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

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