
ROSSICA 111 1988 Page 55
At that time the rate for an ordinary letter was 10 kop., 15
kop. for a registered letter and for an ordinary letter beyond the
borders of the "territory"--20 kop.
A compilation of the 1921 issue with the overprint
"Nikolaevsk-on-Amur" consists of the following stamps, all known in
A. Overprints on standard Russian stamps of the 1909 issue
1. 10 k. on 4 k. carmine (99)
2. 10 k. on 10 k. blue (9)
3. 15 k. on 14 k. blue, with (49)
4. 15 k. on 20 k. blue, with
on 14 k. carmine center
(see No. 10)
5. 15 k. on 15 k. red-brown with (150)
6. 15 k. on 35 k. red-brown with (150)
7. 15 k. on 50 k. lilac with (200)
8. 15 k. on 70 k. brown with (50)
9. 20 k. (without over- blue, red center
print of new value) (see No. 19)
10. 20 k. on 14 k. blue with red (50)
(without overprint center (together
of new value) with No. 4)
Page 56 1988 ROSSICA 111
11. 20 k. on 3,5 r. red-brown and green
(see No. 20)
12. 20 k. on 5 r. blue and light blue (15)
13. 20 k. on 7 r. dark green and rose
(see No. 21)
B. Overprint on the semi-postal Russian stamp of 1915
perfed 11 1/2:
14. 20 k. on 3+1 k. red and olive on (29)
a rose background
C. Overprints on standard stamps of Russia issued in 1917
15. 10 k. on 1 k. yellow (200)
16. 10 k. on 2 k. green (300)
17. 10 k. on 3 k. red (300)
18. 15 k. on 1 r. brown with (32)
19. 20 k. (without the blue, red center (50)
new value overprint) (together with No. 9)
20. 20 k. on 3.50 r. red-brown and green (82)
(together with No. 11)
21. 20 k. on 7 r. dark green and rose (39)
(together with No. 13)
Also known are 10 k. overprints on 5 k. imperfs although they
are not indicated in the "document." Inverted overprints are found
on the 10 k. on 1 k., 10 k. on 2 k., 15 k. on 14 k., 15 k. on 35
k., and 20 k. on 3,50 r., as well as a double overprint of the 20
k. on 7 r. value. In addition to those listed, in various foreign
catalogs there is evidence of the existence of normal overprints 10
k. on 5 k. perforated, as well as an inverted overprint 15 k. on 20
k. perforated (but without the "N on A" and (P.V.P."), a 15 k. on 1
r. perforated, and a 20 k. on 7 r. imperforate. However, the
authenticity of these stamps, not included in the compilation given
here, is doubtful, especially since some of them presented in the
mentioned catalogs are canceled with fake "Nikolaevsk-on-Amur
Fakes: The high value of these stamps resulted in the appearance
of a large number of fakes ranging from very crude to those
difficult to distinguish from the originals. One of the types of
fakes was provided on the back of a fake Borgest violet colored
cover. On these fakes, just as on the originals, the ink
penetrated to the back of the stamp. On most fakes the ink is not
visible on the opposite side.
Also found are canceled fakes, where often the overprint is on
top of a cancellation. To make such fakes, Russian stamps were
used with the cancellations "Nikolaev," "Nikolaevskoe," :Nikolsk,"
and others partially found on the stamp. The original stamps were
only canceled in Vladivostok.
ROSSICA 111 1988 Page 57
Fakers also made some number of fantastic overprints--on
stamps of other values, other ink, inverts, etc. In addition, as
was indicated, they made cancellations with fake Nikolaevsk-on-
The stamps of Nikolaevsk-on-Amur require careful expertization
and comparison with originals.
[Translator's Comments: The Blekhman article, written by others
after his death, sort of mocks the N/A issue. It follows the
Chuchin catalog and description as given by the Pappadopulo
brochure, The article calls the issue speculative with a
philatelic influence, but maintains the Chuchin premise that
Vladivostok cancels are the only genuine usage. Genuine usage on a
speculative issue by philatelists seems contradictory to me.
But like Steyn, the Blekhman article seems to question the
types of stamps used for the overprinting, suggesting more than
postal needs were involved here. Like many Russian writers, they
seem to want the readers to read something into the words which
they themselves do not clearly state.
As the opening paragraph indicates, they make special note
that the issue should be regarded as a local provisional, not a
regular stamp issue with standard postage stamp catalog status. As
philatelists, I am not sure what is their distinction, or why.
Just what were they worried about that this issue of N/A gets into
some stamp catalogs and other "locals" do not?
Most important, these Soviet writers do not have any other
documentation other than the Pappadopulo brochure and the Chuchin
catalog. Although they mock the statements in the Pappadopulo that
try to lend some legality to the issue, they really don't have
anything to contradict the brochure other than gut feelings.
Finally, though they repeat the Chuchin statement that only
Vladivostok cancels on this issue are real usages of the stamps,
they give no examples of used copies or a cover.]
ROSSICA NEW MEMBERS (continued)
1294 BILL WEBSTER, 105 Stephen Street, Levittown, NY 11756
1295 YURI ACKERMAN, 1460 N. Sandburg, #1110, Chicago, IL 60610
1296 JEFFREY RADCLIFFE, 902 Champions Pines Lane, Augusta GA 30909
1297 HANS REIMANN, 1526 Norland Drive, Sunnyvale, CA 94087
1298 WOLF RYZHIK, 156 Harvard Street #6, Brookline, MA 02155
1299 RACHEL AMMANN, 101 Seis Lagos Trail, Wylie, TX 75098
1300 MICHAEL ROGERS, 340 Park Avenue North, Winter Park, FL 32789
(continued page 69)
Page 58 1988 ROSSICA 111
SOUVENIRS FROM SIBERIA: 1914-1920
by Ivo Steyn
Several hundred thousand Austro-Hungarian POWs spent a good part
of World War I (and usually considerable time after WWI) in camps in
Siberia. The POW mail--usually cards--of these men has recently been
the subject of several articles which focus on the cards used, the
censor markings found on them, and the postal procedures to which
these cards were subjected.
This is a more light-hearted approach to what is a rather somber
subject. The time these men spent in Siberia not only generated an
impressive volume of depressing missives, some of the men also found
time to introduce a more tourist-like element in their mail.
In this note I focus on three extremely disparate "souvenirs" of
Siberia. All three items are beyond the scope of my main collection
interest--the Civil War in Siberia--but they make charming and/or
interesting illustrations in what is otherwise a rather gloomy
v u l co~t^U(CniW bonyl~.UimIi t to O.ibKO
SpannvacKM* u HibI0 3KOe.Y W361KRX.
The first of these souvenirs is a pair of POW cards sent to the
Krone-Zeitung in Vienna. They are Easter Greeting cards made by POWS
with the limited means at their disposal. One (Figure 1) was sent
from Razdolonoe near Vladivostok and has been enlivened by a
watercolored pen drawing. A poignant marker leads to "the road
home." Philatelically, the card is rather unexceptional: it does
not bear a postmark, only two common Petrograd censor markings.
ROSSICA 111 1988 Page 59
The other card (Figure Ib) was sent from Peschanka near Chita.
It has been signed by what appears to be a substantial fraction of
the 81st Infantry Regiment, the "indestructible Viennese." The
drawing is in purple ink and pencil. The card itself is a card made
especially for this particular camp, or complex of camps.
The second souvenir is of a more dubious nature. The Czech
Legion--that anomaly in Siberian history which fought against the
Communists during 1918-1919--had its own Field Post and several
stamps were issued, purportedly for this service. I say purportedly
because the entire I have seen with these stamps did not convince me
the stamps had been used to pay postage, and rather suggested that
they were more like souvenir labels.
Page 60 1988 ROSSICA 111
Souvenir #2 (Figure 2) is a ESKSL NSKVOJSKO
lot prettier than the Czech Field RU
Post stamps. It is a se-tenant
strip of five designs for Czech
Field Post stamps, one of which--
the silhouette of the soldier--
actually resembles the issued
stamp. The designs are printed
on excellent paper and exist in
at least three colors: dark
blue, light green, and mauve.
I don't believe for one
minute that these are actually
essays for Field Post stamps.
For one thing, the quality of the
paper is miles beyond anything
available in Siberia during this
period, as is the razor-sharp
quality of the printing. So I
suspect that these items were
produced sometime after the Czech
Legion's Siberian adventures,
probably in Vienna. However,
the labels make delightful
souvenirs. The designs do, in
fact, show aspects of the Czechs'
experiences in Siberia: the
armored trains, the forests
covered with snow.
The third souvenir (Figure 3)
I wanted to spotlight is of a more
traditionally philatelic nature.
It is, in fact, a desirable phila- LO VCUSIO
telic item in its own right: a
Red Cross postcard used as a blank
"postcard and sent from Nikolsk-
Ussuriisk (3-3-20) to Peking
(9-3-20). It is franked with 1
ruble in Arms stamps, the going
rate for a postcard abroad in the
While a Russian Peking cancel
on card is always nice to have, it
is the message on the reverse which
makes this card so nice. The card
was written by a German-speaking
Czech, from Sudentenland. He writes
about his forthcoming evacuation
On the 29th February I and the
citizens of the Czecho-Slovak Figure 2
ROSSICA 111 1988 Page 61
S Republic that remained in this camp have packed up our belongings and
in a few days we will be moved to Ruski-Ostrow, a collection point
some two hours' march over ice from Vladivostok. A few fellow
Sudentenlanders will stay here a little longer and travel home by
their own means. Our mail will be forwarded, I will let you know my
new address. The Sudentenlanders in Krasnaya Ryechka [a POW camp
near Khabarovsk] have also left. The mail which was brought over by
G. Wilhelm has not been distributed yet, because the J. want to
censor it themselves.
It looks as if in 6 months' time, all the brothers will have
left the Russian Republic.
Best Wishes and hand-kisses (sic),
4 p cK q ; .... ........ j.....
