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Tuesday 6 December 2016

An 1874 Money Letter from Kherson to Rostov on Don

I have just finished working through a heap of Imperial Russian Money letters. I am left with one which puzzles me:

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This letter contains money intended for the Russian Andreevski monastery at Mont Athos, but instead of being routed to Odessa, it is routed to Rostov on Don - the only example of this routing that I have. My assumption is that there was a collection point in Rostov like the one in Odessa.

It definitely started out in Kherson. There are four small private seals and then a large central seal which is that of the Kherson post office - it's readable. Around the seal are three strikes of Kherson cancellations dated 25, 26 and 28 November - the cancellations in two different styles: just look at the base fleurons. Calculations at the left of the seal (upside down on the scan) show an addition of 90 kop + 6 roubles + 5 kop = 6 roubles 95 kop so not exactly a big money letter. [But seee Howard Weinert's Comments posted below]

Finally, the letter was on its way and there at the bottom is a cancellation reading ROSTOV ON DON / 2 DEKA 74. But this cancellation is simply not in any recognisable Imperial post office style. So what is it? Could it be a cachet used by the receiving ecclesiastical organisation in Rostov?

Then at the top in a different blue - grey ink is a mark of some control office KONTROLNAYAR PALATA and a date IX 74. It is unclear whether this control mark is under the post office seal or over it. The date is deeply unhelpful. Maybe the IX is an inverted XI, in which case this mark was applied before the Kherson post office seal in November. But where was the Control Office which applied this mark? [See Arno's Comments published below]

All contributions gratefully received ...


  1. As these things go, the envelope contained a lot of money: 2000 rubles in banknotes from an Odessa merchant. The postage totaled 6 rubles, 95 kopecks (9 x 10 kop. for weight, 6 rubles for insurance, and 5 kop. for the receipt). The insurance rates were changed in 1872 so that a letter containing more than 1600 rubles was charged 1/8 % of the declared value plus an additional 3.5 rubles. In this case that would be 2.5 + 3.5 = 6 rubles. I have no explanation for the strange Rostov postmark or for the control mark.

  2. I think the postmark of the Chamber of Control (KONTROLNAYA PALATA) may be Odessa.

  3. Interesting item Trevor.
    I usually try to reproduce step by step the events in chronological order.
    I assume this happened, as i think the envelope went through many different hands.
    The sender:
    1. Someone (or some organisation - who?) prepared the envelope, and sent it to KONTROLNAYA PALATA, or control chamber/ward/house/office.
    2. At the control chamber the envelope was inspected and approved by means of the KONTROLNAYAR PALATA handstamp
    -It makes no sense to check the envelope after applying wax seals. Superficial check would be more of a postal office task.
    -It is no official postmark that i am aware of, so not applied by post authorities
    3. The envelope was wax sealed by its sender in each corner, and sent to the Kherson post office.
    The post office routing:
    4. The envelope was received 25 Novemeber - stamped
    5. On 26 November it was received by the authorised person/department - stamped 26-11
    A postal clerk assessed the 95kop rate and wrote it down on the envelope (as usual with this type).
    A clerk applied the large central wax seal. following the rules prescribed for money letters which stated that a large seal was to be applied in the centre, as well as four smaller seals.
    6. The envelope was handled by the expedition department - stamped 28-11, with a different fleuron.
    7 the envelope was either received by:
    a. The Rostov on Don post office which had special postmarks for money letters
    b. The Rostov on Don post office which did not place a receiver, which was done by the the ecclesiastical organisation.

    I described one of my money letters on Wikimedia:

    Highly speculative, but seems logical, hope it helps.