The G.H. Kaestlin Collection of Imperial Russian and Zemstvo Stamps
by Thomas Lera and Leon Finik with Foreword by David Skipton Download the Kaestlin Flyer Email the Link to this Offer Order this Book Now!

Price Drop! As of 1 October 2017, each copy of the Kaestlin is $25. Dealers should contact Jeff Radcliffe for bulk purchase discounts.

Discover the glories of the National Postal Museum's Kaestlin collection in this book. About 365 ~ 9 x 12" pages, copiously illustrated in full color, hardbound with dust jacket. Order your copy today using the Order Form mailed to Rossica members or using the PayPal Buy Now button on this page. Books are sold on a first come, first served basis. This is a limited print run. Kaestlin's collection abounds in examples of his meticulous plating of Zemstvo stamps. Stamps are all of extremely high quality.

The discovery of the Kaestlin Collection in 2010 at the National Postal Museum represents a homecoming of sorts for one of the Rossica Society's own, G.H. Kaestlin, or G.J., as he was listed in the Rossika membership rolls. He was one of three remarkable philatelists who joined old Rossika in 1935, Theo Lavroff and N. Szymanowski being the other two. Lavroff made significant contributions to Russian philately as an author and researcher, Szymanowski as a collector (and steward of a Tiflis stamp before it went to Kaestlin).

Kaestlin, however, collected quietly, never writing so much as a word for the Rossika Journal or any other Russian philatelic magazine, nor did he ever join the London-based British Society of Russian Philately. To the best of our knowledge, he never showed his material at any exhibitions. When World War II largely destroyed old Rossika and it collapsed, Kaestlin failed to rejoin the newly reconstituted Rossica in the U.S. after the war. Thus he managed to elude notice in the literature of the times, and receded into complete obscurity. His greatest contribution, however, is to be found in the quality and scope of his collection and in the preservation of these treasures for posterity (many of them from the legendary Fabergé collection). Kaestlin's attention to detail and fastidious collecting habits, so evident in the layout and handwriting on his album pages, made him a natural source of information for Karl Schmidt, author of the monumental zemstvo catalogs of the 1930s.

Now, with the publication of this book and the support of the Rossica Society, G.H. Kaestlin can finally take his place among the greats of Russian philately. David Skipton, President of the Rossica Society of Russian Philately said, "We have been afforded the rare opportunity to help bring his collection to light, and we are very grateful to the National Postal Museum and Thomas Lera for the high privilege. It has truly been a labor of love, and a rather long one at that."

G. H. Kaestlin's Zemstvo Stamps

In 1861, Tsar Alexander II freed forty-five million serfs from bondage, and among his Great Reforms between 1862 and 1874 was the establishment of municipal government as the administrative framework for the populace. By 1914 there were 56 provinces (guberniyas) throughout Western Russia and Siberia, not including the Caucasus, the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Finland. These provinces were sub-divided into counties (rural districts) called uyezdy, which were made up of volost' administrations (groupings of villages). Thirty-four of these provinces had a number of zemstvo (zemlya = land) institutions, including a provincial zemstvo board and county-level zemstvo administrations. Each county-level zemstvo consisted of a representative council (zemskoye sobranie) and an administrative board (zemskaya uprava) nominated by the council. The zemstvos, desperate for communications, began their own courier service. Within three years some of the zemstvos began issuing their own postage stamps, beginning with Shlissel'burg's 5-kopeck black-on-green in 1865. By 1870 zemstvo posts had spread to 29 provinces, ultimately forcing the Tsar to relent; in August of that year he sanctioned the Russian Rural Post.