"" -- ---- ---------------- --- y "" ~ -7 ^
What more can a collector of Siberia want? I particularly like
the sly reference to the Japanese, who more or less controlled the
The writer's prediction that all Czechs will have left Russia
within six months turned out to be pretty accurate: By November
1920, all Czechs had been evacuated, and most of the POWs as well.
Page 62 1988 ROSSICA 111
SIX MONTHS IN SIBERIA
The Philately of "Red Siberia," November 1917-May 1918
by Ivo Steyn
It's not fair, I tell you. The philately of the Latvian Soviet
Republic--which lasted a few months in 1919--has been the subject of
Gold Medal collections. But other areas in the old Russian Empire
which started out as communist-dominated before becoming bulwarks of
the White Armies seem to have been ignored almost completely in the
literature, and one almost never sees a specialist collection of,
say, communist Baku (1917-1918) or communist Siberia (1917-1918).
Of course there is a simple reason for this. Covers from these
short-lived Red periods in the history of the Russian Empire's
peripheral areas are scarce and, most often, not much to look at--
franked with ordinary Arms types, usually sloppily cancelled, and
generally badly preserved. There are no glamorous overprinted stamps
or exotic definitive, no exciting inflationary rates or funny
But look at the bright side. No overprints means that there is
less chance of forgery (Which forger is going to forge a cover with a
couple of blah Arms types?). No usage of exotic definitive means
that, as often as not, the price of a 1918 item will be quite
reasonable, as opposed to the high prices asked for covers with
In fact, items from 1918 often languish in dealers' stocks,
spurned by customers who take one horrified look at a humble 1918
cover with a worn cancellation before deciding on some glamorous
purchase like a Georgian Republic Inflation cover or a Zemstvo cover.
Fine. Let them. In the meantime, we can pick up covers and cards
from a very interesting period for bearable prices.
This article will attempt to give an example for such an
ignored area, Red Siberia. Unlike places like the Don Oblast, where
the October Revolution was immediately condemned and Civil War broke
out almost instantly, Siberia actually remained firmly in communist
grasp until the Czech revolt overwhelmed the fledgling Soviets of
Siberia. The Czech revolt can be said to have started on May 25,
1918, so what went on--politically and philatelically--in Siberia
during those six-and-a-bit months from November 7th, 1917 to May
25th, 1918 (all dates in New Style)?
After the October Revolution there were essentially two
organizations competing for power in Siberia, Zemstvos and Soviets.
Zemstvos had been introduced in Siberia in June 1917. These latter-
day Zemstvos had considerably more power than their 19th Century
predecessors and controlled the police, elementary education as well
as medical services. Zemstvos existed on three levels: province
(oblast/gubernia), district (uezd), and canton (volost). Soviets had
been established throughout Siberia soon after the February
Revolution and had been building up their influence ever since then.
As elsewhere, the Soviets were dominated by the Bolsheviks, although
ROSSICA 111 1988 Page 63
Mensheviks were strongly represented as well. After the October
Revolution, the unequal struggle between Soviets and Zemstvos was
decided in a matter of weeks, with the Soviets emerging as the
victor. In some places, this struggle became violent. Just outside
Irkutsk, a fierce nine-day battle took place before the Soviets
assumed power there.
As soon as the Soviets were in control they began to dismantle
the authority of the Zemstvos. In April 1918, the formal liquidation
of the Zemstvos as organs of power picked up steam and by June 1918
all Zemstvo boards had been dissolved. If the Czech revolt had not
intervened, Siberia would have ended up safely under the control of
the Petrograd government.
But the emerging Soviets of Siberia had to face a number of
other threats as well. On New Year's Day of 1918, a mixed bag of
Russian officers, Chinese and Mongolian soldiers invaded Eastern
Siberia from Manchuli. The motley force was commanded by two very
nasty characters, Grigori Semenov and Baron Roman von Ungern-
Shternberg. Although the attack was unsuccessful--the invading band
was driven back into Manchuria in two weeks by the newly-formed Red
Guard--the chaos caused by the Czech Revolt later in the year would
give Semenov and von Ungern-Shternberg a second chance. Semenov
installed himself in Chita, von Ungern-Shternberg in Dauria, and the
two of them proceeded to make life nasty and cheap for everyone with
Bolshevik sympathies, Jewish parentage, or--most dangerous of all!--
wealth worth stealing. But this wasn't until August of 1918, well
after the Czech coup. A very similar attack on Red Siberia took
place in March 1918. This time the invading force came from Aigun,
and it attempted to take Blagoveshchensk, unsuccessfully, but the
Japanese participation in this invasion did not bode well for the
By now Siberia was under the control of a central Soviet
government, usually referred to as Tsentro-Sibir. Friction between
allied representatives and Tsentro-Sibir soon became apparent. In
Vladivostok, the Soviets had arrested members of the Chambers of
Commerce and had exacted a levy from American business agents. The
Allies soon began to realize that this new Soviet government had not
only left them in the lurch in the War in Europe, it could even cost
them money! The decision to intervene was taken soon thereafter, but
it wasn't until the deportation of the Czech Legion seemed to
encounter difficulties that a convincing pretext was found.
The Czech Legion, an army unit consisting of former Austro-
Hungarian soldiers of Czech-Slovak descent, which had fought on the
Russian side in Europe, was to be evacuated from Russia--where their
security was threatened by the advancing German armies--and
transported to Europe to be used on the sagging Western front. On
March 26, the Soviet government agreed to permit the Czech Legion to
be deported to Europe via Vladivostok, which means the approximately
S70,000 soldiers had to travel the entire length of the Transsiberian
During this trip, the Legion quarreled frequently with the local
Soviet authorities, and on May 14 a major incident took place at
Page 64 1988 ROSSICA 111
Chelyabinsk. A few days later the Czech Legion decided to attack,
and the Soviets were chased away all over Siberia within three
months. Soon after the start of the Czech revolt, anti-communist
governments sprang up under Czech protection and this was the end of
Soviet power in Siberia. For the next 1 1/2 years, Siberia was
White, and it wasn't until October 1922 that the last White
governments were driven out.
The struggle of the Czech Legion against the Soviets also gave
the Allies the pretext for intervention they had been looking for.
While a Japanese landing party had come ashore in Vladivostok even
before this--on April 4--the Czech revolt was the starting signal for
large-scale Allied--mostly Japanese--intervention. The combined
Czech-Japanese-White forces overwhelmed the fledgling Red Guard and
Red Siberia ceased to exist, at least for the time being.
What philatelic traces of all these events can we expect to
find? Disregarding for the moment the Field Post of the Czech Legion
and the Intervention forces--which didn't get into full swing until
later in the year anyway--we are left with ordinary civilian mail
from an area under Soviet control. This means that any entire we
find will be--or should be--franked according to Soviet rates. These
PERIOD POSTCARD LOCAL LETTER INTERCITY LETTER REGISTRATION
before 28-2-18 5 kop. 10 kop. 15 kop. 20 kop.
after 28-2-18 20 kop. 30 kop. 35 kop. 70 kop.
PERIOD POSTCARD LETTER REGISTRATION
before 10-3-18 8 kop. 20 kop. 20 kop.
after 10-3-18 12 kop. 30 kop. 30 kop.
Notice that for a while, postcards and letters abroad were
actually cheaper that those with domestic destinations, a fact which
caused much confusion and probably explains why we so often find mail
abroad franked at the domestic rates! Also note that domestic and
foreign mail rates were changed on different dates.
While beyond the scope of this article, it is worth mentioning
that these rates actually remained in force throughout Siberia long
after the expulsion of the Soviets, possibly until the beginning of
1919. This is interesting, because in Soviet-controlled European
Russia, the domestic rates were changed in November 1918; in Siberia,
however, the old rates lasted a little longer.
The covers we may find will be franked with ordinary Arms types,
or more rarely with Romanov Jubilee stamps, War Charity stamps or
even Savings Bank stamps. Regarding the latter, several covers from
Vladivostok with Savings Bank stamps are known where these stamps
have been used at face value. Romanov stamps are rather rare, and
the same goes for Romanov postal stationery.
ROSSICA 111 1988 Page 65
*A substantial percentage of mail was censored, visible in the
same censor markings as had been used during the previous years,
although new censor markings with the word KONTROL instead of TZENZUR
started making their appearance early in 1918.
Finally, the early months of 1918 stand out compared to the
post-Red era because there was still an operative railway link to
European Russia. This meant that mail could travel to or through
Petrograd and Moscow. After the connection had been severed this was
no longer possible. So it is quite possible to find Siberian mail
with Petrograd censor markings, or mail from Siberia to European
Russia with dates from the first half of 1918. This is yet another
reason why mail from this period looks pretty unexceptional.
I would estimate that a substantial percentage--if not the
majority--of Siberian mail from this period originated with Austro-
Hungarian POWs. I have found these people generally did not take
postal rates very seriously, and I possess cards with frankings of 26
kopeks, 40 kopeks, 7 kopeks, 12 kopeks, 24 kopeks, etc., etc.!
Finally a word about the rarity of such items. Any mail from
any part of Russia with a 1918 date is uncommon, for some parts more
than for others. Peter Ashford has pointed out many times that mail
from Transcaucasia with 1918 dates is very difficult to find. Mail
from Siberia is a little easier--mostly due to POW mail--but still
not all that easy. Non-POW mail is rare, so if you see an ordinary
cover from Siberia with a 1918 date, grab it!
Red Siberia is a strange collecting field. It is challenging,
yet at the same time rather lackluster. For me, covers and cards
from this period are chiefly desirable because of their historical
background, the aura of momentous events that they exude. They make
a very nice "forerunner" subject for the Siberian Civil War proper,
with all its overprints, and are less hampered by philatelic
contamination. And you can actually still find this stuff hidden
amongst the "Misc. Garb." at a reasonable price.
So why the lack of interest?
V. Karlinskii: "Filatelisticheskoe Issledovanie Frankirovki Picem
RSFSR i SSR (1917-1971)" in Sovietskii Kollektsioner 9, 1971,
J. A. White: "The Siberian Intervention." Greenwood Press, New
York, 1950. Reprinted 1969.
