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Thursday 20 August 2015

Soviet Ukraine 1918 - 1921

For most of the period from beginning of 1918 to end 1920, the Soviets held at least some part of the territory claimed by the Ukrainian National Republic. At the very beginning, from January to early April 1918 they held Kharkov / Kharkiv until it passed into German occupation. Then with the collapse of Germany and Austria-Hungary in November 1918, Soviet power re-asserted itself in Ukraine - notably, once again, in Kharkiv where it was the Volunteer Army rather than the forces of the UNR which overthrew it in June 1919.

So it's possible to make a collection of Soviet Ukraine for 1918, 1919 and 1920 but very much made up of bits and pieces from the fairly short or short-ish periods during which the Reds controlled now this, now that bit of territory. It's not always easy to identify the material but there are some useful Check List points:

- the UNR never had a Free Post so Free Post items are always Bolshevik
- UNR and RSFSR Tariffs are different
- though there are periods in which mail passed back and forth between the RSFSR and  the UNR (for much of 1918, notably) at other periods this is not so and any mail going from Ukraine to Moscow or Petrograd or other obvious RSFSR areas will be Soviet mail
- in the UNR, unoverprinted Imperial stamps were invalid from 1 October 1918. But unoverprinted Imperial stamps were the mainstay of RSFSR mail throughout the 1918 - 1920 period.

One notable aspect of Soviet mail in 1920 and through into 1921 - by which time the UNR Government was in exile -  is that it uses Ukrainian General Issue and Trident overprinted stamps, but with the General Issue stamps and the Imperial low values up to 20 kopecks revalued x 100 in accordance with the March 1920 RSFSR revaluation.

What I don't know is whether there was a formal invalidation of Trident stamps and,if so, when. I have Tridents non-philatelically used on Soviet mail as late as May 1921 - see the example below. An "obvious" date for invalidation would be August 1921 when the new Arts and Industry stamps, and new Tariffs, came into use.

Click on Image to Magnify

Click on Image to Magnify

Added 20 September 2015: 

Alexander Epstein has kindly sent me scans of the cover shown below with September 1922 usage of Kyiv II Tridents. It's correctly franked at 45 roubles but it may be no more than a successful attempt by someone to use up three 10 kopeck stamps with Tridents and now worth 10 roubles each as revalued 10 kopeck stamps. It seems to me possible but a bit unlikely that the post office at Molochansk in Taurida in southern Ukraine would have possessed Kyiv Trident overprinted stamps, but they clearly belong to this cover, tied by the local cancellation and the Moscow transits:

Click on Images to Magnify

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:

1 comment:

  1. I can offer a later usage, but I'll leave it to everyone's judgment whether it's philatelic or not.
    This is a battered registered letter from Rasnopol, Kherson province from September 1922. The 90k (= 90R 1922) franking includes a 35k imperf with an Odessa trident, clearly (and erroneously) used as a 35 R (1922) stamp. Images: