The Samovar

Warsaw estafet postmark

Gary - 8/4/2007 at 08:45

Can anybody add information about this postmark?

EhKSP. PR. PROST. KOR. EhSTAFET, 13 February 1873


estafet.jpg - 35kB

ameis33 - 8/4/2007 at 10:11

At the moment i can just say it is 1873
Let me look for...
Can you show the front of the cover?

Gary - 8/4/2007 at 11:07

Here is the front of the cover.

estafet-front.jpg - 49kB

ameis33 - 8/4/2007 at 16:30

About this specific postmark i've not found any special information.
It is a postal stationary sent from Warsaw to Siedlce, posted the 12 february 1873, dispatched the 13 february and arrived in Siedlce the same day.
You can notice in Warsaw a double ring postmark has been used, in Siedlce just a single ring postmark. Double ring postmarks were in effect in use just in the main towns (St. Petersbourg, Moscow, Warsaw, more?).
The same postmark has been used to cancel the franking (i was saying, the stamps...) and on the back side as date stamp. I notice this fact because in the near past the beautiful four rings cancels were in use to cancel stamps (!)...
Instead of marking offices with a serial number, the postmark reflect the name of the dispatch office itself.
Taking pieces from left and from right, i guess (but it's just my guess)
"Expeditsiya priema prostoy korrespondentsii exstafet"
I leave to the russian speaking members to correct the lexicon and to tell me what does it stand for (if of course my guess could stand for something)
I can't say nothing more...
PS! As in another topic we were discussing about the use of polish or russian language, all the postmarks on this letters are in russian...
My consideration is not based on documents, but you can notice this passage together with the disappear of the old four rings polish postmarks in the first years of 70's...

David Jay - 8/10/2007 at 12:19

I'm copying here an exchange from WSRP some time back:


An "Estafet" postmark?


Take a look. The postmark is mostly bleah but the one word that is clearly legible is "Estafet"...

Any theories?

12.04.04 20:57 added by Anatoly Kiryushkin

This is a Warsaw town post item ( 1872 correct 3k letter rate ). Formally "Estafeta" means "courier delivery" but I've never seen this inscription on postmarks. Probably it's a local Warsaw slang for a common town post delivery (at least sounds greater than just "gorodskaya pochta" :)))).

29.04.04 7:56 added by David Jay

With this item in hand, I can say that it is disappointing that there
is no clear, complete cancel. Piecing together three incomplete cancels,
it says "Varshava" at top, then small fleurons right and left, then
"Ekspeditsia Gor. Estafet". However, there seems to be a symbol between each of the three words on the lower part of the cancel -- maybe "i".

End of WSRP exchange

Ignore the last bit, since I was unable to decipher the cancel correctly based
on the item I have. Two of the three cancels looked rather like the one
on the indicium that Gary is showing -- very blurry. At least now we have a clean cancel, even if its significance remains in doubt.

Analtoly's explanation, that it is associated with city post delivery, seems dubious. This letter went from Warsaw TO Siedletz (I think, at least not to Warsaw). Maybe rather City Post despatch? There does not seem to be any connection with rapid or special delivery on either letter, so a mundane function is indicated.

Gary - 8/10/2007 at 12:46

I have what the 1909 Postal Regulations say about ehstafet, but it is in Russian.

I also have what the Moscow Post Director says about it in his Reference Book of Postal Rules/Regulations for the convenience of correspondents in Moscow, 1897. However, it is also in Russian.

Would someone like to translate these for us?

Lacplesis - 8/11/2007 at 06:57

I have what the 1713, 1843, 1852, 1863, 1874 and 1880 Postal Regulations say about ehstafet, but it is in German.

You could get yourself a copy "Postgeschichte Kaiserreich Russland Vol.1" by Hans Kupec and check it out directly...

Gary - 8/11/2007 at 07:10

Do you by chance have these in electronic format?

Lacplesis - 8/11/2007 at 09:12

Ask Mr. Kupec if it is ok for him, if I copy some pages from his book for you...

Unfortunatly he gives no email adress in his book, the only thing I could offer is his ebay name: hanskupec

Gary - 8/11/2007 at 09:19

His book and it is a good one. You mentioned other sources that were not from Hans. Are any of those in electronic format?

Lacplesis - 8/11/2007 at 09:25

Originally posted by Gary You mentioned other sources that were not from Hans. Are any of those in electronic format?

Did I? Kupec is citing from all the postal regualtions I mentioned in his chapter about ehstafet post.

Gary - 8/11/2007 at 10:48

Originally posted by Lacplesis
I have what the 1713, 1843, 1852, 1863, 1874 and 1880 Postal Regulations say about ehstafet, but it is in German.