"* NOTICE *
* The Society now has all back issues of the Rossica Journal available
for purchase, commencing with Rossica 66. Cost to members is $7.50
for single issues, and $15.00 for double issues. Copies may be
obtained by forwarding a check in the proper amount, plus postage, to
the Secretary at 7415 Venice Street, Falls Church VA 22043 USA.
Page 66 1988 ROSSICA 111
THOSE LITTLE FLYING BOATS
by Patrick J. Campbell
One of the most intriguing stamps in my collection is Scott
No. C72 of Russia which depicts very clearly a strange little
amphibian flying boat with a single engine mounted on struts above
the wing and twin fins mounted on exposed structural members aft.
What looks like a motorcycle-wheeled undercarriage is folded up out
of the way. A single pilot is seated forward of the wing, and
someone in a motorboat is waving gaily from the water just beyond
as the little flying boat rises from the water. At first I
wondered whether the illustration was merely an "artist's
impression" or a serious illustration of a real aeroplane.
The stamp was one of a set of seven issued on 23 December 1937
for airmail usage which was described by Minkus as "various Tupolev
planes" and by Stanley Gibbons as "Air Force Exhibition." Zumstein
calls them "different aircraft types." Yvert et Tellier was no
more helpful. The Soviet catalog described the set accurately, but
unhelpfully, as "Soviet aircraft." None of the catalogs identified
this particular aircraft, but there was general agreement that the
stamps were printed by photogravure on beige-tinted paper and
A souvenir sheet, issued on 15 November for an Air Force
Exhibition, need not concern us as it did not show our little
amphibian. The Soviet catalog was also helpful in identifying the
designer of the stamp as V. V. Savialov, and Gibbons concurred so
it was clear we were looking at drawings from a reliable draftsman
with a good record for illustrating aircraft accurately.
One other interesting piece of information from the Soviet
catalogue was the quantity printed of each set:
10-kopek Yak 7 1,200,000
20-kopek ANT-9 1,000,000
30-kopek ANT-6 1,000,000
40-kopek "Amphibian" 750,000
50-kopek ANT-4 1,000,000
80-kopek ANT-20 1,000,000
1-ruble ANT-14 500,000
So you will find less "amphibians" than the others. The
inclusion of Yakolev's Yak-7, incidentally, belies the title
ROSSICA 111 1988 Page 67
Further research revealed an interesting story. The designer
was I. V. Tchetverikov (or Chyetverikov) who joined the Central
Design Bureau (TsKB) in Moscow in 1931, and, among other
activities, he studied the concept of a very small flying boat. In
1932, he moved to the Scientific Test Institute (NII GVF) and
worked in the Experimental Aircraft Manufacture-Civil Aviation
About this time, the Soviet Navy decided that they had a need for a
reconnaissance aircraft that could be deployed aboard an ocean-
going submarine. The idea was to have the aircraft stored in a
cylinder 8-feet in diameter and 240 feet long. The specification
called for the aircraft to be taken out of the hanger and unfolded
and be ready for take-off within five minutes. The British had a
similar concept with the Parnell "Peto" that was designed for the
ill-fated submarine M-1.
As a result of the Russian naval interest, a prototype was
designed and constructed in the spring of 1934, and it was
designated OSGA-101. This is the machine on Scott C72. The engine
was a 5-cylinder air cooled radial of 100 horsepower, designed by
A. V. Shvetsov, and known as the M-11. There was provision for a
crew of three. Construction was mainly of wood but the twin fins
and tailplane were carried on a steel tube structure. The wing
span was 11.4 meters and the craft had an empty weight of a mere
630 kg. The prototype incorporated a hand-cranked retractable
undercarriage, and wooden floats for lateral stability on the
water. The first flight was in July, piloted by A. V.
Krzhizhevskii, and maximum speed proved to be 170 km/hr. with
landing speed of 75 km/hr. and a range of 400 km.
A second prototype was constructed, designated as the SPL
(Samolyet dlya Podvodnikh Lodok or airplane for submarine boats);
this model incorporated the necessary folding features and omitted
the retractable undercarriage; it was a pure flying boat. The
wings folded back on skewed hinges, and the motor retracted
backward, with the support struts sliding aft along the tail booms
until the engine lay between the booms, with the two-bladed
propeller trained fore-and-aft. The empty weight of the SPL was
reduced to 592 kg. and flight tests in early 1935 in Sevastapol,
with the same pilot, showed the speed to be 186 km/hr.
Unfortunately, the seaworthiness was deemed below the requirements
for operating in the open ocean, and the whole project was
cancelled with no further procurement.
The OSGA-101 prototype was given to Osoaviakhim (the Civilian
Society for Assistance to the Aviation and Chemical Industries; see
Rossica Journal, Vol. 89, page 49), rechristened Hydro-1 (or Gidro
1), and exhibited at the Milan Air Show in 1936.
On 21 September 1937, the intrepid A. V. Krzhizhevskii in the
Hydro-1 established a world record speed of 170.2 for Category 2
(500 to 1,000 kg.) seaplanes in a 100-kilometer closed circuit.
On 7 October, he achieved a further world record for the same
class, by flying from Odessa to Gadzhibei, a distance of 470.7 km.
Can anyone locate Gadzhibei for me?
Page 68 1988 ROSSICA 111
That is the story of Scott C72, a strange aeroplane to
celebrate by a stamp because it failed to achieve its design
purpose and never went into production; in fact, all it's
significant flights were accomplished by the same man. But maybe
that is just hindsight, for at the time of issue of the stamps,
December 1937, perhaps two more records were considered enough and
there was still hope for the OSGA-1 for some other purpose.
Our next little flying boat is quite another story; this was
V. B. Schavrov's fine little Scha-2 amphibian which achieved
quantity production and enjoyed a long life with occasional flashes
of brilliance in the public eye.
The Scha-2 or Sh-2 can be seen on two stamps of Russia, on
Scott C58 (if you look closely) and on C114, but first a few words
about the background of this fine little aeroplane.
V. B. Shavrov joined OMOS (the Department of Marine
Experimental Aircraft Construction) on its formation in 1925. His
prime interest was in small amphibians, and, with a little
financial help from Osoaviakhim, he decided to build it himself in
his one-room flat. This posed an even tougher problem than the
need to get the SPL in a submarine, for the flat was small, and the
aircraft, disassembled, of course, had to be taken down a stairway.
This prototype was designated Sh-1, and it was constructed, piece
by piece, during 1928 and 1929. Construction was mainly wood and
fabric, with a minimum of metal. One of the construction features
was a wooden structure protected by layers of varnished cloth, an
idea that was used extensively later on other Soviet aircraft.
Launching was in June of 1929 at Grebno Port, and tests begin with
L. I. Hicks (Giks) and B. V. Glagolyev.
In August, the Sh-1 was flown to Leningrad, and later to
Moscow for official tests. The Sh-l was later demolished by the
famous pilot V. P. Chkalov (see Scott No. 1693 and Nos. 636 to
The success of the Sh-1 led directly to the Sh-2 (Scott C58
and C114.); this is the amphibian that went into production at the
Krasny Lyotchik (Red Airman) factory in Leningrad, formerly the
Russo-Baltic Carriage Works. This was the factory that had built
hundreds of U-i trainers (Avro 504K) for the Red Air Fleet and
ROSSICA 111 1988 Page 69
Osoaviakhim, then the Sh-2, and later went on to produce the
incredible U-2 trainer (PO-2) which will need an article of its
own. GAZ-3 was renumbered GAZ-23 to add to the general confusion.
The Sh-2 was structurally similar to the Sh-1 with the hull of pine
and ash, plywood, and casein-glued fabric finally varnished. The
engine mount, nacelle and center section used metal as did certain
fittings. The dimensions of the Sh-2 were increased and empty
weight increased from 535 to 680 kg. One peculiar feature was the
two wheels mounted at each end of a long axle that moved up and
down a curved slot in the fuselage to retract, by handcrank and
worm-drive! The performance of the Sh-2 was remarkable, and with 3
persons aboard it attained a top speed of 130 km/hr with a gross
weight of one metric ton. Range was 800 km. and endurance up to 11
hours, so it made a fine reconnaissance machine.
The first test flight was 11 November 1930 with pilot
Glagplyev. The production quantity was from 300 to 700, depending
on whom you believe. The Sh-2 operated on wheels, afloat, or on
skiis in every part of the Soviet Union and over the northern
oceans. They were used for frontier and fisheries patrol, civil
transport, mail carrier, forestry, ambulance work, training and
military liaison. The most widely known use of all was a
reconnaissance aircraft for the icebreakers, and for some of the
reinforced cargo vessels on the Northern Sea Route, where the
little amphibian's wings could be unfolded and lowered over the
side for a take-off from the open sea. After the ice crushed the
cargo vessel "Chelyuskin" in 1933, the crew unloaded their Sh-2
onto the ice and the pilot, M. S. Baboushkin, flew out to safety.
For the full story, see Rossica 90/91, pages 52-62.
In 1939, the Soviet airline began to assemble Sh-2s and later
went into full production, adding several hundred to the production
run. It is said that production continued after the Great
Patriotic War, with some improvements such as a glazed cabin; this
version was designated Sh-2 bis. The only other major improvement
during its lifetime was replacing the 100 h.p. M-ll engine by a 115
h.p. M-llh. Some versions flew without the wheels installed; these
included the Sh-2s (Sanitarnyi) ambulance version that carried two
stretchers. The Sh-2 was still in use as a crop-duster in 1952,
and some examples were still flying in 1964. Apart from its use by
Aeroflot, it seems that the Ukrainian airline Ukrvozdukput also
used the Sh-2.
