This is very much a work in progress, but
already it has become too large for a single page - not so much because there is
a lot of "boring history", but because of the associated images which slows down
the page load time if you're still stuck at the far end of a slow modem.
I'll keep splitting this into smaller and
smaller sections as I add more entries and more images.
Please also read down below the contents
to the notes that explain the entries.
If you can add any more
dates and details to this history, please let
me know. I need to know the date (Julian or Gregorian if relevant and
known), the event, and also - most important - a reference source to confirm the
accuracy of the event if at all possible.
Russian Dates Explained
Imperial Russia used the Julian
calendar up until 1918, whereas the rest of the western world used the Gregorian
calendar. The Julian calendar was twelve days behind the Gregorian
calendar for most of this period, and thirteen days behind for the last several
years - I'm guessing since 1900 (it didn't have as many leap years as in the
In 1918 Russia adopted the
Gregorian calendar, with January 31 being the last day of the Julian calendar,
and the next day then being deemed to be February 14.
This allows for plenty of
confusion, because it isn't always clear which calendar is being used to refer
to any given date. If I'm referring to a date that I know to be in either
the Julian or Gregorian calendar during the period of ambiguity, I'll put a J or
G alongside it. Otherwise, your guess is as good as mine, and frankly,
what is a day or two when it comes to events of 100+ years ago! And, of
course, subsequent to 14 Feb, 1918, all dates are Gregorian.
Russian Money Explained
This is fairly simple. Or,
at least, it should be! Russian currency is in rubles, and each ruble has
100 kopek. In Russian cyrillic script, the letter "r" (for
ruble) actually looks like a "P". Helpfully, the letter
"k" for kopek looks just like a letter "K", so there is no
Now for the difficult part.
Russia has had a couple of periods of rampant inflation, and at least two
remonetarisations as well (where so many old rubles are equated to be worth
fewer new rubles, such as in 1997 when 1000 old rubles where deemed to be worth
one new ruble). These remonetarisations make it more difficult to track
the change in pricing for postage.
About the Images
The images are not to any
consistent scale. They have been collated from a range of various sources,
and scanned at different dots per inch, meaning that you can not assume that
because one image is bigger than another, the underlying stamp is also bigger.
Source and Reference Material
I've prepared this timeline from
a variety of sources. The Stanley Gibbons 5th Edition Russia
catalog was a major help, all the more so for being in English! I've also
used Scott and Michel catalogs for added insight and information.
Other specific sources of material includes
Russian Postmarks - an
Introduction and Guide by A V Kiryushkin & P E Robinson. Published
1989 by J Barefoot Ltd.
Co Russian Stamps Online web site - a convenient source of images.
They also sell a CD - I have a copy on order and will review it when received.
The Russian Alphabet in Translation and
Russia uses a different alphabet
to what we use - it is called the "Cyrillic" alphabet, named after St
Cyril who codified the alphabet.
There are more letters in the
Russian alphabet than in the English alphabet - 33. Some of them look the
same as their English equivalents, and sound the same, too - A K M O T.
Others look the same, but sound different, such as P (which is actually
pronounced like an R - you'll see a P as the abbreviation for Ruble) and C
(which sounds like S, which is why the Russian way of abbreviating USSR was CCCP)
and some others, too. Then there are letters which don't look like
anything in English, but which are used for English sounds, like, for example,
the letter for the English P (I'm trying to avoid having to put Russian
characters on this page!). If you'd like to learn more about being able to
read and sound Russian words (which is
easier than you might think) please have a look at our web pages on this
Still more letters (which may or
may not look familiar) are used to pronounce sounds that in English are shown
with a combination of English letters, like "ch" and "ts"
and "sh" and "ya". Lastly, there are a few letters
that denote sounds not commonly found in English, or letters which are used to
modify the sound of the previous letter. Many of these unfamiliar looking
letters are very similar or identical to the same letters in the Greek alphabet.
When trying to show a Russian
word using English letters - what is called "transliteration" - there
are some ambiguities as to which way to spell out some of the Russian
sounds. For example, the word "tsar" and "czar"
represent two different ways of showing the single Russian letter "ts".
Or, for example, the new name for Russia is nowadays shown on postage stamps as
"Rossija" (which is a transliteration based on, I think, a French set
of rules) but I prefer the transliteration "Rossia" (hence this domain
Transliteration guidelines have
evolved over the years, but some names are so well recognised using old
transliteration methods that they supersede the new "rules" - for
example, in theory Tchaikovsky would probably be transliterated something like
Chaikovskiy or Chaikovski or Chaikovskij these days, but the old transliteration
tends to dominate, even in a book that might use the new transliteration scheme
for everything else!
One last issue. Many
Russian place names have been Anglicised in a manner that the local Russians
would struggle to recognise. Even Moscow itself is, in Russian, "Moskva"
and pronounced "MuskVA" (with the emphasis on the second syllable) -
really nothing like the way most Americans say "Moscow" with the
second syllable like the bovine animal, or the way many English people say
"Moscoe" with the second syllable like "know".
The point that I am struggling to
make is that transliterating is an inexact science! The only exactness is
to stick to the original Russian!