The Samovar

Probably, I shouldn't have...

David Jay - 9/1/2009 at 23:34

I've been trying to decide if this is a real example of a mute-canceled postcard sent through the mail in 1917, just
a gag someone made up for friends, a fake, or...?

Mute cancels were only rarely used in 1917, but the 5k adhesive suggest that this was "sent" about 1917, because this is when the 5k rate for postcards was first applied. Note that the "cancel" is in the same ink as the stamp underneath. this seems to say:
"G. Pihlak__/ Raijjnnas.....". Its presence seems to suggest that the "cancel" was applied outside the post office. But why would someone do this? The text is in Latvian(??) or something else I can't deciphe. Part of the address is in Russian, but I've not been able to make a familiar place name out of it.

The picture side is a photo of a German, Arnold Rieck, with a painting of a woman in the background. The "sender" has written a woman's name (Natalie) on the portrait, and there is another name I can't decipher on Rieck. It was this touch that makes me suspect a gag of some sort. If it is a gag, it is a sophisticated one, even imitating the mute cancels of the time.
The one thing the creator forgot was an arrival mark...

weird_1917.jpg - 226kB

Lacplesis - 9/2/2009 at 01:39

G. Philak was a postcard (and book) publishing house at Tallinn.

Alep - 9/2/2009 at 02:09

The text is in Estonian, but I am afraid that the cancel is a crude fake.

Jeff - 9/2/2009 at 12:11

Alexander, I am not challenging your statement about the cancel being a crude fake, but can you describe to everyone how you came to that conclusion?


Alep - 9/2/2009 at 13:25

The card was (or seems to be) posted locally in Revel/Tallinn ("siin" on the bottom of card means "here"). There is the word "ruttuline" above the address meaning "urgent" that is not typical for the local (and any other) mail in that period. And the main thing: no mute cancels were ever used in Revel in 1917 (frankung at 5 kop indicates to the period after 15 August). The violet ink was never used in Revel even in 1914 when mute cancels were actually applied there.

David Jay - 9/2/2009 at 13:41

Thanks to all that have contributed.

I suspected when I bought it that it was not genuine. But it does not seem like a fake to deceive collectors
-- why would one add the firm name, if that were the case? Can anyone decipher the address
or any of the text?

Unhinged - 9/3/2009 at 00:35

David, I hope you do get this translated, as I'd love to hear the gag. As you wrote in your original post, you think this is a gag, and from the other posts I agree. It would seem to be a personal message from someone at the publishing house to friends. It sounds to me like the author decided a couple he knew looked like the people on the card and made this up for them. If you can track this down, it would make an exceptionally fun item to have.

Good luck!

David Jay - 9/3/2009 at 00:59


Alep - 9/3/2009 at 01:51

The card is addressed to a girl at the Pihlak's store from an admirer of her without indicating the exact address of the store. Most probably, it was not delivered by the post. The stamp is cancelled by a cachet of this store. Indeed, it was not originally intended to deceive collectors. In any case, it is no postal mute cancel, although the seller tried to make it pass for such (maybe, he was mistaken himself).

Unhinged - 9/3/2009 at 20:26

David, just for the love interest here, would you mind posting a scan of the front of the card? I'd like to see what the admirer was thinking of. Imagine, if you could track this down to names, what a great article you could write! Fun, no?

Mute cancel as a cultural phenomenon

David Jay - 9/3/2009 at 23:57

Well, I quite don't get the joke, but this picture on the front is
so totally silly, I should have posted it at the beginning.
There is also a question mark across Rieck's "Bauch" I hadn't noticed.

It is hard not to speculate that the existence of mail with mute cancels in the very recent past (1914-1915; assuming this was created about 1917), had something to do with the way this was done. Isn't this how real post cards are canceled?

Thanks to Alex for reading the address.

weird_1917_front.jpg - 129kB

David Jay - 9/4/2009 at 00:04


The actor Arnold Rieck was a well-known vaudeville artist who enchanted the audience with his brilliant comic.

It didn't take long till the film business went up to this successful artist. His first movie came already in 1910 into being called "Es wär so schön gewesen".

From 1915 he conquered the big screen with most funny roles. To his well-known movies of the 10's belong "Musketier Kaczmarek" (15), "Der standhafte Benjamin" (17), "Der falsche Demetrius" (18), "Der unwiderstehliche Theodor" (18) and "Der Mann ohne Gedächtnis" (19).

He continued his film career successfully in the 20's and was convincing in productions like "Yvette, die Modeprinzessin" (22), "Zwei Welten" (22), "Das Weib auf dem Panther" (22) and "Mutter und Kind" (24).

The popular comedian died unexpected in 1924 at the age 48.

there is a rather different looking (though equally silly) picture at that site, also from a postcard.