ROSSICA NEW MEMBERS (continued)
1301 JOHN L. ROUSE, 2703 Bartlett Lane, Bowie, MD 20715
1302 WALTER POWELL, 436 Carter Street, Rochester, NY 14621
1303 DONALD WORTMAN, 1118 Bath Street #5, Santa Barbara CA 93101
1304 WILLIAM P. FARRELL, 309 Park St., West Springfield, MA 01089
1305 HERBERT P. SAUVAGE, 10537 S. Hale Ave. #2A, Chicago IL 60643
1306 ARNOLD F. HOLLEMAN, c/o Royal Netherland Embassy, 7 Rue Eble,
75007 Paris, France
Page 70 1988 ROSSICA 111
RECENT LIBRARY ACQUISITIONS
by David Skipton
The information boom continues to warp the library's shelves
with original imperial sources once again comprising the bulk of
recent additions. If current orders are successful, practically
every facet of imperial-period postal rules, regulations, and
instructions will be accessible by the membership. A few of the
1. "La Russie a la fin du 19 Siecle," by M. W. de Kovalevsky (ed.),
Published under the direction of the Russian Minister of Finance,
this book covers a number of non-postal topics but has 7 pages of
broad outline on the postal, telegraphic, and telephone systems.
Xerox, loan out, or purchase.
2. "Pochtovo-telegrafnyj zhurnal," official version, St. Petersburg,
Of the two versions of the "Post-and-Telegraph Journal" printed from
1888 to 1917, the official is far more elusive than the unofficial.
The latter was published once a month, while the former came out
weekly. It contained all the departmental circulars, instructions,
news of offices opening, closing, changing in status or acquiring new
names. The library now has all 52 issued for 1904, and a gold mine
of information they are. Microfilm, loan out, or purchase.
3. "Myestnye uchrezhdeniya pochtovo-telegrafnago vyedomstva,"
St. Petersburg, 1907. (Local Establishments of the Post-and
Much the same as the "spiski" of other years--lists post-and-
telegraph offices, including those at railroad stations and volost'
administrations, what operations they conducted, and on what postal
route they were located. Microfilm, loan out, or purchase.
4. "Postanovleniya po pochtovoi chasti, Chast' I. Pravila
pochtovykh snoshenii," St. Petersburg, 1909. (Postal
Administration Statutes, Part I. Regulations for Postal
This ranks in importance with the 1885 "Sbornik postanovlenii..."
(see Rossica 108/109). Consisting of 1,072 articles, it covers every
aspect of internal postal operations, from ordinary correspondence to
the more esoteric forms of mail. A must for the serious postal
historian able to read Russian. Approximately 350 xerox pages. Loan
out or purchase.
5. "Lois et Reglements Douaniers Concernant l'Importation en Russie
des Marchandises par Envois Postaux," Petrograd, 1916.
Published by the Ministry of Finance, this WWI booklet of 63 pages
concerns the Customs regulations on items imported into the Empire by
post. An important source for anyone interested in package mail.
Xerox, loan out, or purchase.
ROSSICA 111 1988 Page 71
6. "Instruktsiya po obmenu mezhdunarodnykh pochtovykh posylok,"
NKPT, Moscow, 1927. (Instructions on Exchange of
International Mail Packages.)
A how-to booklet for postal workers dealing with package mail. All
the necessary postal and custom forms are illustrated. Xerox, loan
out, or purchase.
7. "Postanovleniya NKPT SSSR po Pochtovoi Chasti 1926-1928," Moscow,
1926-1928. (Postal Administration Statutes of the USSR
People's Commissariat of Posts and Telegraphs.)
Essentially a Soviet version of the imperial "Post-and-Telegraph
Journal," official edition. Xerox, loan out, or purchase.
8. The Norman Epstein exhibition of Mount Athos.
This award-winning exhibit is now on xerox in the library. A wealth
of information on this subject, and an opportunity to see extremely
rare and unique items. Xerox, loan out, or purchase.
My thanks and appreciation to the following people for their
support of and donations to the library: Dr. R. J. Ceresa, Ernst
Cohn, Norman Epstein, Leon Finik, Mike Hvidonov, George Murdoch,
Vsevolod Popov, Ivo Steyn, Horst Taitl, Joe Taylor, Gordon Torrey,
and Ken Wilson.
CHANGES OF ADDRESS
594 JOSEPH GERACI, P.O. Box 577, Washington, D.C. 20044-0577
647 JOZEF KUDEREWICZ, 1661 Belmont St., Manchester NH 03104
904 DON E. HELLER, 11718 Fairpoint Drive, Houston, TX 77099
970 PAUL B. SPIWAK, 42 Irving Road, New Hartford, NY 13413
1038 MICHAEL ZAITSEFF, P.O. Box 202, Concord, NSW 2137, Australia
1054 MICHAEL TIHOMIROV, 6540 Montrose Street, Alexandria, VA 22312
1091 JOSEPH SEDLAR, P.O. Box 528, Vestal, NY 13851-5098
1110 BOHDAN PAUKE, 2329 W. Thomas, Chicago, IL 60622-3553
1120 G. M. MAGURA, 912 S. 248th Street #C-16, Des Moines, WA 98198
1167 S. BABAJEFF, Zaagmoleng,2906 R.J. Capelle AD Yssel, Netherlands
1195 JEROME NORTON, P.O. Box 432, Syosset, NY 11791
1223 RUSSELL OTT, P.O. Box 157470, Irving TX 75015
S1252 ANATOLY KOVALEFF, c/o Merchant Accountants, 193 West Terrace,
Adelaide, South Australia 5000, Australia
1255 PHILLIP SHAFER, 14208 N.E. 75th St., Redmond, WA 98052-4135
(continued page 77)
Page 72 1988 ROSSICA 111
The purpose of the member-to-member adlet section is to allow
members to advertise special requirements and interests and to make
contact with fellow collectors for the acquisition of needed
material and information. The adlets are not designed for purely
commercial users, but as a service to individual collectors in the
pursuit of their philatelic inquiries. The rates have been kept
purposely nominal to cover printing costs only. Due to minimum
printing page format requirements and cut-off deadlines, Rossica
cannot guarantee that such adlets will be printed in the next
Journal issue, but all ads will be processed on a first come, first
served basis. Finally, since Rossica cannot assume any responsi-
bility for transactions resulting from member responses to adlets
nor get involved with mediating disputes, members are cautioned to
be fair in offering and honest in responding. Any material of
value sent through the mails should be insured for each member's
protection. The regulations and prices for adlets are as follows:
1. Rossica adlets will be limited to 6 Journal lines, each
consisting of 68 characters or spaces per line.
2. The price per adlet line is $1.00 per issue.
3. Each adlet must include the name and address of the member
placing the ad.
4. No general buy or sell ads will be accepted as adlets. The
Journal makes different provisions for strictly commercial
5. Adlet service is available to Rossica members only.
6. All adlets will be accompanied by a check for the correct
amount made out to Mr. Norman Epstein, Treasurer,
33 Crooke Avenue, Brooklyn, New York 11226.
7. All adlets and checks will be mailed to Dr. Kennedy Wilson,
Secretary, 7415 Venice Street, Falls Church, Virginia 22043.
WANTED: Covers. Used abroad and imperial dotted numerals. Buy or
trade. Send description and price. M. R. RENFRO, Box 2268,
Santa Clara, California 95055.
WANTED: TURKISH covers and cards before 1919 with Turkish
franking. ROBERT W. STUCHELL, 1027 Valley Forge Road, Unit 211,
Devon, Pennsylvania 19333.
RUSSIAN REVENUES (Fiscals), Vignettes (Labels), Seals, Locals
(Zemstvo), Fiscal Paper & Documents wanted. Imperial, States,
Armies & Soviet. Will exchange or purchase. MARTIN CERINI,
21 W. 12th Street, Huntington Station, New York 11746.
WANTED: TANNU TUVA SG 115 119, either mint or CTO, no faults.
Also Correspondence with other Tuva specialists. M.A. SHIRER
346 South Jackson Street, Green Bay, Wisconsin 54301
ROSSICA 111 1988 Page 73
40TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE RUSSIAN SCOUT POST
by R. Polchaninoff
In Rossica Journal No. 61, 1961 I described the creation of a
Scout Post by Russian refugees in displaced persons camps in
Germany following World War II. Although the people of the camps
have long since dispersed, this private post continues among those
displaced persons who came to America and still belong to the scout
movement. I would like to discuss some of the "philatelic" aspects
of this post and give a brief historical description of some of the
The first Boy Scout troop in Russia was organized by Oleg I.
Pantuhoff in 1909 in the city of Pavlovsk near St. Petersburg just
a year after General R. S. Baden-Powell started the scout movement
in England. Although the scout movement was abolished after the
establishment of Soviet power in Russia, the appeal of the program
was such that it continued among the Russians in exile, and even
among the refugee camps following WW II. It was in these latter
camps that the Scout Post began.
OFTWE RUSSIAN BOV SCOUT MAUL
Easter of 1946 was approaching, the first Easter following the
war. The scout troop at the Moenchehof displaced persons camp in
Germany decided to restore the custom of sending Easter greetings
to friends. Scoutmaster Andrew Donner made a drawing for a
greeting postcard on a mimeograph stencil and printed around 200
copies on unused German field post cards. For the delivery of the
postcards within the camp I organized the Scout Post and issued
stamps for this purpose. From a design by Boris Kirushin, stamps
were printed with a mimeograph on the unused sides of old German
forms of a blue color. Two values were printed at the same time
corresponding to the German postal rate--12 pfennig for postcards
and 24 pfennig for letters. The 12 pf. sta-mp had a drawing of a
Page 74 1988 ROSSICA 111
church on a background of the scout lily emblem and the 24 pf. had a
drawing of an egg with the cyrillic letters "XB", meaning "Christ has
risen." The designs are shown in Figure 1 on a souvenir sheet to be
Thus on April 18, 1946 the Scout Post was created in the
Moenchehof camp with what I believe are the first Easter stamps in
the world. One hundred and ninety six sets were printed before the
mimeograph stencil was ruined.
Scoutmaster Donner designed
a second set of a simpler design
of the Scout lily consisting of
12 and 24 pfennig values and a
postage due of 50 pf. for letters 2 2 2 24
placed in a postal box without
stamps. There were 330 copies
of this set printed as well as
2,064 copies of just the 12 and
24 pf. values (Figure 2). They i
were printed in black ink on 4 1
unused German forms on thin
They were used until December
of that year at which time a new
issue appeared (shown in Fig. 3). 42 12 1
It was printed by typography on the
backs of old Russian calendars.