You could get yourself a copy "Postgeschichte Kaiserreich Russland Vol.1" by Hans Kupec and check it out directly...

Sorry, I misunderstood when you said I have. Now it is clear. Thanks.:(

Moscow 1897 estafet regulations

Gary - 8/12/2007 at 07:20

Here is a PDF of the regulations for the estafet post in Moscow circa 1897. It is in Russian.

Attachment: Estafet1.pdf (230kB)
This file has been downloaded 586 times

ameis33 - 8/23/2007 at 14:08

This service was introduced in the earlier periods, when letters and postage in general was transported normally by walk (funny, but it is), with horses or with postal coaches. Beside these "ordinary" posts, some "extraordinary" posts were also available: extrapost and estafette.

Should be not difficult to understand how estafette worked. The service was arranged immediately after the request, and post transported from one station to the next one (depending on the available trakts) with a horse. Than from here (changing the horse) to the next, etc. up to the final destination. The service had specific rates, and had to be paid from the sender immediately before the shipment took place. I have the full rates table for the Kingdom of Poland before 1851, and the ratio between estafette and normal shipment for a simple letter as far as i can understand was nearly 1:60. There wasn't a flat rate for this service, but the overall rate was the sum of several voices. I didn't go deep anyway.

The service was intended for letters and/or parcels. When the weight was over 3 funt, instead of horses, postal coaches (carried by a single horse) were used.

With the introduction of railroads, estafette began loosing its importance, but still was kept till late. I don't have information for Russia, but in Germany, it lasted until 1892.

I have found information about these "extraordinary" posts in some books i have, but also on the german wikipedia there is a nice description. PS! I used the german word (estafette) because i still haven't understood the related english word.

Gary - 8/23/2007 at 17:03

Originally posted by Tyukov
Special handwritten marks: "With one horse estafet"

I cannot see this. Maybe my eyes are getting old. Please provide a larger scan of the words for "With one horse estafet"


David Jay - 8/23/2007 at 21:03

The discussion of the rare letters that did travel by the "real" estafet is interesting, but does not get us any closer to the solution to the particular
mystery that started this thread. What does this mark mean on very ordinary letters (with no extraordinary charges) from Warsaw?? The two items in question were sent in 1872 and 1873. 1872 was the year that Ekspeditsia marks that indicated function (as opposed to simply having a number) were introduced in St Petersburg. So perhaps indeed they were just testing various terminologies. There is certainly no indication that Gary's letter went anywhere in a hurry -- there are "Estafet" markings from both 12 and 13 February!

jlechtanski - 8/24/2007 at 14:29

What would be a good translation of the postmark?

Ekspeditsiya for Receiving Ordinary Relay Mail?

Dobin mentions that in 1830 the St. Petersburg PO had an expeditsiya for "heavy posts and relays" (pocht i estafet) including a section (otdeleni) for "dispatching relays and summer daily mail to Kronshtadt and Tsarkoe Selo."

"Later the Office for heavy posts and relays accepted the ordinary correspondence to the suburbs of St. Petersburg ... and handed out letters received from there."

Could the letter in question be coming from the suburbs of Warsaw and being postmarked with the receiving postmark of the Warsaw Ekspeditsiya for Receiving Ordinary Relay Mail?

Gary - 8/24/2007 at 17:49

Maybe a translation of the Moscow handbook on estafet would provide insight? Just a guess.

Another estafet from 1873

Gary - 10/30/2007 at 16:48

From Warsaw to Ruda Gruzovskaya, 18 March 1873

estafet-#2-front.jpg - 93kB

David Jay - 11/10/2007 at 17:27

Very nice! -- finally a really clear mark.

howard - 11/20/2007 at 16:59

According to the law that reorganized the post in Poland (effective 1 Jan. 1871 and ratified by the Tsar on Dec. 15, 1870), one of several ekspeditsias within the Warsaw post office was for the acceptance and dispatch of ordinary mail and estafet mail, and for the sale of stamps and postal stationery. Another ekspeditsia accepted and dispatched money letters and registered letters, another accepted and dispatched parcels, another handled foreign mail.

Leshek - 12/6/2009 at 07:14

In the Kingdom of Poland there were three types of extra-mail - extraordinary, courier mail and "sztafeta = shtapheta", estafette (since 1764). Till 1851 this last one was used only for letters, money and parcels transporting to the nearest post station/office with a horse or carriage. Each station had such a duty. In KP distinguish the private and government estafettes. Since 1844 speed horse was set on 12 wiorst/h (russian wiorsta=1067m).
And also divided the estafettes into light and heavy - weight to 3 pounds and to several pounds.
Extract from the postal provisions - Calender - Łodzianin 1893 - "Estafette is the mail with correspondence which is intentionally sent at the reguest of the sender. Shipments shall be accepted at any time of day or night. Packets, parcels to weight 3 pounds are shipped by one horse with charge 90 kopeck and 6 kopeck for each wiorsta~1km.
But first letter charge - 10 kopeck, postcard - 5 kopeck. So ?

