The Samovar

Chinese Eastern Railway Steamship 'Nonni'

Bill Stoten - 1/18/2007 at 15:35

Sometimes I can still be truly amazed! Yes... still. In the cold gloomy winter months and well past the season of good will and cheer, one needs a little something to keep you going till the days just get a little longer. It can be achieved by taking a trip to the Canaries or maybe the Carribean, but would I be able to take my stamps with me? Noooo! So pondering through a well known auction site the other day I caught my breath when I saw the following stamps in a lot of 'unusual stamps' I daren't believe it and it looked too good to be true, but I slapped in a bid and got them for less than a round of drinks (for two I might add).
This remarkable group of stamps, a strip of 5 2 kop. and a 3 kop. red have the mighty cancel of the 'Nonni', a steamer belonging to the Chinese Eastern Railway whilch took mail back and forth before the line was completed (according to our guides T & S) up to and around the beginning of the Russo-Japanese war. These loose stamps have superb cancels of the 'Nonni' in violet and were previously only known on a block of 4 1 kop. Post T&S, the BSRP Journal's Used Abroad Chronicle has also recorded one or two more cancels and one on a cover... but even so... a little ray of sunshine in an otherwise frosty season!!! Of course, there may be more out there... but only you can tell...

Nonni.jpg - 63kB

achlenov - 1/18/2007 at 17:08

Not trying to burst your bubble, but how can you be sure these cancels are genuine? I know that many of T&S - illustrated cancels have been forged...

Bill Stoten - 1/18/2007 at 17:51

hmmmm... well stamps are right (horiz. laid) the printing's right, the ink seems right ... colours right...
if they're fakes... the forger needs to be congratulated on a wonderful job !!
:P:P

achlenov - 1/18/2007 at 18:29

There is certainly no doubt that the stamps themselves are genuine, but how likely is it that a rare cancel is found on several stamps and the owner knows nothing about it? Everything is possible, the question what is the likelyhood? Do you know anyone who can expertize them?

Bill Stoten - 1/18/2007 at 19:05

Well I dont think theres too many accredited experts in this field.. but I think desirable is a word I'd rather use to rare. I'm sure there's many a rare cancel that lies in the bottom of a general accumulation ... I like to believe in the half full glass... ;)

Gary - 1/19/2007 at 10:12

OK. Newly found information to add!:!!

If we can locate the wreck, maybe divers can see if the marking device is still intact?;)

NONNI
Russian Volunteer Fleet Association; 1909; Rickmers Akt. Ges.; 4,105 tons; 366x9-47-7x27-3; 261 n.h.p.; triple-expansion engines.
The Russian steamship Nonni was torpedoed and sunk by a German submarine in the English Channel on December 8th, 1917.

Gary - 1/19/2007 at 16:43

Many of the images that have been used by forgers/fakers have been crude copies or digital images of the drawings of T&S. Here is a side-by-side view of Bill's stamps and the T&S drawing for comparison.

nonni-together.jpg - 65kB

Bill Stoten - 1/20/2007 at 10:33

Thanks Gary... Couldn't have done better myself! I always wonder about postal history and cancels... just how much needs to be uncovered still. I'm sure plenty. I was told once that 'only fools collect postmarks!' which may well be true... but as a 'fool' it's quite nice being able to use the information of our founding peers to make the common stamps of the period just that little more interesting!:study

Gary - 1/20/2007 at 18:05

Are you putting together a group to go after the ship's remains in search of the postmark creating device? This could make you an instant expert. :cool:

Lacplesis - 1/20/2007 at 19:09

Quote:
Originally posted by Gary
OK. Newly found information to add!:!!

If we can locate the wreck, maybe divers can see if the marking device is still intact?;)

NONNI
Russian Volunteer Fleet Association; 1909; Rickmers Akt. Ges.; 4,105 tons; 366x9-47-7x27-3; 261 n.h.p.; triple-expansion engines.
The Russian steamship Nonni was torpedoed and sunk by a German submarine in the English Channel on December 8th, 1917.


Wrong ship! No diving in the Channel...

The only thing I found on Google was that the CER also owned a ship named "Hai Lor" (Ex-Cephalonia), which they purchased from Cunard in 1900. That one was sunk for blocking Porth Arthur in 1904. May the Nonni have shared her fate?

Gary - 1/21/2007 at 18:07

Quote:
Originally posted by Lacplesis


Wrong ship! No diving in the Channel...

The only thing I found on Google was that the CER also owned a ship named "Hai Lor" (Ex-Cephalonia), which they purchased from Cunard in 1900. That one was sunk for blocking Porth Arthur in 1904. May the Nonni have shared her fate?


Why the wrong ship?

Lacplesis - 1/22/2007 at 05:21

Your "Nonni" was the Rickmers Line steamer "Sabine Rickmers" build in 1909, seized by Russia in 1914, lost in 1917 in the British Channel.

When shall she have served the CER? 1915+1916? ;)

Gary - 1/22/2007 at 07:28

Thanks! So much for a Google search?:(

Bill Stoten - 1/22/2007 at 10:20

Strange as it may seem... looking up the history of the C.E.R. on the internet (and try this web-site for information http://www.hkrs.org.hk/members/crush/CER_1.htm), the company was still operating between 1914 and at least 1917 (The Nonni's demise) and during this period were ordering train parts from the USA and France for assembly in Harbin. Now... that wouldn't explain why the markings are found on earlier stamps (demonetorised in 1910) and not on war-time issues. So this Nonni could be the right Nonni but the stamps tell us otherwise ... unless the Nonni cancel was used for philatelic purposes? Or was there an earlier Nonni?

Gary - 1/22/2007 at 18:15

No comments on the comparison?:!!

Bill Stoten - 1/22/2007 at 18:52

I think it looks right Gary - but then I'm biased :hop

jlechtanski - 1/22/2007 at 19:21

According to T&S the Nonni was purchased by the CER in 1897. That would mean it was not the Sabine Rickmers.

Bill Stoten - 1/24/2007 at 08:55

See BJRP 72, pg 33 (Spring 1992) for an example cancelling a pair of 10 kop. on registered cover (very nice too!) from an article by Dr. R. Casey. With a little more descriptive prose, the author describes the Nonni as operating on the Korean Coastal line and the cover dated december 1903.

Lacplesis - 9/26/2008 at 11:13

I just found a location report on the russian ships in the pacific ocean for Feb. 5. 1904. The Nonni is listed there as located at Vladivostock (together with 6 other larger civilian vessels). Out of harms way, I would guess.

Alep - 9/30/2008 at 07:29

Let me put an argument for genuineness of the cancel. There is a strip of 5 2-kop and a single 3-kop stamp. 2x5 = 10 kop was the rate for ordinary letters and 3-kop for postcards. So we can suppose that these stamps were removed from a letter and postcard, respectively. It is quite probable that there were only low-value stamps for sale on the ship. Otherwise, it should be a very, very clever forger!

Bill Stoten - 1/19/2014 at 12:02

The latest search through Google etc.has come up trumps regarding the Nonni.
It was built in 1901 and was captured off Gensan, Korea in February 1904 by the Japanese. It had set sail from Vladivostock and was captured alongside the Mukden. The Nonni was found to be containing arms and troops bound for Port Arthur.
By my reckoning, that means it was only operating as a C.E.R. steamship for 3 years.