The paper was white and watermarked
with wavy lines. The stamps were
imperforate. The horseman on the
design depicted Bogdan Khmelnitskii. 2 12 12 2
In January 1950 the issue printed
on the old calendars was perforated
as shown in Figure 4. The sheet
size was 193 x 143 mm. Figure 2
When I created the Scout Post, I was only a novice philatelist
and did not suspect that our stamps would interest true collectors.
Gradually the news of our Scout Post reached German collectors who
were interested in "foreign" stamps issued on German territory,
especially those used on letters and postcards that went through the
Scout Instructor George Zhurin emigrated to the USA in December
1949 and created a separate Scout Post in New York using a circular
marker with text in Russian, ordered in 1950 from Munich. Zhurin was
in charge of the New York section of the Scout Post prior to my
arrival in October 1951.
The first stamp of the Scout Post in America was issued December
24, 1952. They were printed from old cliches (the Peter the Great
monument) on gummed paper. The printed value was still in German
ROSSICA 111 1988 Page 75
0 ______ ,------------------
Figure 3 Figure 4
Money denomination 18 pf. and they were sold for 3 cents,
Corresponding to the American postal rate at that time.
The 10th anniversary of the Scout Post in 1956 was noted with
the issue of a souvenir sheet 103 x 83 mm with an impression of the
first Easter stamps (Figure 1). It was printed on white sheets with
The last time that a set of stamps was issued in German pfennigs
was July 13, 1957. From October 25, 1957 the Scout Post in New York
decided in favor of US currency.
In 1951 when the Scouts on Stamps Society was formed in the USA,
I quickly joined. I learned from other members that there are
private posts in the USA, as well as in other countries, which
deliver letters from localities where there are no post offices to
the nearest federal post office and that such posts are called "local
posts." They are allowed to affix their own stamps in the lower left
corner of an envelope and cancel it with their own markers. The
usual US postage would appear in the upper right corner. The Russian
Scout Post had special occasions to do this as described below.
On November 3, 1962 our Scout Post issued a cachet cover and
jubilee stamp on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of Fort Ross
in California. Fort Ross was the site of a Russian fur trading
settlement. For this event 600 stamps and 500 envelopes were issued.
The cachet on the left side of the envelope depicts Fort Ross with
corresponding text (Figure 5). The envelope was franked with a US
stamp in the normal manner and below to the left was a Scout Post
stamp. The stamp was green with black lettering overprinted "1812
Fort Ross 1962 5 cents" in four lines with a line of the overprint
Page 76 1988 ROSSICA 111
crossing out the date "1909" of the Scout Post stamp. Since Fort
Ross does not have its own US post office, Scoutmaster Michael
Danilevski (now the head of the Russian Scout Organization) canceled
the Scout Post stamp with a marker of the San Francisco troop and
delivered the envelopes to the nearest US post office in Jenner, a
small community at the mouth of the Russian River on the Pacific
Ocean, 60 miles north of San Francisco.
In 1979 the Russian Scouts Outside of Russia celebrated their 70th
anniversary. Celebrations for this event were made at the IVth
National Jamboree of the Russian Scouts at a forest site purchased by
the New York Chapter. It was decided to name the campsite New
Pavlovsk after the city of Pavlovsk in Russia where the first Russian
scout troop was established in 1909. A set of two stamps of the
Scout Post and a marker were ordered with corresponding text in
English. A first day cover of this post of the camp in 1979 is shown
in Figure 6. The stamp is printed in black ink on green paper.
The Local Postage Stamp Society which was created in 1972 in the
USA invited me, as the one in charge of the New Pavlovsk Scout Post,
to join and register our post as one of America's "local posts."
In the summer of 1985 during a Troopleaders Course in New
Pavlovsk, a new "local post" stamp was issued with the emblem of the
course consisting of a white log and the red flame of a campfire on a
background of a blue oval. On the first day of issue, July 1, 1985,
85 letters with the first day inscription were sent to the nearest US
post office in Northville, New York.
post office in Northville, New York.
ROSSICA 111 1988 Page 77
JUL 25 __
On July 14, 1986 the Scout Post in New Pavlovsk began
operations. On the eve of that day at a camp fire, I told the
history of the Scout Post and promised to glue a stamp of the Scout
Post on letters brought by everyone on the opening day. There were
43 letters posted with the added marking "First Day of Operation."
The Scout Post in New Pavlovsk operates only for a period of 4-5
weeks of the summer camp. We look forward to many interesting issues
in the years to come.
CHANGES OF ADDRESS (continued)
1256 IVO STEYN, Postbus 16636, 1001 RC Amsterdam, The Netherlands
1257 LEON SELLARDS, 1739 Hiawatha Drive, Virginia Beach, VA 23464
1259 JOHN STEELE, JR., P.O. Box 7603, North Augusta, SC 29841-1603
1275 LOUIS HORNBERGER, 903 Beaver Street, Bristol, PA 19007
Page 78 1988 ROSSICA 111
THE LOCALLY MADE BOROVICHI ZEMSTVO STAMP
by M. Minskiy
[Translated from Filatelia SSSR 9/84 by Richard Dallair]
In 1876 the rate on Borovichi Zemstvo mail was reduced from five
to three kopeks. This resulted in the appearance of a new issue of
stamps, but collectors found out about this too late. Those stamps
were discovered in the collection of the postal museum in St.
Petersburg by the renowned philatelist Fedor L'vovich Breitfus, and
they were described in the journal Le Timbre-Poste [The Postage
Stamp], No. 218 of February 1881. In April 1884 the journal (issue
No. 256) reported on the existence of those types of stamps, and in
issue No. 269 of May 1885 the official report of the Borovichi
Zemstvo Council was printed: "The stamps were in use from 10 March
to 15 April 1876. Of the 1,570 copies, 880 were sold. Since there
was a delay in the arrival of stamps which had been ordered, the
district land surveyor, Mr. Eduard Dolbert, made them by the litho-
graph method. There were 25 stamps in a sheet, five to a side; each
stamp was a variety of a bronze colored drawing on white paper."1
The thickness of the paper was 0.1 mm, and the dimensions were 23.5
to 24.5 mm by 24.75 mm. The stamps were issued imperforate with
The rough drawing was laid down sequentially, frame by frame, on
the print form of the lithograph stone. When stamps were made with W
such equipment, each stamp was a unique type on the sheet and there
were differences in the imprint of the face-value number "3" in the
center of the stamp, in the capital letter "K" and small "k" in the
word "Kopeyki", in the length of the word "Borovichskaya" and its
shift to the right or to the left, in the distinctive features of the
printing of the different letters and the thickness of them, and in
other details. The government stamps which had been ordered were
finally put into circulation on 15 April, and the "local issue" was
It would seem that the report of the Borovichi Zemstvo Council
and photocopy of the block of 10 stamps (2x5) cited by C. Schmidt and
A. Faberge could establish a precise reconstruction of the sheet of
stamps of the Borovichi "local issue."
Unfortunately, in due course the 10-stamp block turned out to be
cut, but, all the same, seven of its stamps were successfully
consolidated again later. Only the three lower stamps (the two on
the left and the one on the right) were replaced by canceled copies
of those same types of stamps. The position of those types in the
sheet was arbitrary. It was only within the block, between the first
and fourth vertical strips, that the true position of the types was
retained, thanks to the photocopy. However, there were only 24 types
in the reconstruction--the last type of stamp could not be found.
"1C. Schmidt and A. Faberge, "Die Postwertzeichen der Russischen
Landschafftssaemter [The Postage Stamps of Russian Provincial
Departments], Petrograd, 1914.
ROSSICA 111 1988 Page 79
Therefore the 25th stamp in the sheet was substituted with a better
printed copy of the 8th type of stamp (Figure 1).
Figure 1 Figure 2
Up to 150 stamps had to be examined in order to find the 24th
stamp of the 25-stamp sheet. But in the entire history of zemstvo
Sphilately the 25th type had not been found among those copies. Why?
Beginning in the 1890s, all the published catalogs indicated
that the 25 types in the sheet were available, to which C. Schmidt in
his studies added: "...of which 24 are known." That is why any stamp
not having an analog among the 24 types of the restored sheet could
have been taken for the missing 25th type.
Therefore, at the beginning of the 20th century the authors of
the reconstruction did not mention any counterfeits of stamp
No. 4. Then in the 1930s when fakes of various types had long been
in philatelic use, C. Schmidt warned: "Counterfeits of the stamps
are very dangerous..."
The answer to the question about the 25th type of stamp may be
found in the block displayed in Figure 2. If the upper and lower
edges of the block are compared, then it is not difficult to notice
that the field of the lower one is narrower. [Ed. note: these fine
differences are not noticeable in the relatively poor quality
illustrations available for this article.] The same correlation
applies for the left and right edges: the left one is narrower. The
existence of the narrow edges is explained by the cut which passed
between the stamps when they were separated from the remaining part
of the sheet. The remains of the dark bands are noticeable along the
upper and right edges of the block. They should not be taken as the
frame lines of the adjacent stamps. The vertical and horizontal
distances between the stamps of the block do not change, whereas the
corresponding distances between the stamps and the traces of the
bands along the block's upper and right edges are less. Conse-
quently, the block did not have stamps on the top or the right. They
Page 80 1988 ROSSICA 111
were only on the left and bottom. Therefore it can be inferred that
the block of 10 stamps was, first of all, a pair of incomplete
vertical strips (without a lower horizontal pair of stamps) and,
second, it was the right edge of a sheet without the two last stamps
(the 23rd and 24th).
Thus, the sheet consisted not of 25 stamps (5 x 5), as was
previously thought, but of 24 stamps (4 x 6). And the 25th type
simply had not existed. Many years later C. Schmidt wrote: "The
information given out about old stamps in zemstvos obviously did not
correspond to reality... It was especially with great difficulty
that sheets were acquired.... After several weeks of waiting, a
sheet was obtained cut into blocks the size qf envelopes... The
sheet edges were for the most part cut off."
