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Tuesday 17 April 2012
Unlike the Penny Black, the first stamp of Russia is not common. It was too rapidly superseded by Russia #2 and Russia #5 - #5 is so common that though it is catalogued in Michel at 25 euros, I sell it for 10% of that unless there is a nice postmark.
Russia #1 is catalogued in Michel at 500 euro with pen cancel, 750 with combined pen and proper postal "Stempel" cancellation, and 1000 euro with "Stempel" alone.
For pen cancelled copies with minor faults it's worth paying 100 euro. If they have been in old collections, a gentle wash may well improve them unless the pen cancel dissolves (which is unlikely).
As a specialist Russian area dealer, I am more or less obliged to keep Russia #1 in stock. At present I have three copies, shown above. On the left, a copy which has four margins and part of a BERDIANSK cancellation (not so uncommon - Berdiansk was a busy commercial centre at this time). But from the back you can see a small amount of damage caused by old hinges and their removal. I have got 290 euro on this stamp and would no doubt settle for 250-260.
In the middle, a copy with four uneven margins - on the left, part of the adjoining stamp has been cut into. So though the margins are uneven, this left margin shows you how wide the spacing between stamps actually was, making it of more interest. As well as the cancellation reading "1858" there is also the left hand end of a company's oval cachet - these are quite often seen on stamps at this period. On the downside, the right margin curves dangerously close to the design. On this stamp, I have got 365 euro and would not want to drop below 350 - this stamp has two interesting "additional" features.
Finally, on the right, is the pièce de résistance: a stamp with four neat margins, brilliant colours, set off on the blue background of a fragment with a complete BERDICHEV cancel. This stamp has a Mikulski certificate which praises the item as "aussergewöhnlich schon ... sehr guter Prägung, sauber "Adler"-frei gestempelt - extraordinarily beautiful ... very good embossing ... neatly cancelled clear of the Arms.
On this item, I have put 980 euro - 98% Michel - and I might let it go for 900. But I would be sorry not to have it in stock just to show people.
Added 12 June 2015: All these stamps have been sold