Printed Matter

by Gary Combs

In a recent philatelic interchange with Philip Robinson, he sent a picture of a postcard with a mark that, at first, we both forgot that we had seen it before. That mark, illustrated below, is what became the driving force for this short article.

The Russian translates to "Printed Matter." To see the full postcard, click here.

I never paid much attention to those items with the word "pechatnoe" stamped or written on the item. They are very common especially when regarding the various collectors' clubs and associated items. However, I was curious since I could not remember seeing anything written about them.

In Russia, it was possible to send postcards at a rate less than the normal cost of postage. However, there was a trade off the sender had to make. The sender could only have a few words on the item such as greetings, etc. The rate changed for printed matter as the rates changed for other postal items over time. For items used in this article, the internal Russia rate was 1 kop. and the external Russia rate was 2 kop. for items falling into this category.

While researching for a future article on the Postage Due marks of Moscow, I was able to find in the 1909 Postal Regulations what was considered "a few words" for what I believe is related items. According to the 1909 Postal Regulations, published 9 January 1909, Otdel II, Glava 3, Paragraph 110-B, page 23: to qualify for the lower rates allowed for "wrapper and postcard mail," the following must be: Any manuscript on visit cards, Christmas and New years cards is limited to the address and rank/title of the sender AND no more than 5 words to say "greetings, etc." or their equivalent letters "Kh. V." "S N. G." etc.

Postal clerks did not care what the sender called it. They simply looked at it and made a decision if it had too many words. Many items exist that indicate "postage due" was applied because the sender went over the limit of words and had to pay the regular rate.

There was no format or standard for marking printed matter items. The sender may apply a mark or he may not. However, there does appear to be a small bit of similarity in what was added. The words used to indicate printer matter that I have observed to date are:


There are many examples of multiple markings for the same meaning applied to items. The more common combinations are:

A less common combination exists with pechatnoe, drucksache, and imprimé. This combination is usually handwritten. Click here for example.

I have noted a couple examples that used pechatnoe pis'mo (printed letter). Click here for example

To end this article and issue the usual request for additional information from collectors, the picture illustrated uses four of the noted phrases. They are: pechatnoe, Imprimé, drucksache, and printed matter. Click here for example