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Friday, 24 July 2015

RSFSR Mail Abroad 1919 - 1921: More Fun than Sudoku

Click on Image to Magnify

It's a wet day here and I have been writing up a small collection of Soviet mail abroad for the 1919 - 1921 period. It's very difficult to find any mail abroad for this period and what you do find is often puzzling. Sometimes I give up and consult Alexander Epstein,

Today, I left to last the real headbanger items, like the one above. But it can be understood even if it leaves a puzzle.

The sender has folded a sheet of lined paper into an envelope. He or she has then written the address in Cyrillic at the top and Roman at the bottom but upside down - but from folds in the envelope it looks as if it was originally posted folded in half:

Click on Image to Magnify

The letter is addressed to Jos Skopal, cetnicky strazmistr [Google gives me "gendarme", so "policeman"], Kelc i Hranic-Morava, Ceskoslovensko. The cancellation top right on the first image shows that it was sent from IKOVSKOE in Tobolsk on 23 November 1921. Google gives me ONE result for "Ikovskoe" - it's a village east of Chelyabinsk, from which I guess that Jos Skopal was once a Czech Prisoner of War in the region.

Anyway, the letter picked up a DOPLATIT IKOVSKOE TOBOL oval postage due cachet without any indication of how much postage was due. But since there are no stamps on the cover and never seem to have been the Postage Due should have been a massive 10 000 roubles, the ordinary foreign letter rate having been increased to 5000 roubles (from 1000 roubles) two days before this letter was sent.

The letter travels to Moscow where it gets cancelled three times: with an oval Three Triangle censor cachet dated 3 12 21, with a circular MOSKVA 1 EXSP 4 12 21 - both these on the second image above - and with a MOSKVA roller cancel 3 12 21 and probably applied first and shown on the first image above. 

Now in a thoroughly messy and partly illegible condition the letter travelled on - and made it to Kelc where it was very cleanly cancelled KELC CSR 19 XII 21. But no evidence that the Czechs did anything about the Postage Due. Maybe Josef Skopal was well-known to the post office. 

Anyway, I now have an account of this letter and now I need a drink and will reflect on the fact that sometimes the letters you think will never arrive do arrive.

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