The Samovar

Estimate on Russia number 1

Jeff - 11/13/2012 at 17:06

Assuming this stamp is genuine, then I would say A LOT. Not much help here, but I imagine there are very few existing Russia #1s in that condition. I have a Russia #1 "unused" with no gum and a belief that the stamp was altered to appear unused. I am more interested in the existence of such a stamp than the actual going price.

Andrey - 11/14/2012 at 17:30

Based on the opinions of several world class experts in Russian stamps (including Mr. Mikulski), such stamp does not exists.

GregMirsky - 11/15/2012 at 10:04

What about pair of Russia #1 in Popov Museum in St. Petersburg? Is there anything wrong with it? I believe it does exist..

torben-mehl - 11/15/2012 at 11:34

Written by Mikulski in 2006:

Besides this unique pair, there are several known unused examples, with remnants of gum. These are probably examples, which were left uncancelled on letters. They are still considerable rarities despite their lack of gum. In the philatelic market, there are many so-called unused copies of Russia number one, often accompanied by certificates of living or past "experts". These are usually examples with pen cancellations chemically removed, with new gum applied to deceive collectors. As for myself, being an expert and avid collector of Russian stamps for the past 50 years, I am still waiting for an opportunity to obtain a genuine unused example with original gum.

Maxime Citerne - 11/17/2012 at 06:35

The last copy of a so-called Mint Russia #1 was recently sold for 55.000 euros (excluding commission) by Spink. It was stated to be one of two single copies known (the other being ex. Liphschutz), besides the Popov Museum pair.

Michel Liphschutz had no doubt about the existence of real mint Russia #1.

There are also some copies unused (no gum) that apparently didn't go through some chemical transformations. Rating RRR probably (?). Some might come from the Kronstadt line correspondance (cf. Moens biography).

The fact remains that today 99.9% of all 'unused' are pen cancelled copies with removed strike. Yet many collectors are still willing to pay 700/1000$ for such forged items.

Last year I saw such a washed copy WITH good remnant of its original gum. That was heartwarming to see :) But then the question arises: what is (are) the original gum(s) of Russia #1? Although in this case the gum looked old enough to appear genuine, it could also have been some extra gum added by the sender (or office clerk) to make the stamp stick to the letter better. Yes, in the 1858's, but maybe still not the gum applied originally by the Postal Department.

stamplover - 11/25/2012 at 13:33

Do you, folks, read our Journal? There is a definitive answer to this discussion in Hyman Lovitz's article in the last issue (No. 159). Totally impartial (unlike Mikulski) and utterly professional. Mint No. 1 does exist, period.

Andrey - 11/25/2012 at 17:33

The question was not about existance of just mint # 1, but mint # 1 with original gum....:!!

In search of the Bluebird

verny - 11/26/2012 at 15:41

The question was actually about the realistic price for such an item at auction. The simple answer if it does indeed exist outside a museum is......whatever the guy with the biggest wallet is willing to pay. Given the high prices being realised by Russian material at present no one can actually give an answer until the miracle actually happens.
Personally as jeff said I am more interested in it's actual existence and the story behind it than the hammer price.

Maxime Citerne - 11/27/2012 at 11:33

Well, if we go back to the essence of the question, which simply was 'What would the price of something like this go for at auction?', then unless a vicious strike of mental dementia stroke me hard lately I think that I already gave a (rather limited to one example) answer in my previous post: 55.000 euros at Spink lately. That is the more update sale price available for now. Let's wait and see what the future brings us... :)

Furthemore, I wholeheartly agree with my colleague Verny that beyond that price (or whatever price), the 'it's actual existence and the story behind it' is of greatest interest, more than the size of the wallet of someone else :)

In fact I highlighted the fact that Michel Liphschutz believed in the existence of Russia 1 Mint (and he got one in hios collection) also to balance the (controversial?) opinion of Z. Mikulski (as some, with or without reason, already contest the research of Mikulski about the so-called existence of two plates used to print Russia 1). It's always good to have various sides of the same story, in order to balance one's opinion.

To expand the original question further, it would be nice to hear first hand stories of people who HAVE SEEN gum (original or not is another issue) on the back of a Russia 1 copy. I did, yet I still cannot pronounce myself 100% on the subject.


Jeff - 1/2/2014 at 22:34

To resurface the thread, my collection of #1s include one used with pen cancellation and one 'unused' with the belief that the cancellation was removed - expertised by the late Norman Epstein. If anyone has a #1 on cover, can you post it here?

Feldman auction

stamplover - 1/5/2014 at 12:36

David Feldman auction sold an unused No. 1 last October for €24 plus 20% commission, a total of about $40K. See lot No. 60025. My guess is that relatively low price reflects a general downturn in pricing of Russian material rather than authenticity problems. This is just my speculation, of course.

Jeff - 1/5/2014 at 19:32

That is actually 24K Euros. Here is the link:

Maxime Citerne - 1/13/2014 at 13:00

My feeling is also that there is a general lowering in pricing of Russian material. It would be interesting to follow closely the market for the next years...

Regarding the Russia 1 with "gum" in the Feldman auction quoted above: I would not throw a bid on that one. There are too many points raising suspicion here:

- Described as a "new discovery". Rather very surprising, for there is only a couple of mint Russia 1 that have surfaced since the last 150 years. Not enough to disqualify that item above, yes, but nevertheless that is certainly a VERY unexpected discovery...

- An overal unfresh condition, especially in the printed design. Have a look at some rather pale points clearly visible here and there, for example on the upper background. And the very suspicious spot on the blue oval (left side). Typical of washed copies.

- Finally, the Sismondo certificate. Letīs be serious, this certificate has NO VALUE. A serious buyer would trust only a Mikulski certificate for such item. Sismondo clearly does not have the ressource and knowledge for expertizing such a difficult stamp. Feldman SA being located in Switzerland (like Mr Mikulski) and having without a doubt contact with Mr Milulski, then why NO certificate from him but this Sismondo certificate? A Mikulski certificate, so easily accessible from Switzerland for them, would have boosted the bids I guess.

Well maybe it is genuine, after all. But at first glance, a rather untrustable lot in my opinion.