A History of Russian Philately Part 2

1 Jan 1858J - 2 March 1917J


Please Help!

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.


1 January 1858J


Scott 1, Michel 1, SG 1 - the first Russian stamp

Russia officially adopts its first stamp - an imperforate 10 kopek stamp, good for the postage of a letter weighing up to 1 "lot".  A "lot" is a measure of weight, approximately equal to just under half an ounce (0.45oz) or 12.8grams.

An announcement on 10 December 1857 referred to not only this stamp but also 20k and 30k stamps as well, and they actually went on sale shortly after that date, quickly becoming available at all post offices throughout the country.  They were not valid for use prior to 1 Jan, 1858, but  SG reports there are known examples of them being used in December, however.

This first stamp was quickly reissued with perforations, and with 20k and 30k varieties too.

 

10 July 1864J

A new design of stamps was issued - the first stamps lasted a long time!

These new stamps were for new lower values - 1, 3 and 5 k.  Shortly afterwards (June 65) they were reissued with a different perf, and at the same time a set of 10, 20 & 30k stamps were also reissued on the same design as originally (just using the new perf guage).

The reason for the new lower values has to do with international mail.  Until this time, all mail sent abroad had to be prepaid in cash only (see item below dated 1874), but in 1864 the Postal Department decided to allow international mail also to be paid using stamps, and so they needed to introduce some smaller value stamps so as to be able to make up the various irregular fees for international postage.

 

September 1865

The first zemstvo post office opens and issues stamps in the Shlisselburg district of the St Petersburg region.

 

27 August 1870

On this day an Imperial decree was published regularising and authorising the establishment of the Zemstvo postal system.

 

9 October 1874G


The UPU Logo

Russia was one of the 22 countries that formed the General Postal Union on this date in Berne, Switzerland.  The date has been commemorated ever since as "World Post Day".

This arrangement greatly simplified all aspects of conveying mail internationally, and also allowed for simplified and generally lower postal rates as well.  For example, prior to this convention there were some 1200 different rates for the transport of mail between the 22 different member countries - subsequent to the convention this reduced down to - only one!

The developments and efficiencies brought about by this convention caused a rapid and substantial growth in international mail.

The concept proved very popular amongst countries, with many more countries joining the original 22, and in 1878 the name of the organisation was changed to the "Universal Postal Union".

 

19 June 1875J

New stamp values were released, and with a new design as well.  A 2k and 8k stamp came out at this time, and a 7k was added in March of 79.

In addition, the 10 and 20k stamps finally came out in this design, too - the first change since 1858, 17 years previously!

 

1 March 1881J (= 13 March 1881G)

Tsar Alexander III ascends to the throne.

 

14 December 1883J

Another new design is released, a mere eight and a half years since the last design!

This also saw the first issue of 14k, 35k and 70k value stamps.

 

January 1884J

Shortly after the issue of the 70k stamp, which was the highest value stamp issued to date, new stamps are issued in January 1884 for 3.5 rubles and 7 rubles.

 

1889

The first issue of a 4k, 50k, and 1R stamps appear.

 

20 October 1894J (= 1 November 1894G)

Tsar Nicholas II, fated to be the last Tsar of Russia, ascends to the throne.

He subsequently abdicated the throne on 2 March 1917J, but after living in a suburb of St Petersburg for a while, after the Bolsheviks took power he and his family were transported to Ekaterinburg in April 1918, and then on 17 July 1918 were all summarily shot.  The bodies of the entire family were hidden, but were rediscovered and in 1999 the remains were transported back to St Petersburg and buried along with their ancestors in the Cathedral of St Peter & St Paul.

 

18 December 1904


Scott B1, Michel 58, SG 81

The first semi-postal stamps appear.

A set of four stamps were issued and sold for 3k over their face values (face values were 3, 5, 7 & 10 k) with the extra 3k being donated to a fund for the orphans of soldiers who participated in the Russian-Japanese war that had recently ended with Russia's disastrous naval defeat.

Only a relatively small quantity of these stamps were printed - 278,000; 208,000; 332,000 and 191,000 respectively.

 

1 January 1905J

The first issues of a 15k and 25k stamp appear.

 

1 June 1906

The first issues of a 5R and 10R stamp appear.

 

2 January 1913J

The first issues of a 2R and 3R stamp appear.

 

9 October 1913J

The Russian Postal Service converts to metrics and the use of "lots" as a measure of weight is replaced by multiples of 15grams (just over half an ounce - 0.53oz).

 

October 1915J

Russia is starting to fall apart.  A shortage of coins caused the government to print "currency stamps" - these were normal stamps on one side, but on the other side was written (in ancient Russian script) "having circulation on a par with silver money".  The stamps were printed onto card instead of paper, and no gum was applied to the reverse.

Although intended primarily as a substitute for coinage, some were used for postal purposes.

World War 1 (which started late in 1914) disrupted Russia's international postal routes (which tended to go via Germany or Austria, both countries that Russia was now at war with) while at the same time, internal mail volumes rose sharply due to correspondence between soldiers at the front and their families back home.

Add to that the first twinges of inflation, and a shortage of postal staff, and the postal service was having a very difficult time (as was the rest of the country - one must keep a perspective on such things, mustn't one!).

 

2 March 1917J (= 15 March 1917G)

After an uprising in St Petersburg (recently renamed to Petrograd) the Tsar abdicates.  A provisional government is formed under Prince Lvov, which is replaced by a second provisional government under Kerensky on 7 JulyJ (= 20 JulyG).

During this time some stamps were issued as part of existing sets, all still bearing the distinctive double-headed eagle emblem which was the symbol of the (up until then) ruling Romanov dynasty.

No special new stamps were issued apart from some more currency stamps.

 


This page last modified on May 15, 2010