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

May 29, 2013

Russian Railway Postmark: Early Franked Cover, August 1858

17 August 1858. Folded entire franked at the 10 kopecks rate [Michel #2, January 1858 issue] and adressed to 
a ‘respectable merchant and citizen’ [Почетному Гражданину и гильдий купцу] at the famous Nizhni Novgorod Fair [Въ Нижнегородской Ярмарки].

Special dotted hexagonal railway postmark “1” from the St Petersburg Nikolaev railway station. 
Possibly one of 4 or 5 railway postmarks covers known during the first year 1858.
(author's stock)

Railway postmarks were introduced in the Russian Empire during the pre-adhesive period, in the 1850s. The earliest cover recorded is a postal stationary sent from the St Petersburg Train Station to Sominsk, dated 8 December 1852 (collection Valentin Levandovskiy).

With the introduction of the first Russian stamps in January 1858, franked covers were of course still accepted for transportation via the railway system; during the first half of 1858, there was no specific change regarding postmarks or cancellations for train station post offices. The 26 February 1858, the official circular N°138 introduced the first set of dotted cancellations (circular dotted postmarks, used for the Gubernya towns), nevertheless it is only with the cicular N°1847 of 31 May 1858 that a special set of dotted devices were officially announced for the rest of the offices. 

With that May 1858 circular, hexagonal dotted postmarks were attributed to the railway post offices of St Petersburg ("1") and Moscow ("2"). There is a third circular (N°157) dated 17th August 1858 that gives some additional information about those cancellations.    

Those covers bearing Russian stamps cancelled with a railway postmark are rather scarce in the early 1860s. Their scarcity dramatically increases as you get back in time, and very early covers (prior to the end of 1858) are definitely very rare. According to my experience, as well as the personal communication with Philip Robinson, there are possibly less than 4 or 5 railway franked covers with the hexagonal dotted postmark used during the first 6 months (mid-1858 till end of 1858). 

If you wish to learn more about Russian Railway Postmarks, I would highly recommand the viewing of the Levandovskiy collection, which has kindly been made available on the Rossica Virtual Gallery. Enjoy!

Maxime Citerne

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