Russia Number 1

A Rossica Society Article 


Welcome to the Rossica showing of Russia No. 1. It is our intention to show you the design development that led up to the issuance of this stamp. We will show some of the types of cancellations that can be found on this issue and we will dwell a bit on some of the varieties that have helped make this stamp a favorite of the collector of Russian stamps.

Some of the images in this presentation are copies made from copies and do not always look as we would like them to, but they are sufficient to allow the reader to form an image.

Russia is one of the few countries to have issued postal stationary before adhesive stamps. In 1845, envelopes impressed with a 5-kopeck stamp were issued for use by the St. Petersburg and Moscow City Posts. Tsar Nicholas I decreed on 27 September 1848 that postal stationary was to be used throughout Russia effective 1 December 1848.

Tsar Alexander II agreed to a proposal on 12 November 1856 that the State Council introduce adhesive postage stamps for the use of the populace.

After the return of Councilor Tchaiukowsky from his two-year study of stamp production in Great Britain and Germany, the engraver Kirchner of the Printing Office for Government Obligations at St. Petersburg produced a series of circular essays for the proposed 10-kopeck stamp.

Bi-Color Mercury Head Essay

Figure 1-This is a bi-color version of the Mercury Head Essay. Note the intricacy of the engraving and the post horns below the head indicating its postal relationship. This essay is also known in single color versions.

Essay Test on Envelope

Figure 2-This essay has been trimmed at its border and pasted upon an envelope to better judge its appearance as a postage stamp.

The Eagle Essay
Figure 3-The second essay produced is known as the Eagle Essay. It was produced in both single and bi-color versions. Here again we see the marvelous detail and perfection of engraving.

Essay pasted on an envelope

Figure 4-This essay was also pasted upon an envelope in order to pass upon its appearance as a postage stamp.

Sample Cancellations

Figure 5-Here we see the judging process carried out one step further. Sample cancellations have been applied.

Second Type of Bi-Color Essay

Figure 6-The second type of Eagle Essay was now produced and seen here in a bi-color version. This is similar to the actual postal stationary in use at that time. The top inscription reads "10 kopeck per lot" or around 1 ounce and the bottom inscription says "1 kopeck for the envelope." Note that, unlike the first Eagle Essay, the eagle now holds an orb and scepter in its claws. Again, note the posthorns below.

Bi-Color Essay Bi-Color Essay

Figure 7-Here are other bi-color versions of the same essay.

Group of Brown-banded Essays

Figure 8-Here is a group of brown-banded essays with various background colors.

Another Group of Color Combination Essays

Figure 9-Another group of additional color combinations is shown here.

Tete-beche Essay

Figure 10-The same essay was produced tÍte-bÍche, in black on pink paper.

Trial round perforation

Figure 11-Here we see a trial perforation in the round.

Sample Cancellations

Figure 12-Here we are looking at sample cancellations using a fantasy number 12 in a rectangle within a dotted circle.

Tiflis Local

Figure 13-This is the Tiflis local. Though not generally acknowledged, it is actually the first officially issued adhesive stamp of Russia. It was produced by the Viceroy of the Caucasus with the consent of the Tsar. It was issued in Tiflis in November of 1857. This was a month before the generally accepted Russia No. 1 was distributed to the post offices and two months prior to their official date of issue. The Tiflis stamp continued in use until June of 1858. This stamp was embossed in strips of five on heavy cream colored carton board. Only three single copies are known to have survived though rumor has it that another single copy and one on cover do exist. It first received international attention when the Faberge Collection was auctioned in the fall of 1939. This particular copy was lot #2 in that sale. It was purchased by Stibbe and in the 1957 Robson Lowe auction was sold to Paul Davidson of Chicago. It subsequently passed into the hands of the late Robert Baughman and on 24 March 1971 was sold by Robert Siegel to its present owner. This stamp portraying the coat of arms of Tiflis can be considered the world's first Topical Stamp. In the upper left quadrant of the coat of arms we see Noah's Ark on Mr. Ararat. At the upper right, the plowed fields of the surrounding countryside. In the center is a knight on horseback while the bottom half is occupied by a winged staff and medical caduceus. For those interested in further details concerning this stamp, I recommend an article by our former president Gregory Salisbury in Rossica Journal #46-47 of 1955.