And there is more! "Counterfeits of the stamps are very
dangerous. Often they were offered pasted on the envelopes of old
letters, the dates of which had been cut out. They bear no
resemblance whatsoever to any of the 24 types." It would seem,
therefore, that the formal question about the number of stamps in the
sheet has turned out to be essential for recognition of the sheet as
the standard by which, above all, the genuineness of the No. 4 stamps
should be checked.
Attention is directed to the recurring pen cancellation which
is met with on all the Borovichi stamps, beginning with No. 1 of the
1868 issue and ending with No. 7 of the 1878 issue. Such a recur-
rence is possible only if the stamps were cancelled at the same
location and by the same person.
According to the data gathered by C. Schmidt and A. Faberge, the
zemstvo mail [pochta] was sent from Borovichi in three directions:
(1) to Ustyuzhskiy, Lavochkiy, and Sominskiy; (2) to Tikhvinskiy; and
(3) to Vyshnevolochskiy.
All correspondence accepted by the postal department (otde-
leniye] within the Zemstvo Council and received from the government
post office [pochta] for subsequent forwarding by zemstvo mail was
sorted according to rural districts, sealed in postal packets
[postpakety], and delivered by postmen to rural district adminis-
trations. When the rural district officials received the postal
packets, all the correspondence collected from the people and
addressed to the rural district centers and the government post
office (and thus sealed) was transferred at the same time to the
postmen for delivery to the zemstvo postal department. Under these
conditions the correspondence which had been sent from rural district
to rural district and which was in the process of being moved through
the zemstvo post office was still sorted in the council's postal
2Die Postwertzeichen der Russichen Landschaftssaemter von C. Schmidt
Architekt Charlottenburg, 1932 Band 1 Vortwort s. 35-36 [The
Postage Stamps of Russian Provincial Departments, by C. Schmidt,
Charlottenburg architect, 1932, Vol. 1, Preface, pp.35-36].
Ibid., Vol. 1, p. 88.
ROSSICA 111 1988 Page 81
department, and only after being sent again through the mail was the
correspondence delivered to its address.
Unfortunately, over the past 70 years we can add little to this
information. As before, we do not know the rates and the forms of
payment for sending money and valuables and for packages and printed
publications. We do not know the form of payment for non-registered
and registered private letters from the district to the city of
Borovichi, from rural district to rural district and to government
post office. And in reverse--from government post office to rural
district. Was it free, or collected in cash or "for a stamp"?
The published "Reports of the Borovichi District Zemstvo Council
for the District Assembly" and the journals of the assemblies for the
end of the 1860s and 1870s have not been found. In any case, judging
by the answers obtained, they have not turned up in the library
archives of Novgorod, Leningrad, or Moscow. Restoring this gap, even
partially, can only be done by the combined efforts of collectors on
the basis of genuine covers and envelopes of Borovichi letters which
have been preserved.
But even what is known makes it possible to conclude that all
zemstvo correspondence which came to the postal department within the
district zemstvo council passed through the hands of the head of the
postal department, who for many years had cancelled the stamps using
his signature. Apparently, when the department head was sick, he was
replaced. And in those instances, in place of his signature there
appeared a neutral cancellation: the stamps were cancelled with an
"X", figures were written on them, checkmarks were made, etc.
However, that rarely occurred, and that is why the department
head's signature was the typical stamp cancellation for Borovichi
zemstvo mail until the end of the 1870s.
Shown in Figure 3 is a genuine envelope on which all the identi-
fying signs of the counterfeit have been preserved: the cover of an
old official letter with postmarked date cancellations showing when
the letter was sent--"Tikhvin 6 Sept. 1876" and the arrival date--
"Borovichi 9 Sept. 1876"--(at that time, stamp No. 4 had already been
removed from zemstvo postal circulation); the counterfeit stamp,
which does not correspond to any one of the 24 types of the recon-
structed sheet; and, finally, the forged signature of the head of the
postal department within the zemstvo council. In a genuine cancel-
lation the initials were made on the stamp with a single movement of
the pen, without a break. In the forged signature the horizontal
line is not a continuation of the second vertical one, but has been
made with a break in the pen line with a second movement.
However, fabrication of the envelopes was probably taking place
even before the appearance of the counterfeit stamps. At the top of
the 4th stamp of the reconstructed sheet, next to the X-type pen can-
cel there is the imprint of the lower part of a circular cancel with
the letters "...ovgor..." along the outer edge, this being a fragment
of the name of the city, district, or province of "Novgorod."
The stamp could not have been on a letter sent from the Novgorod
district to the Borovichi district--the Novgorod cancellation was put
Page 82 1988 ROSSICA 111
Figure 3 Figure 4
on it prior to its being franked with the Borovichi zemstvo [postage]
stamp. But even if the letter had been sent from the Borovichi
district with transferal to a government post office, upon arrival at
the Novgorod government postal department it would have been hand-
stamped with a date canceller, the text of which at that time (1876)
would have been as follows: at the top--the name of the city; in the
middle, in three lines--the date (day, month, and year), and at the
bottom--an arabesque. The imprint on the [postage] stamp is
obviously not from this canceller.
It can be assumed that a letter addressed to one of the rural
district administrative boards was transferred to the zemstvo post
office where it was hand stamped with the Novgorod zemstvo postal
canceller, part of which landed on the [postage] stamp. Actually,
the Novgorod zemstvo post office had a circular canceller with a
diameter of 25 mm. The text is located between its two circles--the
outer one and the inner one: on top was "zemstvo post," on the
and on the canceller was [the abbreviation] "Novgor." with a period
after the letter "r". This canceller made its appearance at the
Novgorod zemstvo post office only in 1893.
Evidently the forgery was recognized, but wishing to preserve a
genuine rare postage stamp, they removed it. However, the vestiges
of its "unseemly" past have stayed with it forever. Thus it can be
considered as an established fact that prior to the appearance of the
counterfeit stamps (in the years of the reconstructed sheet),the fab-
ricated covers were prepared with the aid of genuine postage stamps.
In conclusion it remains to be said that the genuine Borovichi
letters with stamp No., 4 are vary rarely encountered. Unique
specimens of them are known only with intra-district cancellations.
One such cover is shown in Figure 4.
One such cover is shown in Figure 4.
ROSSICA 1988 Page 83
S NOTES FROM COLLECTORS
A "RAZYEZD" MARKING
In railroad terms, "RAZYEZD" means a "siding." In old railroad
lists one can see various points listed as stations and sidings.
Stations usually have names whereas sidings are oftentimes simply
numbered. Although postal lists include "sidings", it isn't clear
what postal services were available and "RAZYEZD" markings are by no
means common, especially on cover.
oJ Carte post A
\f1 jiP Union postal uniCle '
Shown in Figure 1 is a weak impression of such a marking on a
picture post card used in 1917. The marking is made with light
purple ink. On the upper portion one can make out enough letters to
read "RAZYEZD." The rest of the upper portion is illegible although
the immediate first letter following the word "RAZYEZD" may be an "N"
for number and possibly a numeral "5" after that.
At the bottom we can make out the initials "M.-K.-B.-KW,- ."
From Mr. David Skipton we learned that these initials stand for the
Moscow-Kursk-Voronezh railroad line. However, since the number of
the siding is illegible, the location cannot be determined exactly.
The message on this post card is a simple Christmas greeting
with no clue of the exact place of origin. The card was received in
Kiev on 26.12.17. There are no other markings.
Nyack, New York
Page 84 1988 ROSSICA 111
20 ON 14 KOPEK ARMS STAMP USED AT FACE VALUE IN OCTOBER 1920
So what's unusual about that, you may ask. If you refer to the
Lobachevski catalog, more specifically to the table of revaluations
(Rossica Journal 100/101, p. 67), you will see that Arms types below
25 kopeks were revalued at a rate of 1 kopek = 1 ruble from March 10,
Of course, this is barely relevant for the illustrated cover, a
registered letter from Vladivostok (19-10-20) via San Francisco (9-
11-1920) to Worcester, Massachusetts (15-11-20). The firm of Moritz
& Bramer, from which this cover stems, had by then closed its offices
in Petrograd and Perm and had relocated to Vladivostok. That city
was then governed by the Zemstvo board, chaired by A. S. Medvedev.
The year of 1920 had been an eventful one for Vladivostok.
Kolchak's representative, General Rozanov, has been chased away on
January 31st, and from that moment on, the Zemstvo board was
responsible for running the city and its environs. It had to deal
with an active Bolshevik underground, a perpetual influx of White
refugees from the West and with the Japanese occupation for es.
ROSSICA 111 1988 Page 85
It also had a few economic problems, the worst of which was
inflation. During the first half of 1920, the rate for a registered
letter abroad was 4 rubles. In June, an attempt was made to return
to a stable currency by issuing new banknotes at a rate of 20 to 1,
but due to Japanese sabotage, the attempt failed. This experiment is
reflected in lower postal rates during the summer of 1920. In
October, a second attempt was made (although Blekhman [Filatelia
SSSR, No. 2, 1978, p. 46] mentions a date of September 1920, no
physical evidence of this has so far turned up), and this time it was
successful, no doubt because the Japanese cooperated. The new Gold
Ruble was--by an eerie coincidence, no doubt!--equal in value to one
Japanese yen. The rate for a registered letter abroad now became 20
Figure 1 (reverse)
Of course, this meant the stamps in stock at the post offices
had to be distinguished in some way from stamps sold earlier against
inflated currency, and the decision was taken to overprint the stamps
with a DVR monogram, as Vladivostok was just about to join the Far
Eastern Republic. The earliest covers with these stamps have dates
of late November 1920.
Page 86 1988 ROSSICA 111
The illustrated cover shows that, possibly for a very brief
period only, unoverprinted stamps were used to make up rates in Gold
currency. The single 20 on 14 kopek stamp (of the 1916 issue) paid
the 20 Gold Kopeks rate. It may be the last usage of an unover-
printed Arms type at face value so far known.
