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Monday 10 August 2015

Russia Pre-Philatelic Cancellations / Russland Vorphila

This particular Blog won't go viral. There are not many collectors of Russian pre-philatelic mail or pre-philatelic cancellations - though some cancellations continued in use after the introduction of postal stationery and even postage stamps.

Recently I bought a collection of pre-philatelic mail of Russia formed by Harry von Hofmann. I did not immediately study it - no one was pressing me to supply them with such material - though I did put one interesting item - an entire letter from DUBOSARY in the auction now online at

Anyway, today I checked the material I have against the major handbook in this field, Manfred Dobin's Postmarks of Russian Empire (St Petersburg 1993)  - a heavy bi-lingual work in 538 pages with illustrations of postmarks and maps of postal districts. I was pleased to find I have three cancellations not in this Handbook:


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This cancellation is on an official stampless wrapper. it reads DMITROV MOSK [va] GUB[ERNIYA] 18 ..... GODA. Though the date is completed in ink as 1860, the style of this cancellation is definitely pre-philatelic and it should exist on earlier material.


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Dobin lists and illustrates a similar cancellation but capable of printing the date; this cancellation is intended to have the date filled in by hand. Unfortunately, the cancellation is on an undated official wrapper the style and paper of which could date from the 1830s through the 1860s. It is possible, I suppose, that this is Dobin's canceller with the middle removed and so later rather than earlier. He gives a period of use 1838 - 1850 for his cancellation.


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I can't read this. The last word is Gub[erniya] and the middle word may identify the guberniya as Volin[skaya] The date is filled in as 1867 and it is used on a stationery envelope addressed to Novgrad Volinsk and apparently re-routed (see Mss at bottom of cover) But I cannot identify the town from which the cancellation above originates, once again pre-philatelic in style though used as late as 1867

 Readers? [ Added: See Comments below. Howard Weinert proposes Korets in Volhynia ]

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  1. My best guess is Griva, Volyn. Gub. but that doesn't seem very likely as that was a Vol.Prav. office that opened much later.

  2. The place on the postmark is Korets in Volyn. Gub. It is also written on the front of the envelope at the bottom.