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Thursday 16 July 2015

Russia 1917: the transition from the Provisional Government to Soviet power

In the Soviet Union, the anniversary of the (Bolshevik) Russian Revolution was celebrated on 7 November, the New Style equivalent of 25 October. The Russian calendar was changed (by the Bolsheviks only) in 1918, when the calendar jumps from 31 January to 14 February. Before that, all Russian mail (but not Finnish mail) is cancelled with Old Style dates.

It might seem that the 25 October is the first day of Soviet mail. However, as I understand it, the Second Congress of Soviets meeting in Petrograd did not vote to depose the Provisional Government until late in the evening of the 25th. So mail cancelled on the 25th is still Provisional Government mail. Only on the 26 October did the Soviet mail period begin - and then perhaps only in Petrograd.

It was, however, not until the 27 October that a Decree was issued subordinating the Department of Posts and Telegraphs to the authority of the Council of People's Commissars and the first Commissar of Posts and Telegraphs, Nikolai Glebov-Avilov.

The Bolsheviks did not at any point close the post offices, before or after the coup of 25th October, and it should be possible to find mail from Petrograd cancelled right through the immediate revolutionary period (say, Tuesday 24 October - Thursday 2 November: the Ten Days Which Shook the World, to take the title of John Reed's famous book). At the moment I have examples of mail posted in Petrograd on 24,25,26,30 October and 1 November (and then after that 3,4,5,6 November).

I would welcome Comments on the accuracy of my views.

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