Russian stamps 10 kopecks imperforate, strip of five, largest multiple known. Ex Fabergé

Russian stamps 10 kopecks imperforate, strip of five, largest multiple known. Ex Fabergé

September 15, 2012

Zemstvo Chronicle 1: The Rarest Stamp of Gadiach

Gadiach is a small locality in (today's) Ukraine. From 1884 till 1912, this Zemstvo district issued about 50 stamps, that were to be used in the city proper and some 18 villages ('volost') of the area. I wrote 1912 and not 1913, as it is incorrectly stated in Artuchov' s 'The Zemstvo Postage Stamps of Imperial Russia' (Vol. 2: 67).

Those issues from Gadiach are particularly fascinating. They are colorful, often bicolors, extremely diversifed in their design and they had legitimate postal use. All stamps, except the last one, display the district's historical coat of arms: St Michel Subduing A Devil. 

Selection of Gadiach stamps - A delightful variety of designs and colors

As for most of the Zemstvo stamps of Russia, there are two main categories of rarities; the first category is that of rare stamps recorded in the Carl Schmidt catalogue. The second category is that of unrecorded stamps that have never been mentionned anywhere, and usually unheard of most collectors. I will probably blog about this last category in the near feature, but for now let's go back to the first category, and have a look at the stamps illustrated below. 

In May 1894, Gadiach issued a set of four imperforate stamps, in four different color combinations. Those stamps are numbered 30 to 33 by Schmidt. Please pay attention to the last stamp on the right (scan below): it is the 3 kopecks olive yellow & brownish red (Schmidt #33)

This is quite a common stamp, easily found in single mint copies in collections, but much harder to find cancelled or in multiples. Below are three scarce items from my collection: on the left a very scarce block of six (Ex. Baughman), on the right a single copy with the rare plate flaw 'Crack Through Left Value & Large Dot in Shield' (which occurs only once per sheet, at the position 25), and finally a rare pair cancelled by the district's handstamp (this pair made up a 6 kopecks rate for the registered letters):

A second birth: the perforated issue - In January 1904, 10 years after the initial imperforate printing, the few remaining sheets still in possession of the Zemstvo Pravlenie (administration) have been perforated 11.5. This perforated edition is known as the 1904 issue, although it should be noted that Carl Schmidt decided to attribute the same catalogue number as for the imperforate edition (probably for convenience). 

Because of the great scarcity of the perforated copies that have survived until today, it is most likely that only a handful of imperforate sheets (all four values put together, i.e #30-33) have been submitted for perforation in 1904. They are missing from most collections, including major ones. As for myself, being an avid collector of Gadiach, I own only one copy of each perforated value (in comparison to a hundred of imperforate ones). 

Below is the pièce de résistance: the ONLY copy known until today from the 1904 perforated 3 kopecks olive yellow & brownish red. This is the rarest regular stamp of Gadiach, and a Zemstvo rarity. It has a 2010 Terry Page certificate.

Schmidt rates it only 'R', which is obviously wrong, as NO copy was in neither the Ferrari, Fabergé (both Agathon & Oleg) or Baughman collections. I am currently investigating for information regarding the G.H Kaestlin collection that was shed to light in 2010, curious to know whether that last great holding contains -or not- those perforated issues. 

Actually the perforated stamp was unknown to Oleg Fabergé himself!

Gadiach - 1904 Issue (perforated 11.5) 
Olive yellow & brownish red printing (Schmidt 33)
RRRR - Only one copy recorded (author's collection)

Maxime Citerne


  1. Wow! I am utterly ignorant about zemstvo stamps (beyond owning a copy of the Faberge book) but have always felt their attraction, like the gravitational pull of a massive object. I have managed to avoid collecting them as I collect enough different things already, but sometimes all it takes is one well-written article like this to tempt me again... Vade retro, Satanas!

    I'm curious: where was the line perforation applied, and was it used for other stamps as well?

    1. Dear Ivo,

      Thanks again for your enthusiasm and nice reply! I am glad that you enjoyed my posts, as I do really enjoy writting them. Maybe time for you to subdue to the 'Devil' called zemstvo? :-)

      You are asking a good question about where the perf was done. There is no certainty yet, but looking back to other issues from other districts from the same Gubernia (that is: POLTAVA) we can see lots of similarities in the 'spirit' of the designs. So I would guess that the perforation was made by the same printer as those other issues, maybe in the city of Poltava itself.

      The line perforation is found on other stamps of that issue as well (very rare, I have only a few copies) and on the following issue of August 1895 (perf. in 1898, Schmidt 34/37). In fact I am not sure whether Schmidt was really right when he fixed the '1904' year, as it is also likely that the 1894 imperforated issue (30/33) has been perforated along with the 1895 issue (34/37), and that in 1898 (not 1904). But the material is so rare that it is difficult to ascertain this hypothesis.

      Finally, there is even more interesting than the line perforation: that is the ROULETTED perforation (or 'sewing machine') that is mentioned in Schmidt (rare!) for the 1895 issue (34/37)... What C. Schmidt doesn't mention is that there is also a copy of the 1894 issue (again, that famous S33) with that rouletted perforation! This is a new discovery, that stamp is also (probably) unique and I will be very happy to blog about it soon. It is also in my collection.

      I hope this answers your interesting questions!

  2. Great website! I have been attracted to stamp collecting ever since I was a young boy helping my father fill out his U. S. stamp album. The combination of history, artistry, aesthetics, and the thrill of the "Treasure Hunt" makes for an irresistible combination. However, it was not until I began studying the history of stamp collecting in various countries and came across Zemstvo stamps that I finally found my true niche. These stamps get to the heart of what stamp collecting is all about, and in many ways it is still at the wild frontier of stamp collecting. It is now my sole focus. My main source right now is eBay, and after reading your pieces on fakes and forgeries, I am very concerned as to how I can spot fakes. I am purchasing Kaestlin's great work, but I am also trying to find the best possible Zemstvo catalogue. Any suggestions? I would like a comprehensive work, but I also would like to stay under $100 if possible, so something in the middle (in English, if possible). My guess is Zemstvo forgers will not try and recreate an existing stamp so much (except for the absolute pinnacles) as create a new one and age it so folks think it is the real McCoy, so to speak. At any rate, any suggestions are appreciated and I look forward to browsing through your site in the future. Cheers!


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