The Samovar

Reuse of obsolete stationery in the 1990s

RayP - 10/16/2012 at 22:00

Gentlemen, I've started collecting the postal history of the Modern inflationary period 1992-99. My first question has to do with obsolete stationery. Not Soviet but Russian stationery from the 1992 on. I have over 50 covers that were sent internally between several cities that have no indication of additional postage begin paid-nothing. Examples 1R50k envelope used on 10 March 1994, Moscow to Moscow: rate was 50R and 30k envelope used 9 December 1993 from Chelyabinsk to Moscow: rate was 15R.

So when was the directive issued that authorized this? Does anyone know where I can find a copy and a translation?

Any information would be a great help. Thanks

Inflation in Russia 1990's

verny - 5/6/2013 at 16:30

An interesting question. I cannot offer a definitive explanation but can offer some examples of what was going on 'on the ground'.
From 1990- 2001 I spent a lot of time working in Russia and was there during both the inflationary periods including the big currency crash of 1998. The things I witnessed during those years has also shed a lot of light on what may have transpired in the 1917-22 period as well.
In respect of the inflation the rate of inflllltion as rsing faster than anyone could officially react to, rather like Weimar Germany, but Russian are weell practiced at finding ways around.
PSE's stamps envelopes etc were often sold, not at the ost office but at the small kiosk shops that were dotted around the cities. the proprietors would buy items in bulk from the post office then sell in the kiosk at a small ark up. this was fine with ost people as it often saved a trek to the nearest post office and waiting in the inevitable queue. This practice is not found desribed anywhere in official circles as it was completely unofficial although not illegal.
In the kiosks there would be one price label attached to an example envelope/PSE which was displayed in the kiosk window, this enabled the kiosk owner to reprice according to the latest inflation simply by changing the label in the window. The PSE's remained exactly the same. With inflation running rampant the post office often simply processed ordinary letters mailed in a post box without really checking the rates as any gain made by checking it all was outweighed by the costs of checking.

At this time ordinary people were also trying to make do, with many going unpaid for months or being paid 'in kind', receiving their wages in products that they then had to sell themselves to get cash. I personally know people who received their wages in the form of Wellington boots, car tyres, Vodka and even in one outlying area in Coffins. as a resut the philately is intensly interesting and all kinds of unofficial work arounds can be found each with a cause and each a solution to some problem, many of which will never be found in any official text and cannot necessarily be deduced from purely philatelic study.

It should also be kept in mind that at these times some of the worst off people in the country were low level government employees including those in the post office, their wages were an absolute pittance and this led to demoralisation which also had an impact on the rigour with which regulations were enforced.


verny - 5/6/2013 at 16:32

My apologies for the spellings in my last post, my keyboard is dying and I'm afraid I did not pick up all the typos, seem to be a lot of missing 'm's for example.

David Jay - 5/23/2013 at 00:27

very interesting post! Thank you. As you say, ots of strange things happen in such periods, and we see
them afterward. The status of postal workers from 1917 to date (and the affect of this on the post) might make a good history thesis.

Fergana - 6/2/2013 at 13:30

A very interesting and useful observation - thank you.

More on use of obsolete stationery

verny - 11/15/2016 at 11:29

Further to this thread I was recently mounting up some items I obtained in Post offices in Russia in the period 1999-2004.
Amongst these items were Postal stationery items from the late soviet period (late 1980's). My notes made at thetime indicate that the ites were collected in Post Offices in St Petersburg, Moscow and Novgorod.
This raises an interesting question:
If post offices in large cities were still using up old USSR postal stationery in 2004 what was the situation in the countryside?
It also shows the danger of assuming that 'regulations' and official announcements can be relied upon in times of change, the items in question had been formally withdrawn years earlier which could easily lead to dealers/collectors claiming that used examples were either 1. 'rare late useages' or 2. 'obvious forgeries' when in fact they were neither.
Th items referred to include Telegramme forms, receipt forms, parcel cards, address enquiry forms and money transfer forms.