Gottlieb Hasse & Sons Proposal for Russia 1

Figure 14-This is a beautiful artist's rendition of a proposed acknowledged, it is actually the first officially issued adhesive stamp of Russia. It was produced by the Viceroy of the Caucasus with the consent of the Tsar. It was issued in Tiflis in November of 1857. This was a month before the generally accepted Russia No. 1 was distributed to the post offices and two months prior to their official date of issue. The Tiflis stamp continued in use until June of 1858. This stamp was embossed in strips of five on heavy cream colored carton board. Only three single copies are known to have survived though rumor has it that another single copy and one on cover do exist. It first received international attention when the Faberge Collection was auctioned in the fall of 1939. This particular copy was lot #2 in that sale. It was purchased by Stibbe and in the 1957 Robson Lowe auction was sold to Paul Davidson of Chicago. It subsequently passed into the hands of the late Robert Baughman and on 24 March 1971 was sold by Robert Siegel to its present owner. This stamp portraying the coat of arms of Tiflis can be considered the world's first Topical Stamp. In the upper left quadrant of the coat of arms we see Noah's Ark on Mr. Ararat. At the upper right, the plowed fields of the surrounding countryside. In the center is a knight on horseback while the bottom half is occupied by a winged staff and medical caduceus. For those interested in further details concerning this stamp, I recommend an article by our former president Gregory Salisbury in Rossica Journal #46-47 of 1955. stamp which was submitted to the Imperial Russian Postal Authorities by the firm of Gottlieb Hasse and Sons of Prague in 1856. This might be considered the origin of the first stamp as its design characteristics are very much like the issued version. Sir John Wilson, former keeper of the Royal Collection, owned four different color combinations of this item. They were: blue frame with carmine center; brown frame with blue center; carmine frame with green center; green frame with carmine center. A fifth combination blue frame with orange center is believed to exist also.

Pen and Ink Sketch from the Russian Printing Office

Figure 15-This pen and ink sketch has a notation attributing it to the designer Franz Keppler of the Russian Printing Office. It is dated October 21, 1856.

Original Artist rendition

Figure 16-This is an original artist's rendition in oil paint on specially coated, perforated paper in the exact size of the issued stamp. This just recently came to light and is believed to be unique.

First impression from the engraved die

Figure 17-This is the first impression from the engraved die. At the top and bottom we see Keppler's name denoting it as his work.

Another impression with center removed.

Figure 18-While the previous impression was made on thin unglazed paper, the second impression is on thick glazed paper. Note the break in the glaze in the center. While the cause of this is unknown, one can hazard a guess. We suggest that this proof had an image of some kind printed in the center and that it was possibly out of register or unapproved. Therefore, an attempt was made to eradicate it, causing the broken surface. The key to this assumption lies in the double impression of the designer's name at the bottom. This suggests that a second die, also bearing the designer's name at the bottom, had been used for the center. This is the only area where a double impression is visible. Please note that this proof was not created by the same die as the previous Figure. Note the single dot after the 10 at the left in the lower curved "10 kopeck" inscription. We believe that this die gave birth to the cliche which printed the rare "dot after 10" variety.

Third impression

Figure 19-This is a third impression on soft wove paper.

Die impression

Figure 20-Here is a die impression on perforated wove paper.

Green/Purple

Figure 21-Here we see the first of a series of color proofs. (Green/purple)

Green/red

Figure 22-Another color combination. (Green/red)

Mauve/light orange

Figure 23-Another combination (Mauve/light orange)

Green/light orange

Figure 24-Another combination. (Green/light orange)

Blue/orange

Figure 25-Another color combination (Blue/orange)

Dark blue/dark orange

Figure 26-Here is the dark blue and dark orange combination which was chosen for the 20-kopeck stamp.

Blue/light green

Figure 27-Another color combination. (Blue/light green)

Orange red/dark green

Figure 28-Still another color combination. (Orange red/dark green)

Red/purple

Figure 29-This is the last of our color trials. (Red/purple). V. Rachmonov in his article for the Collector's Club Philatelist of September 1953 list eleven other known color combinations. The eleven and the nine shown here gives us twenty combinations.

Die proof on India Paper

Figure 30-This is not an actual block of four. It is a die proof on India paper. One other such die proof is known and was sold in a Robert Siegel auction to a New York dealer for a very small sum as it was badly mutilated. This dealer had the item cleaned, thins and tears were repaired and the paper sized to give it more body and to hide the work done on it. It was then offered as a fine and rare proof. Such perfidy is, unfortunately, not rare and the collector must always be on guard.

Full sheet

Figure 31-This is a full sheet of the original paper used for printing Russia No. 1. The impression in the borders, starting at the left side, reads "Postal stamps 10 kopeck in silver" The bottom bears the date "1857."