A KHARBIN KORPUSNII GORODOK MARKING
In the Tchilinghirian and Stephen "Used Abroad", Volume 5, only
one cancel is described for the Kharbin Korpusnii Gorodok or Kharbin
Army Corp Quarter, shown in their Figure 619. This was on a military
card in the collection of the late Dr. A. H. Wortman. In the British
Journal of Russian Philately, No. 30, 1962, Figure 75, Mr. M.
Liphschutz reported a second type where the words are partially
abbreviated and the first and last words of the inscription end with
a period in place of the hard sign 'b." The date was in the center
but with no bridge. From the illustration the marking appears to be
around 25 mm in diameter.
On the military mail postal card shown here (Figure 1), a marking
with text similar to the one reported by Mr. Liphschutz consists of a
double circle 29 mm in diameter (outer) and 17 mm (inner), dated
30-9-05 within a bridge in the center. The series letter is quite
faint but possibly a "s", (Figure 2). The marking is blue.
0 IP TOE E IHOBMO
JV ^e.^, f --','
..:rO (M@o I .1 W.
S. ... .. .. ... ......... ............. .......... ... .................. ...... ......... ....... .................. ............. .
ina amoii 1iopomb nFiugemejr mo...o iope. A ,/< *
"Figure 1 Figure 2
ROSSICA 111 1988 Page 87
The military marking in purple reads "The Composite Kharbin 16th
Hospital." The card was addressed to the Personal Warehouse of the
Empress Maria Feodorovna at the Anichkov Palace in St. Petersburg.
This apparently was some charitable endeavor in the name of the
Empress for military personnel. The interesting message on the back
from a soldier is directed to Emperor Alexander II and Empress Maria
Feodorovna, thanking them for a parcel he had received.
Nyack, New York
ANOTHER CIRCULAR VOKZAL MARKING
A second form of the circular KALISH VOKZAL marking on a 3 ruble
Romanov stamp is shown in Figure 1. This marking, sketched in
Figure 2, shows KALISH across the top and VOKZAL across the bottom
with a capital "A" as the series letter. The outer ring is 29 mm in
diameter and the inner about 16.5 mm. The ink is black. This
differs in size and format from the KALISH VOKZ. marking shown in
Rossica 108/109 in the note by George Shalimoff. The date 19.6.12 on
the stamp shown here is some six months before the issue of the
Romanov set, which is known to have been January 2, 1913 according to
L. L. Tann's study. This may be a cancel error or an intentional
backdating for philatelic purposes. There is the additional
possibility that this circular cancel, with its clearly incorrect
Sdate, is a forgery made up to provide used Romanov sets for
collectors. The stamp has no gum.
Figure 1 Figure 2
None of this explains why some towns and cities used circular
VOKZAL cancels (or both circular and oval cancels) while most used
only oval cancels. The lists of towns using circular VOKZAL markings
compiled by Luchnik (Rossica 92), Campbell (Rossica 108/109) and
Shalimoff (Rossica 108/109) give a total of more than 20 stations
using circular cancels (some during the Soviet period). Some of
these were administered by the UPPZD (the railway mail admini-
stration) and some by the imperial post. As Campbell indicated, this
. is a mystery that remains to be clarified.
Page 88 1988 ROSSICA 111
BIRCH BARK POSTCARD
Most philatelists are aware of letter writers' resourcefulness
during times of paper shortages where envelopes were turned inside
out and reused or where envelopes were fabricated from pieces of
wallpaper, magazine covers, or odd scraps of paper. Illustrated here
is an example of going back to nature for help, a postcard made from
a piece of bark of a birch tree. The item was postmarked at the
Goroblagodaynaya Vokzal (Station) 20-6-16 to Luga.
""l* /i *, -
FAR EASTERN REPUBLIC OVERPRINT VARIETY
The last Vladivostok issue of the Far Eastern Republic in 1923
consisted of overprints on Soviet stamps of 1922-1923. One overprint
cliche variety exists on the 5 kopek on 10 ruble red overprint (Scott
No. 68). The first letter in the top line, the cyrillic letter "D,"
"Figure 1 Figure 2
Figure 1 Figure 2
ROSSICA 111 1989 Page 89
is significantly smaller (Figure 1) compared to the other overprints
on the sheet (Figure 2). This small "D" variety appears at position
11 on the sheet of 100, in the upper left quarter pane (the first
stamp of the second row),
Many years ago I communicated this observation to the late K.
Berngard of the All-Union Society of Philatelists of the USSR, and he
published it in Filateliya SSSR No. 2, 1976.
Nyack, New York
AN INTERESTING MARITIME USAGE
The illustrated postcard is interesting in a number of aspects.
It was written by a Japanese national (in Vladivostok probably, but
perhaps on board), and cancelled aboard the Japanese ship Kotsu.
Most Russian franked ship mail to Japan and Korea we have seen are
marked paquebot, and cancelled at a Japanese (or Korean) port.
UPU regulations provide that if a mailing takes place while the
vessel is at either terminal port or at an intermediate port, the
mailing is valid only if the franking is with the postage of and the
rates of the country in whose waters the vessel happens to be. Thus
the letter is not paquebot. This is borne out by the lack of any
paquebot marking on the card. There are instances of this type of
mailing, where written information on a card or in a letter indicated
that the vessel is Japanese, but items with which we are familiar
have been cancelled ashore, giving no official indication of the
Figure 1 (picture side)
Page 90 1988 ROSSICA 111
The probable situation is that the card was posted in a box on
the pier, or on board the ship, provided by the shipping company in
The illustrated item is cancelled "KOTSU MARU, in a standard
type for seapost offices of Japan. The Japanese arrival marking is
of Kaga, which jibes with the written address. The cancellation of
the ship is used because Kotsu Maru had an authorized seapost office.
Otherwise, the card would have received a paquebot marking and would
have been cancelled at Tsuruga.
SBCEMIPHUi1 l09qTOBbli C003'. POCCII...
UNION POSTAL UNIVERSELLE RUSSIE.
OTHPblTOE nHCbMO. CARTE POSTAL
Ha amoa cmopKnb nuUmemcM moAbco aapec. C561 reserve exclusivement al'adresse.
Figure 1 (address side)
The year date on the ship cancel is indistinct (could be 00 or
03), but as this style of cancelling device was in use 1902 04, the
date is assumed to be 03. The Kotsu Maru operated out of Moji. The
service ran from May 1902 to the interuption of the Russo-Japanese
War, and was not resumed until 1910. The Kotsu Maru had Tsuruga as
its first port of call after leaving Vladivostok, and conversely,
Tsuruga was the departure port to Vladivostok.
a. "The Roman Letter Postmarks of Japan", John Gordon Bishop, ISJP
Monograph 7, 1979
b. "Gaishin In Handobukku" (Handbook of Overseas Mail Postmarks),
Nippon Yushu, Tokyo 1985
Santa Clara, California
ROSSICA 111 1988 Page 91
QUERY ON OVERPRINT OF ARMS ISSUE
The stamp on the postcard back illustrated below bears a
violet "1908." overprint. I would appreciate member opinions on its
possible origin and/or purpose. To date the only suggestion I have
received is that it is a private control mark of some kind.
Robert W. Stuchell
S, Devo Cpinas, lBrazi
.. Asdrubal Prado
/p.Adth Ger t-rud
Figure 1 (reduced)
Page 92 1988 ROSSICA 111
THE ROSSICA BOOKSHELF
THE POSTAGE STAMPS OF RUSSIA, 1917-1923, VOLUME 2, UKRAINE, PARTS 7/8
- THE TRIDENT ISSUES OF KHARKIV TYPES I, II, AND III, by Dr. R. J.
Ceresa, September 1985. Edition limited to 300 numbered copies.
Prices to USA and overseas, 12.50 or $20.00 by air, 10 or $17.50
by sea. Copies available from the author at Pepys Cottage,
13 High Street, Cottenham, Cambridge, CB4 4SA, England.
This is another outstanding issue in Dr. Ceresa's monumental
under- taking, and a well-produced volume of 45 text pages and 40
plate pages with clear drawings and photographs (where the originals
allow clarity!). In his introduction the author discusses the
authentic trident types of Kharkiv as well as their various subtypes
and ink characteristics, layouts of the handstamps, and values known
over- printed with the tridents. Postal use of and cancellations on
the three types are briefly discussed.
The forgery listing is, as usual, depressingly long. With 44
different bogus tridents of Type I, 16 of Type II, and 24 of Type
III, one wonders if half the dealers and philatelists in history have
not tried their hand at a forgery or two. Also included are very
useful checklists of authentic tridents on postal stationery and, of
course, illustrations of the forgeries themselves.
Expertizers as well as stamp and forgery collectors owe Dr.
Ceresa a great debt of gratitude for his efforts in exposing a myriad
of bogus overprints on the stamps of the Ukraine, Armenia, and the
Armies. Anyone who seriously collects this field cannot afford to be
without his volumes. Future issues will encompass the tridents of
Kiev ("hundreds of forgeries"!), Podolia, the special types and
Shahivs, plus the issues of South Russia, Crimea, and Wrangel.
VLADIVOSTOK UNDER RED AND WHITE RULE: Revolution and Counter-
revolution in the Russian Far East 1920-1922, by Canfield F. Smith.
University of Washington Press, Seattle, 1975. 304 pp. HB, ,maps,
illustrations, bibliography, index.
This is Publication No. 6 on Russia and Eastern Europe from the
Institute for Comparative and Foreign Area Studies. It is the only
one of the series that deals with any part of the Russian Civil War
Most Rossica members may be familiar with the stamps of the
Priamur Provisional Government, listed in Scott as Siberia nos. 51-
118. I feel sure that very few members know anything at all about
the issuing entity. This book has got to be the most extensive
treatment of the subject that exists in English, and if you need to
go further in your research, by all means consult the absolutely
outstanding bibliography. It must be one of the largest ever
(39 pp.) on a topic about which so little is known.
