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Monday 5 February 2018

Documents of the Russian Refugee Post: Essayan and Sredinsky

The stamps of the Russian Refugee Post in Constantinople 1920 - 1921 never saw genuine use. That is not to say that the originators of the stamp issues did not want to see them used. They did take elaborate measures to prove the authenticity of the stamp issues and some postal use would have added to the sense of authenticity.

Below I reproduce two documents. The simpler one in French records the printer Essayan's agreement to produce the second series of Refugee Post stamps in exchange for the right to retain 2% of the stamps overprinted, proportional to the number printed of each combination of stamp and overprint. Refugee Post postmaster Sredinsky (later the stamp dealer Thals in Paris) has counter-signed.

This document is reproduced from a photograph of the original, not a photocopy, so it probably dates back many years. It was in a collection written up in French on English Frank Godden leaves. I would guess 1940s or 1950s for the date of the photograph.

The second document over two sides and in Russian records the agreement made by Essayan to print the first series of Refugee Post stamps. This contract is dated 11 December 1920 and is signed first by Essayan and counter-signed by Sredinssky and at the end they both confirm that the contract has been fulfilled with Essayan retaining 10% of the printing.

Like the previous document, this one is scanned from a photograph originally attached to an album page written up in French. Whatever the status of the Refugee Post stamps, these images do give us examples of the handwriting of Essayan and Sredinsky, and evidence of their fluency in both Russian and French.

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