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

June 27, 2013

Imperforate Arms Stamps - Early Use in 1917

Figure 1  21 May 1917 - Postal card franked with a 3 kopek Arms Imperforate stamp
Early use of the imperforate issue. Late usage of a WWI Mute postmark.
Ex. Fabergé (author's stock)

In his excellent philatelic blog, Trevor Pateman illustrates a postcard franked with a 5 kopek Arms Imperforate stamp, used on the 16 April 1917 (those stamps were issued in the begining of the year 1917 as imperforate). Trevor asked for earlier dates of use.

I have not seen any earlier dates until now, but I am able to illustrate a very nice item in the same vein (figure 1). The card above has been sent from Riga to Petrograd on the 21 May 1917 and franked with a 3 kopek Arms Imperforate stamp. Mr Pateman records the 5 kopek as possibly the first imperforate value to be released (April 1917). May 1917 seems to be a early use for the imperforate 3 kopek value.

There is a very interesting bonus to that card. The adhesive is cancelled with a Mute Damaged Machine from Riga postmark. WWI Mute cancels were devised as an anti-spy measure during the war (no indication of departure). According to Arnold Levin (The Mute Cancels of Russia, Part 1: 25), this particular canceller was used slightly prior the start of WWI, and examples are known until 1917. Mute WWI cancels are generally found during the years 1914-1915, and their use decreases as the German army  progressed deeper in Russian territory. Mute cancels from 1917 are from a late and scarcer usage. 

It would have been initially hard to decipher the exact time of use on that card, because as you can clearly see on the scan above, the last digit in the year is rather incomplete. That would normally call for a guess-game, which always leads to a no-certainty opinion. But two further researches definitely clear the doubt and prove that it is indeed a 1917 card (thus, both an early use of the imperforate issue, and a late use of a WWI mute cancel).

First, the card is franked at the 3 kopek rate, the tariff in effect for an inland postcard until  14 August 1917, when it was upgraded to 5 kopek. Of course, there is always the possibility that that card was sent later in 1918, and insufficiently franked, but:

Secondly, this Riga Mute Damage Machine has been thoroughly recorded by Levin. Figure 2 illustrates that postmark. Please look at the "7" digit from "1917". It matches perfectly the postmark of my card (figure 3 - it is more obvious on the strike on the left).

I would like ro add a last comment. It seems that Mute Cancels applied on those provisional imperforate issues are very scarce at least.

                                           Figure 2 - Detail of the 1917 Riga Mute Damaged machine in Levin

Figure 3 - Detail of the same cancel on the 3 kopek imperforate stamp 

Maxime Citerne

June 12, 2013

Russian Early Philatelic Mail

Philatelic mail (as opposed to commercial mail) can be described as any envelope or card being sent on philatelic purposes. Most of them have genuinely travelled through the post, and been franked at the correct rate. 

What is worth noting though, is that the motivation behind their sending is stamp-collecting oriented. Whenever you decide to buy such item for your collection, you should be aware of that, as it can (or cannot) impact on the future sale of your item.

As philately developped and grew during the XIXth century, philatelically inspired mail became more common. Collectors wrote abroad to send their stamps for an exchange, or against cash. For Classic Russia, the most famous correspondance known to date is the Breitfuss correspondance (he was one of the giant of Imperial Russia philately). 

Figure 1 - St Petersburg to New Jersey, 1879 : "Mr Ackermann, dealer in stamps"

The postal stationary envelope illustrated above has been sent from St Petersburg to USA in 1879 (Figure 1). The 20 kopecks indicium has been correctly uprated with an example of the 1 kopeck adhesive, making it to the 21 kopecks rate (triple rate to foreign destinations in 1879).

The adress is very telling: 'Mr E.K Ackermann, dealer in stamps'. You cannot make it more philatelic! Mr Ackermann was a very famous stamp dealer, and probably one of the first to operate on the American continent. This is a rather early philatelic cover from Imperial Russia. If any reader knows about earlier sendings, please leave a comment.

It is amazing how much trouble the early collectors took to get their hands on exotic material. Remember that, at that time, there was no telephone and that communication between countries, not to mention continents, had an 'epic' taste. Figure 2 illustrates a reply card sent in January 1894 to the Governor of Mozambique (!), regarding the exchange of stamps. The sender apparantly was very eager to get some stamps from the Portuguese colonies. 

Figure 2 - Odessa to Mozambique, 1894 : Regarding the exchange of stamps

This phenomenon of early philatelic covers is not, of course, limited to Russia itself. All the major countries, especially in Europe, had their share of philatelically-oriented mailings. But some of them are scarcer than others.

Figure 3 illustrates a very scarce envelope sent from Kahuta in the Indian State of Poonch, franked with a combination of Indian stamp and the local Poonch 2 annas issue. This envelope is part of the well-known (well, at least for the specialists...) J.C Bechtler & Co philatelic correspondance, based in Allahabad. The Indian State of Poonch was located in the area of Jammu & Kashmir. Definitely not a developped, greatly populated industrial area in 1892!

Figure 3 - Poonch to Allahabad, 1892 : philatelic cover from a mystical area!
(Author's collection)

June 2, 2013

A New Feature For Our Readers: The Search Engine

A new feature of this website is now available for the readers: the Google search engine. This practical feature has been improved by Google over the last few years and now I am satisfied with its efficiency.

This feature is now on the upper right corner of each page 's menu:

With the growing number of posts and articles on Russian stamps, this feature will make it very easy for you to search this website for specific words. Just type in any relevant word or date which are fitting your research criteria.

I hope you'll enjoy the easiness of that new feature.