Leshek - 12/6/2009 at 08:42

Warsaw- Siedlce - tract nr 29 (Warsaw-Brest Lit.) distance 14 3/4 wiorsta x 6Kopeck=88,5Kopeck and 10 kopeck for one horse and normal postage 10 Kopeck. Total charge should reach 1 rb 8,5 Kopeck.
Request - this postmark did not mean to accept the shipment relay, was imprinted accidentally, or mistakenly, or as substitution. Probably

David Jay - 12/6/2009 at 19:52

Nice to see this thread resurrected.
We have seen enough examples of the Warsaw Estafet on very ordinary items by now (they come up on ebay every now and again) to conclude that the 1870s Warsaw mark had nothing to do with an expensive express or relay post. Could it be applied once by accident? Of course! But there are too many examples for that. And Gary's example above with the same mark applied on two successive days -- the later was not going anywhere in a hurry by relay, and it is not at all likely that the same incorrect mark would be applied two days in a row, by accident.
I think the question of the meaning of the mark has to do with the details of the Warsaw postal system partially explained above, but we haven't gotten to the bottom of the matter.

Gary - 12/7/2009 at 05:25

Is is not possible that the estafet marks are properly applied by the office that handled this type of correspondence in Warsaw? I do not remember reading anywhere yet (notice the YET) that the sender was not required to pay the cost of the actual letter. The estafet charges would be added on top of the postal cost just to mail the item. I also cannot find out if the estafet costs were to be paid in cash and a receipt from the control chambers was issued. Perhaps a copy sent with the item. Did the sender have to apply postage stamps to indicate the cost had been paid? Perhaps not. I have official documents that explain the estafet system in Russia and Poland from1837 and 1867. They are too large to post here, but can be sent via email if anybody wants a copy. Perhaps the same basic rules were still in effect in the 1870s?

David Jay - 12/7/2009 at 23:53

Gary -
I would be delighted to find that we are dealing with rare examples of the relay or courier post, but I don't think this is what we are looking at. There have been too many examples. Also, even if the sender did not pay, then I would expect to see some listing of charges.

Does the message on the card show any indication of being urgent?


Gary - 12/8/2009 at 16:47

Sorry, but I do not have a lot of time at the moment to get very deep into this fascinating topic. But some facts as supported by literature of the time and thoughts...

Estafet is a term that can be found in almost every set of postal rule and regulations from almost all locations in the Empire, especially when referring to what the post can do for their clients. The regulations include the 1830 and 1860 major reorganizations. The Complete collection of zakons from 1649-1881 also indicate the establishment of specific estafet routes and rules of use.

Poland is often segregated along with Finland from the rest of Russia proper and is even called a part of the Western Okrug in 1868.

Courier post is also listed as is extra-post.

The year-end statistical reports (obzor) for many locations often tell us how many horses there are in the postal system and how many are allocated for estafet use; how much money came in and how much was spent.

The horses used are referred to as: courier or estafet and relay.

We do now that there was a special book into which all the pertinent information such as sender, amount paid, destination, and info about stations used during transit.

We also know that there was a reduced rate for any part of the trip that used the rails if available.

The rates are very well covered. Ordinary mail, insured, registered, as well as packages could use the estafet system for a price.

It is easy to get the impression that this was as common as sending a letter via regular mail. However, the proof as applied to the letter itself or shipping papers for an item has not really come forward to be seen.

So we know the estafet function was used. I have found nothing yet that tells us the postal clerk was required to annotate the item itself and I suspect it went into a special pouch or container of some kind with the paperwork.

As such, we cannot say the Warsaw estafet marks directly indicate this item was sent using the estafet system. However, we also cannot say that there wasn't a special dispatch office or section within the Warsaw Post Office that handled estafet correspondence. We need for someone to find that conclusive piece of evidence that these marks are or are not associated with the Warsaw estafet.

Just thoughts:)

howard - 12/9/2009 at 11:23

My posting of Nov. 20 2007 explains that this postmark was used for both ordinary and estafet mail. Furthermore, the few estafet letters that have come to light all show clear manuscript indications of the estafet status of the letter and the enumeration of the various charges.

