20 Ruble Essay

by Ray Pietruszka


Size: Design: 16 x 25mm
Overall: 21 x 29 mm
Color: Black
Paper: Soft woven, unwatermarked
Perforation: Line 11.5 x 11.5 (Linn Gage)
Printing: Offset or Lithograph

A few years ago I bought this essay from one of the better know Auction Houses. The description said it was an Essay from 1921. Since then it has sat in my box waiting to be included into my collection. This year I started rebuilding my exhibit and plan to include this essay in it. Upon examination, I've come to the conclusion that the description is wrong.

The auction catalog stated it was an essay from 1921. This doesn't make much sense. First is the style, it doesn't look like any of the designs used at this time. All of the design used bold symbology to depict the revolution, this design is understated and subtle. Second is the workmanship, this is a finely engraved design with a lot of detail and scroll work. Third, is the quality of production, the paper is a high quality woven paper, printed by offset and perforated. The only stamps issued in 1921 that were perforated were reissues of the Tsarist stamps. This essay is line perforated 11.5 x 11.5 while the Tsarist stamps were 14.5 x 15. It is also taller than a regular size stamp.

Based on the qualities of the design, I place the design as late 1922. The qualities are more likely to be found then, though the quality of the design is still superior to the stamps produced in late 1922, early 1923. But the Star with the Hammer and sickle is closer to that used in the December 1922 Overprint issue. Also the 20 Ruble value supports this time period. The currency reform of 15 April 1922 would have created the need for stamps in the new currency. The Domestic Postage rate was 20R in November and December 1922 and the Foreign Rates had a 20R rate in May and June 1922. 

The author seeks more information on this essay. Was it part of a proposed series, who was the artist, when was it prepared? Any information will be a great help.

You can reach Ray here via e-mail.