4 January 1913 - 1 ruble Romanov used on a parcel card from Moscow to Liège
Earliest use recorded of any Romanov ruble value on cover
(discovered by the author)
The 1913 Romanov issue is one of the most cherrished set of Russian stamps among collectors. It is sometimes the subject of deep specialization, some philatelists dedicating themselves to that set only. It is indeed a fascinating issue to study, right from its inception to the late usages known from the early 1920s. The proofs and essays are beautiful, the stamps themselves have been the subject of the special attention of the Postal Department.
This set was supposed to be launched on the 2nd January 1913 (the post offices were closed to the public on the first of January). Nevertheless, some stamps have been sold and used beforehand, possibly as an emergency measure (if you are a postal clerck left without the regular value that you need to frank that cover, then it is only sensible that you pick up in the newly arrived stock of Romanov sheets freshly lying down behind the counter).
The philatelic litterature records a handful of loose stamps and covers used from the 31th December 1912 till the first official day of issue (2nd January 1913). Those rare items only consist of some kopecks values.
But there is little information available on the early use of the ruble values (1, 2, 3 and 5 rubles).
The parcel card illustrated above will break that record. It has been sent from Moscow (2nd Exped.) to Liège (Belgium) on the 4 JANUARY 1913, franked with a combination of 20 kopecks Arm and a single 1 ruble Romanov. It is the earliest use known until now on cover of any Romanov ruble value. A second card from the same correspondance exists, also sent the same day (collection of a philatelist in the UK).