An Unused stamp?

Figure 32-We see here what is normally described as an unused stamp. This means a stamp which had been applied to an envelope and had gone through the mail service, but for some reason had escaped cancellation. At a later date the stamp was removed from the envelope. This type of stamp is generally characterized by the rubbed look of the embossed center.

An Unused stamp?

Figure 33-This is another example of an unused stamp. The color difference is due to the photographic film used to make the Figures and is not the stamp.

First Day Cancellation

Figure 34-Here is a stamp canceled on the first day of issue. The postmark reads "MOSCOW 1 Jan. 1857." This is an error in the year date plug since it should be 1858. Two copies of such an error are known.

Cover used on the first day

Figure 35-This cover was addressed to Warsaw and was postmarked Kovno 1 Jan. 1858, the first day of usage. Note the stamp is pen canceled but also has a figure "2" in manuscript. The explanation for this is not known.

Pen canceled stamp.

Figure 36-This pen canceled stamp is important because it illustrates the exact spacing of the stamps on the sheet. Notice that at the upper right corner we can see the upper left side of the adjoining stamp. Please notice the extremely long serif on the "1" in the upper right corner.

Straight two-line town cancel.

Figure 37-Here is an example of a straight two-line town cancel.

Boxed two-line cancel.

Figure 38-This is a boxed two-line town cancel.

Rare double cancel in red.

Figure 39-A rare double cancel in red. The vertical cancel is a straight two line type while the horizontal cancel is a boxed two-line type.

Rare script cancellation.

Figure 40-This is the rare script cancellation of Berdichev.

Single Red Cancel.

Figure 41-Here we have the single red circle cancellation of Dinaburg.

Boxed dot cancel.

Figure 42-Here is a boxed dot cancel #133 for Ovrich, Zhitomir Province.

Very rare pair with pen cancellation.

Figure 43-Multiples of No. 1 are scarce, and while a strip of 5 is known and a strip of 3 not tied to a cover exists, pairs are not common and, of course, are most desirable. This pair has a simple pen cancellation.

Double circle cancellation.

Figure 44-This pair shows the double circle cancellation of Kiev.

Four-ring circle cancel.

Figure 45-Another pair, this time with the four-ring circular cancel of Sokolow, Poland.

Types 1 through 3.

Figure 46-On this drawing we see three types of the number "10" to be found in the upper right corner, Type I shows both figures to be the same size but the zero is set lower than the "1." Type II shows the zero is larger than the "1" but both are of even height at the top. Type III has the figure "1" smaller than the zero and does not match the setting of the zero at either the top or bottom.

Cover with Fulpius retouch.

Figure 47-Here is a cover with a stamp with the "Fulpius retouch," named after the man who first recorded it. A close-up is on the following Figure.

Fulpius retouch close-up.

Figure 48-The close-up shows the dashes in the upper right background have been strengthened. They appear heavier than on previous examples.

KOPECK variety.

Figure 49-This stamp with a Type I upper right corner illustrates another variety. On the dark brown oval encircling the blue center, the "K" of "KOPECK" is missing its upper right arm.

Type II.

Figure 50-This stamp has a Type II upper right corner. The figure "1" in the lower left corner has an unusually long serif.

Broken 0 variety.

Figure 51-With tongue in cheek, we will call this stamp a forerunner of the broken "10" variety. Just below the figure "1" in the brown left corner can be seen a small white piece which has broken away from the "1."

Broken 0 example.

Figure 52-An example of the broken "0" in the lower left corner. Note that here the "0" is broken but the "1" is intact. The upper right corner is Type II.

Broken 10.

Figure 53-Here is the broken "10" variety in full bloom. The bottom of the "1" has disappeared and the bottom of the "0" has crumbled away completely.

Another broken 10 variety.

Figure 54-Here is another example of the broken "10" variety.

Keyhole variety.

Figure 55-This is known as the "keyhole" variety. Look at the "0" in the lower left corner. The name becomes obvious.

Keyhole variety.

Figure 56-In this stamp we can clearly see that the "keyhole" was caused by some foreign matter on the cliche.

Dot after 10 variety.

Figure 57-This is the rarest variety of No. 1, the so-called "dot after 10" variety. If you remember at the beginning of the show we saw a die proof of this self same type.

Another dot after 10 variety.

Figure 58-Here is another example of the "dot after 10" variety. With this second example, the original show comes to an end. The following pictures are additional number ones on and off cover. Enjoy!!