Gary - 12/9/2009 at 12:46

Thanks Howard! Seems we overlooked a word. :(

Here is the table in which this information is located. I definitely overlooked it.

Attachment: estafet people.pdf (47kB)
This file has been downloaded 567 times

Real estafet letters

Gary - 12/10/2009 at 13:01

These two items are in the collection of Vladimir Tyukhov. He published them at the WSRP in 2006. Although they are not from Warsaw, they are the only examples I can easily find to show what one looks like.

The first one is from 1871. Mr. Tyukhov's text entry was:

Free frank letter sent with "estafet" post from Syzran (19.10.1871) to Simbirsk (20.10.1871. Special handwritten mark^ "with one horse estafet" and tariff calculation:"133 versts, progon (for the horse)- 3 R,poverstnye(for the distance) - 66 3/4 K,for reciept - 5 K. Total sum - 3 R 71 3/4 K. Befor 1878 usual weight tariff for estafet letters was not charged. Estafet letters were taken by post and delevered to the addresse at any time of the day and night.

1871 estafet front.jpg - 38kB

second estafet letter from 1882

Gary - 12/10/2009 at 13:02

Here is Mr. Tyukhov's second letter and the text he entered in 2006.

Letter sent with "estafet" post from Syzran (8.05.1882) to Simbirsk (9.05.1882). Handwritten marks: 1) In one way, with estafet and 2) The packet is recieved at the court 9 May at 4 hours 45 minutes in the morning. On the back there is tariff calculation: 2 l(ots), for horse - 5 R 98 K, for the distance - 67 K, for receipt - 5 K. Totally - 6 R 70 K. From 1878 along with special rate usual waight rate began to be paid with stamps. It was a big sum for that time.

1882 estafet back.jpg - 19kB 1882 estafet front.jpg - 26kB

David Jay - 12/17/2009 at 02:19

These are terrific examples. I now remember where I saw in an auction catalog an example (or examples??) of a supposed Estafet letter(s). This(these) were in Nagl Auktionen #13 and #14, as lot 75 in the latter case. This item (items??) was (were) later discussed by Martin Siegler in Journal of Classical Philately No 8. The complication about whether there was one or two arises because the item discussed by Mr. Siegler is not in fact, lot 75, though it may be a similar item from the same correspondence. I have catalog #14, but not #13, which may be where the item discussed by Mr. Siegler is pictured. Unfortunately, Mr. Siegler does not picture the lot, but describes it, along with a very nice example send in 1844 from Moscow to Stavropol that really is an estafet letter. Mr. Siegler's discussion is very interesting. One of the Nagl items was shown to Mr. Mikulski, who thought that it was an example of Estafet post. However, if this is the case, it was only for the last stage, a delivery to a small village in the countryside. Most of the distance from Moscow, it traveled in comfort by TPO 83-84. While the instructions on the letter indicate that it should be delivered "at once", there is no notation of extra charges, and the letter spent the night in Staritsa. Had it been an Estafet letter, it should have been dispatched immediately to the village, not stored overnight. For these two reasons (no list of charges, and the slow delivery) Mr. Siegler argues (I think correctly) that this example(s) is(are) not really Estafet letters. His larger point, however, is interesting -- by the 1870s, the period for which some regulations exist (e.g., for Riga in 1878-1880), Estafet delivery was largely obsolete. Why would a card be taken by horse when it could travel (in most instances) by rail much faster? Estafet would be useless on foreign letters (the Russian postal service could only compel fast delivery within Russia) and in metropolitan Russia for most delivery of domestic mail, except in those instances where transit to or from rural post stations was need. This may be why there are so few examples known.

Gary - 12/17/2009 at 08:05

Hmmm. Not all locations were served by rails even as late as the end of the empire days. Why would estafet or similar service be obsolete for those areas not supported by rail service? Was Poland treated similarly but differently from Russia proper?

David Jay - 12/17/2009 at 12:05

Certainly it would be useful in some remote areas. But most of the examples we have come from Moscow, St Pet or provincial capitals or are to such major cities, as are the examples discussed/shown by Mr. Siegler. These places were served by the railroad post, better and better as time went on. This distribution of examples is not surprising, because up to some undetermined date, only official correspondence was carried. Siegler also argues that there is no real difference between "Estafet" and "Extra Post" -- same horses, same procedures, just perhaps different charges for different classes of users. The Sizran to Simbirsk examples above are interesting. In 1871, perhaps a rail connection was not available, but it certainly was by 1882. But it looks like no rail connection ran directly between the two places, and the letter would have had to change trains at Inza, probably. Horses would have gone more directly cross country. Still, same-day delivery was not achieved. I wonder if the rail connection could have delivered the letter the next day?