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Thursday 10 February 2011

RSFSR 1920 Revaluations: a new Provisional?

I spent three hours today online following Cherrystone's sale of the AURORA collection of RSFSR material. I bid for two items and bought one. For the rest I was a spectator, though I was very tempted by Lot 2189 when I saw it selling so cheaply ...

Lot 2024 which you can find illustrated at is a 1920 Parcel Card (without insured value) sent from Nizhne-Chulylmskoe in Tomsk Guberniya to Bogorodosk Moscow Guberniya - so this is Soviet Tomsk rather than White Tomsk.

The 78 rouble charges correspond exactly to the kopeck value stamps affixed, all revalued 100 times. There is a 1 kop, a 2 kop, a 15 kop - and three 20 / 14 kop Romanovs (Catherine).

Well, I was attracted by the fact that this is a very late use of Romanovs, and also revalued like ordinary kopeck stamps. (I am making a collection of 1920 revalued uses).

It then occurred to me (after I had bought it) that not only is 23 September 1920 a very late date for use of Romanovs, but that actually Romanov stamps had been invalidated earlier in the year at the same time as ordinary kopeck stamps were revalued upwards x 100.

Now, I thought, it would be a bold counter clerk who would use invalidated and politically suspect stamps, three of them, on the front of a card going to Moscow. Maybe he was given some authorisation to use these stamps.

The I had another thought: Tomsk Guberniya. It is from Tomsk that we get the most famous of the 1920 Postmaster Provisionals: the k.20 k. / 14 kopeck (regular stamp not Romanov) which appears to be a postal forgery pressed into service in 1920 presumably because of stamp shortages. I have a copy used in October 1920 as a single franking on a Money Transfer Form, the stamp revalued from 20 kopecks to 20 roubles to pay the 2% due on a transfer of 1000 roubles.

And then I began to wonder: Did the (head ) Postmaster at Tomsk tell the postmasters of other offices under his administration - or at least the postmaster in charge of Nizhne-Chulymskoe - that because of the stamp shortages they faced, they could use any stamps they had in stock - including invalidated Romanovs?

If anything like that is the case, then my late use Romanovs are not only revalued but also Postmaster Provisionals. In which case, I may have not spent far too much money on this item after all :)

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