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Monday 16 January 2012

Ukraine: 1918 Cash on Delivery Letter

High value Tridents are normally only seen on Money Transfer Forms and, less often, Parcel Cards. Often they are clipped or punched.

Very rarely, they can be found on letters like this Cash on Delivery letter from ODESSA 5 11 18 to ROVNO VOL 8 11 18 with typical blue arrival cancel. Remarkably, the franking appears to be correct using Alexander Epstein's Tariff table published in Ukrainian Philatelist 2004:

3 kopecks for each ruble or part ruble : 342 x 0.03 = 10 r 26 k
Inland letter , first weight step 25 k
Registration fee 25 k
Total 10 r 76 k

The franking is provided by no less than 5 Odesa Trident types:

Type 2 on the three 2 kopeck perforated stamps
Type 3 on the 50 kopeck perforated
Type 4 on the two 10 kopeck perforated
Type 5b on the two 3r 50 black and grey on vertically laid paper
Type 6b on the three 1 rouble perforated

I believe that there was once an archive of letters from this period and to this address in Rovno; I am sure I have seen other examples. Some of them may have had the front removed, so that they are only cover backs. At one point, I had in my collection (ex Lindenmeyer if I recall) part of a cover back to Rovno with a high value franking including a couple of Kyiv Type E stamps. One or more stamps had been clipped from the cover back. I let Ron Zelonka have this item: whatever Kyiv E was, the existence of the cover back implied that it was a non-philatelic type.


Postscript 17.01.2012: This item has now been SOLD

Added February 2020: Most of my Ukraine-related Blog posts are now available in full colour book form. To find out more follow the link:

Saturday 7 January 2012

Crude Zemstvo Fakes in a Serious Collector Journal

Back on 16 August 2010 I complained about serious collector journals allowing contributors to show off fake material as if it is genuine. Of course, they believe their material is genuine, they just haven't looked at it carefully enough.

Here's another example from the British Journal of Russian Philately #101, just published. Full of excellent material by deeply knowledgeable collectors like Dr Raymond Casey (Ship Mail), Jack Moyes (Fiscals and Vignettes) Edward Klempka and Terry Page (Zemstvos), it also gives a page to the crude fakes shown above.

I do not have the cards in front of me, so I cannot tell you if the NIKOLSK and NIKOLSK ZEMSTVO postmarks are digital forgeries or made with handstamps. But even in a black and white illustration it is possible to see that the ink of the NIKOLSK postmark is wrong for an Imperial postmark of this period.

The use of large format Currency Stamps and War Charity stamps make it possible for the forger to cover up what was originally on the postcards - the low value Imperial Arms stamp or stamps and associated postmarks. So a thorough forensic analysis of these cards would involve steaming off the stamps to see what is underneath.

Perhaps it is not even necessary. On the second card, look to the left of the "29" of the NIKOLSK VOLOG cancel and you can see what may be part of a postmark obscured by the two stamps. On the top card, look at the gap between the Nikolsk Zemstvo stamp and the first Currency Stamp. There is clearly something underneath...

Thursday 5 January 2012

Orgeev, Moldova SSR, 1940

At the end of June 1940, the Romanian government submitted to a Soviet ultimatum and evacuated its civil and military administration from Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina. The Soviet Union then occupied these areas. Areas with a Slavic majority were incorporated into Ukraine and the (southern) remainder became the Moldovan (or Moldavian) Socialist Soviet Republic, a full constituent republic of the USSR.

In this first incarnation the Moldovan SSR lasted a year before German troops occupied it. Mail is relatively uncommon.

Here is a Money Transfer Form for 20 roubles sent from KRASN. OKTYARBR [Red October] in Stalino Oblast on 22 11 40. Received in ORGEEV MCCP on the 26th, it was signed for on the 28th and archived on the 30th after a 20 kopeck stamp was affixed and cancelled.

Curiously, the address on the front begins as follows:

Bessarabskaya Guberniya
Orgeev Uezd

Obviously a post office clerk whose memory went back to Imperial times!


Postscript 6 January: Red October is probably the post office of the Red October factory, famous from the Battle of Stalingrad. Stalino is now Donetsk and before it became Stalino it was Yuzovka, after the Welshman Hughes who played a major role in developing its metallurgical industries