The Samovar

Revolutionary overprints - postally used?

oldteddy - 12/14/2008 at 21:01

Large red so-called "revolutionary" overprints are well known. Were the stamps with those overprints postally used? How did it work - the blocks were separated and affixed to mail? Or it's kind of another "courtesy" cancels?

Revolution-ovprnt-4k-horiz.jpg - 80kB

red1999 - 12/15/2008 at 14:36

i have read, a seller from leningrad made these and had them sent to himself.

so you could say, yes, they were postally used. however, it seems at this time almost anything that was presented to a clerk got a cancel.

Logic of it excapes me

oldteddy - 12/15/2008 at 15:29

So that seller made those nice overprints covering blocks of four stamps then separated the stamps and affixed them to mail. Sorry I do not get it...

Alep - 12/15/2008 at 15:49

This would be a too simplified explanation. True, the postal administration had no relation to this issue. Actually, all this was an affair by a group of Petrograd stamp dealers headed by Trachtenberg. There are some evidence that a permission to overprint the stamps as well as some postal stationery was obtained from the Petrograd Soviet which was the second (and main!) power in Petrograd in those days, and the overprinting process took place at the printing shop of this Soviet. The stamps themselves were distributed mainly by Trachtenberg and Co but some quantities were on sale at some town post offices/branches as well. The post tolerated these stamps and stationery, since its interests were not broken (stamps were bought from the post and no revaluation surcharges were applied).
As to the postal use, two periods should be recognized:
1st period: mainly in March and April 1917 in Petrograd. There exist a number of covers and postcards franked with these stamps. Mostly, they are purely of philatelic origin and franked mainly with blocks of 4, often overfranked. A few commercial covers with such stamps exist as well and were reported in the literature.
2nd period. After taking power by Bolsheviks in Petrograd, Trachtenberg fled to South Russia, Ekaterinodar taking with him the printing plates and inks. He prepared there privately a new printing having some differences with the original one. A still greater number of local covers franked both with multiplies and single stamps was passed there through the post in the first quarter of 1918. The used copy shown by oldteddy is evidently from such a cover. Of course, forgeries exist in abundance.
By the way, the history of this issue is described well by Dr. Ceresa in one of his handbooks.

oldteddy - 12/15/2008 at 17:23

Thanks, Alexander, the part about two periods of postal usage is new to me. And how common - or scarce are those used stamps?

Alep - 12/16/2008 at 03:10

Used stamps are at least scarcer than mint ones. Of course, there exist also c.t.o. multiplies. Cards franked with the Ekaterinodar printing were recently offered at the Ebay.

jlechtanski - 12/16/2008 at 17:12

Rev. Tann also discussed the Revolutionary Overprints in his book on the Romanov issue.

The Soviet catalogs considered this issue bogus and attributed it to Trachtenberg.

With so many sympathizers in the post office, who can say they weren't sold over the counter at the post office.

As to being an official issue, with the Petrograd Soviet in power, they well could have sanctioned the printing or at least sanctioned their use.

I take it no official document exists regarding these overprints.

Gary - 12/16/2008 at 18:33

The question of "how much is it worth," although not directly worded as such (common or scarce), has not been answered. Scarcity equates to value sometimes when selling an item. But then maybe I am wrong?


red1999 - 12/17/2008 at 10:44

scarcity and demand. its worth what you can get for. ;)

Alep - 12/24/2008 at 02:54

Unfortunately, this overprint is a well-known forgery. The cancel is probably faked too.
As I mentioned before, there exist stamps and postal stationery both with genuine and forged overprints. Here is a letter-card with the same faked overprint and cancel.

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Alep - 12/24/2008 at 02:59

Here are blocks of four with seemingly genuine overprints but c.t.o or removed from some philatelic item of mail. The left block of 15-kop money stamps has a Moscow cancellation. The right piece has an overprint of another (larger) type. It is of unknown origin but considered genuine in the literature. Note also a late Petrograd cancel of April 1918.

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Alep - 12/24/2008 at 03:03

This is an overprinted letter-card evidently of philatelic origin used locally in Petrograd. It is correctly franked in accordance with the local letter rate 5 kop. Probably, it even passed through the mail as it has a receiving backstamp of the same 38th town postal branch dated a day later.

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Alep - 12/24/2008 at 03:08

At last, a formula postcard of the Petrograd MPO with the same overprint and a 4-kop stamp from the abdication multiple cancelled-to-order at the 14th town postal branch. A question arises whether this blank and the previous letter-card were bought at the post or from some dealer.

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Alep - 12/29/2008 at 08:42

The owner of БАЗАРЪ МАРОКЪ was Mr. Bade, a partner in the Trachtenberg's holding that inspired these overprints.

Lacplesis - 12/29/2008 at 17:18

Thank you Alep!

Dr. Ray Ceresa - 1/24/2009 at 07:11

I agree with all that has been said in this thread. I would add that the differences in the colours of ink used for the cross-swords also helps in differentiating the first and second 'issues' by Trachtenberg. Since so much more 'used' is coming to light from collectors I am coming to the opinion that genuine mint may be scarcer and thus worth a small premium. However, at best they are private overprints, which as pointed out, did not alter the value of the stamps purchased from post offices and as they were considered 'politically correct" at the time, were tolerated for postal use - sort of 'early use of personalised stamps' .