The Samovar

Inflation Era Postage Due

jlechtanski - 9/22/2007 at 15:19

Here is a letter from Bobruisk, Minsk Guberniya to Brooklyn, New York, USA from Oct 1923.

It seems the postal workers must have worked hard checking for postage due. The cover is stamped with 550k and was assessed 12 cents postage due.

Are the calculations correct?

Would the "T" have been placed on the cover by the Russian PO?

Bobruisk - Brooklyn Postage Due.jpg - 69kB

The Back of the Cover

jlechtanski - 9/22/2007 at 15:21

Bobruisk - Brooklyn Postage Due Back.jpg - 103kB

jlechtanski - 9/23/2007 at 20:40

Your calculations look correct for the 1-15 Oct 1923 rate of 45r (expressed in the paper currency of 1923).

However, looking more closely at the postmarked stamps on the back of the cover, the postmark appears to be 30 Oct 1923.

The rate at that time would have been 0.40r expressed in hard gold kopecks.

What truly amazes me is how any foreign postal worker would even attempt to calculate the postage due on Russian mail during this period. The constantly changing rates and the use of old RSFSR, Imperial, Saving, Control and Fiscal stamps at values differing from their face values would make such calculations a major undertaking.

Alep - 9/24/2007 at 02:15

The exchange rate on 30 October was 1 gold kop. = 6 rub. 85 kop., i.e. the cover should be franked on 137 rub and the underfranking was 92 rub. or 13.4 gold kopeks. Probably, 1 cent was nearly equal to 1 gold kop. at that time.

Lacplesis - 9/24/2007 at 08:39

Did you consider the missing second stamp on the front in your calculations?

Alep - 9/24/2007 at 12:56

With a great degree of probablity, the missing stamp could be one more #241=10 rub. In this case, the original franking was 55 rub 10 kop and the deficiency 81 rub 90 kop giving almost exactly 12 gold kop. I am no expert in the field of currencies and money circulation, but the gold ruble could possibly be equated originally to the USD, couldn't it? Of course, it is only speculation.

jlechtanski - 9/24/2007 at 19:17

My mistake. The rate was indeed 0.20r. The registered rate was 0.40r.

The chervonets was not completely backed by gold. Therefore, there would probably be an established exchange rate between it and the US$.

From the Bank for Development and Foreign Economic Affairs or

“Each issued Chervonets was backed by highly tradable goods, by at least 25% of gold, by other precious metals and a stable foreign currency. The rest of the Chervonets was backed by commodity bills of exchange and other short-term liabilities.”

Alep - 9/25/2007 at 02:05

Sorry, my mistakes too. I quite forgot that in 1923 the deficiency should be calculated relative to the registered rather than doubled ordinary letter rate. This means: (40 x 6.85) - 55.10(?) = 218.90, i.e. 32 gold kopeks. Thus, there are too many unknown quantities...

jlechtanski - 9/25/2007 at 19:42

The inflation era is quite interesting and difficult just based on the responses

The item I picked seems to have many unanswered questions.

I think I will investigate this area further. Thanks for all the replies.

A late observation!

Fergana - 9/26/2007 at 04:50

Regardless of the exact deficiency amount and the reason for it, an important piece of information appears to be missing. So here’s my 2 cents worth!
A Russian post official, having decided that postage had been underpaid, applied the T(axe) mark and sent the letter on its way. I admit I know very little about UPU procedures of the day but in the absence of contrary information it appears to me that NY had to treat the letter as a straight forward Unpaid. But what happened to the Postage Due label? Was it soaked off along with the “missing” Russian stamp? Was a Postage Due label used? Was the 12cents charge raised by NY ignored by the delivering office? Is there a Postage Due specialist reading this stuff?