ROSSICA 111 1988 Page 93
Suddenly, the Civil War in the Priamur is real! Semenovites,
Kappelites, Red partisans, and the great shadow of the Japanese
Intervention are all here playing out their documented roles. Most
historians cease discussion of the Civil War in Siberia at the point
where the Kolchak army has been destroyed and the Allied
Interventionists save Japan have left the scene. Canfield Smith
has done history and, conceivably, postal history a considerable
service by picking up the story and carrying it to conclusion.
Unfortunately, familiar philatelic names like Pappadopulo do not
show up. But for those who want to know more about the background of
their Siberian and Far Eastern Republic stamps and covers this is a
W. Thomas Waters
OOST EUROPA FILATELIE, Yearset 5, No. 3, September 1987, 44 pages.
The Journal of the Filatelistische Contactgroep Ooost Europa,
published by Ivo Steyn, Loosdrechtseweg 4, 1215 JW Hilversum, The
Netherlands. Annual subscription, f22.50.
This Dutch-language journal is devoted to the philately of
Eastern Europe generally, with a heavy dose of Russia in the present
issue. The Rev. L. L. Tann writes on the chaincutter stamps,
focusing on the preparation and essays of the issue, and Bas van der
Plas gives a summary of Tuvan postal history condensed primarily from
the Blekhman handbook.
Magnus Werner writes an absorbing article on commercial perfins
on Russian stamps. Most of the literature in the specialized Russian
philatelic journals has discussed the official function of perfins,
while their use by private firms is less well known. In Linn's for
July 27, 1981, there is an article on commercial perfins on Japanese
stamps that may have been used in Korea. One of these is the perfin
"R.C.B." (in Roman letters) for the Russo-Chinese Bank, founded in
1897 in St. Petersburg. Has anyone seen this perfin on a Russian
OEF's Love Letter, this time by L. L. Tann, illustrates a 1914
cover to Finland franked with five two-ruble Romanovs. It was mailed
on board steamship and cancelled at Stettin, then part of the German
Finally, Ivo Steyn writes about franking by cash in White-held
Siberia during the Civil War and illustrates a 1919 stampless cover
mailed from Perm' to Vladivostok.
Aside from Russian-related material, there are articles on
Polish air mail and postal censorship during the recent martial law
in Poland. Complete with reviews of recent literature, meeting
reports, etc., this is a meaty issue!
Page 94 1988 ROSSICA 111
LETTLAND, HANDBUCH, PHILATELIE UND POSTGESCHICHTE, Harry von Hofmann
Verlag, Hamburg, 1987. Two volumes (Part 1 Stamps, Part 5 -
Postmarks). Cost: 48 Deutschemarks for Part 1, 42 DM for Part 5.
Copies available from Harry v. Hofmann Verlag, Postfach 52 05 18,
D-2000 Hamburg 52, West Germany.
Another outstanding reference book takes its place on the
philatelic market, this one a "must buy" for any serious collector of
Latvia. Comprising the work of 14 major contributors and many others
who helped compile it, this two-volume, soft-bound production covers
as much of Latvian philately as one could ask. Part 1 is 192 pages
long, with high-quality photographs and illustrations showing each
stamp and its varieties. Essays, paper, color, plating, and
forgeries are all discussed in exacting detail and each variety is
priced in DM. Parts 2 and 3 are not yet published and will continue
stamps, also for DM 48 each.
Part 5, Philately and Postal History, is a hefty 319-page
production with a massive number of postmark illustrations (1,690
town cancels alone!) set forth in a very efficient and lucid manner.
Machine and handroller postmarks, free-frank markings, provisional
cancels, railroad and fieldpost obliterators and, of course, special
cancellations are all listed and illustrated along with their
recorded ranges of use.
This is an indispensable reference book and will undoubtedly be
the definitive word on Latvian philately for many years to come.
Collectors with little or no command of German will still find
"Lettland" a very valuable source, with the postmark listings no
problem at all to use. Highly recommended to any Baltic enthusiast.
Our congratulations to Herr von Hofmann and the
Forschungsgemeinschaft Lettland in BDPh for a very professional job!
POCHTA (The Journal of the Australia and New Zealand Society of
Russian Philately), Issue No. 3, 1987, 62 pages; edited by Dr. A.
R. Marshall. Available from the Secretary and Treasurer Terry
Archer, 313 Mahurangi East Road, Snells Beach, Warkworth, New
Zealand for NZ$30.00.
This issue begins with what appears to be developing into a
regular feature of the Journal, i.e., "Correspondence from Russia to
New Zealand and Australia." This article gives a detailed descrip-
tion of four covers and postcards of the pre-civil war period. This
article is particularly useful for the researcher because each piece
described is accompanied by a photograph of the item.
The "Readers' Pages" provides a good feel for the level of
activity in which the Society is engaged. This regular feature gives
readers an opportunity to extend their sources of information in
different areas of interest or expertise. This feature also provides
a vehicle for members to clear up nagging questions about Russian
philatelics and about those mysterious uncataloged items we all
ROSSICA 111 1988 Page 95
encounter from time to time.
The editor contributes two pieces. In "American Relief
Administration Further Information" (continuation of an article
begun in POCHTA, Issue No. 2) Dr. Marshall provides insight into the
origins and administration of the American Relief Program, its sales
promotion, methods of delivery, and operational procedures in the
Soviet Union. Dr. Marshall's second article is more philatelic in
which he covers "The 1921 Volga Famine Relief Stamp Issue." This
piece is accompanied by a detailed description and photographs of two
rather interesting covers illustrating the use of this issue.
Ivo Steyn achieves the stated objectives in his article on "The
Krag Machine Cancellations of Imperial Russia"--first, that machine
cancellations are legitimately a collectable subset of Russian
cancellation collecting and second, that this subset is a suitable
subject for specialization. Mr. Steyn provides some background on
the Krag machines and their use in Russia. He then gives some
practical suggestions on how to approach the collecting of
cancellations followed by a tentative listing of cities that used the
Norman Banfield, in his brief but well illustrated article on
the "Military Censor Marks of Russia 1914-1920" examines the
Petrograd and Moscow censor marks. The author provides a number of
informational leads for anyone wanting to research the subject
In his article "Collecting Holes," Pat Eppel deals with
perforation errors with one or more, but not all, sides of a stamp
imperforate. The author provides some insight into collecting
perforation errors and offers the reader the benefit of his
experience in classifying this type of material. Of particular value
is the considerable effort that must have gone into compiling the
extensive listing of these errors. Of no lesser value is the lengthy
bibliography that the author provides at the end of his article.
This same article appeared in 'YAMSHCHIK' (The Canadian Society of
Russian Philately Journal) No. 21, November 1987.
The Journal then provides descriptions of two new issues, an
"Official" list of issues for 1988, some brief vignettes of general
interest, and closes with a "Literature Review."
It is encouraging to see collectors in various parts of the
globe coming together to form study groups, clubs, and societies. It
is through these associations that we exchange ideas, increase our
knowledge, and grow as collectors. We congratulate our colleagues
"down under" with a fine start in their new enterprise and wish them
Michael L. Tihomirov
Page 96 1988 ROSSICA 111
THE BRITISH JOURNAL OF RUSSIAN PHILATELY, No. 64, 1987, 72 pages;
The Journal of the British Society of Russian Philately, published
by BSRP, ed. by R. L. Joseph, 53 Malham Road, Stourport-on-Severn,
Worcs. DY13 8NT, Great Britain.
Another excellent issue in a long run of fine issues from the
hands of the members of BSRP. The frontispiece is an exquisite
photograph of an essay of the 3.50 ruble stamp of 1884. The work is
so well done the embossed relief of the coat of arms shows up on the
breast of the eagle, the wingfeathers are clearly countable, etc.
The first article is a translation of a section of the Handbook
of the Russian Imperial Post Office, which is a continuation of
previous sections of this translation. Next comes another
outstanding illustration, this time of an essay of the block of four
of the 1866-75 issue, 1 kopek black and orange. The illustration
fills a whole page, and shows the essay in intimate detail. There
follows a research article entitled "Early Postal Charge Marks to the
West (up to about 1840)," by Ian Baillie, Fred Goatcher, Tony
Speeckaert and Denis Vandervelde. The article provides a new
interpretation of the charge marks on early Russian covers to the
West, and highlights the discussion with several illustrations. This
article is nicely complemented by "Early Postal Charges on Foreign
Mail into Russia by Fred Goatcher."
Ian Baillie reports on the discovery of a new, straightline
cancellation of Odessa used on an 1804 entire in "Earliest Items of
Mail from Odessa (1804)," being the earliest use of such a handstamp
known. Next is a translation of an article by Harry v. Hofmann,
"Postal Registration Machines in Russia 1912 1916." I.W. Roberts
contributes an easily readable history of the Russian Steam
Navigation and Trade Company in "The Rise and Fall of the Russian
Steam Navigation and Trade Company (ROPiT) 1856-1920." This is the
kind of article for which the editor catches hell from the old guard
because it "is not philatelic", but it provides a strong basis for
understanding what all those stamps with a ROPiT surcharge are all
about. Must reading for the serious Russian philatelist.
"World War I Censor Markings of Minsk" are typed and well
illustrated by N.R. Banfield. P. E. Robinson has an article on a
very interesting part of Russo-Canadian postal history in "The Exiled
Doukhobors and their Mail." G. Werbizky contributes new information
on "The Batum Postmaster Provisional," and J. G. Moyes provides "More
Additions to the Forbin Revenue Catalog." R.P. Knighton illustrates
three covers with Russian "Special Post" labels in Russia: Special
Post 1922 1926." A translation of an article by Luciano Buzzetti
discusses "The Presence of the Italian Navy in the Black Sea 1942-
1944," and J.G. Moyes closes out the issue with "Some Ephemera from
the Skobelev Committee." The issue ends with Notes from Collectors
and Literature Reviews.
An outstanding Journal, with excellent balance between research,
postal history and stamps. If you are a serious Russian philatelist,
and aren't already a subscribing member to BSRP, you should be.