The Samovar

Early Franked Mail set Abroad

David Jay - 5/16/2020 at 19:03

Attached is an image of a 18 August 1864 letter from St Petersburg to Lyon, franked with p 12.5 1k, 5k and 30k cancelled by hexagonal dot numeral marks, likely the “11” of St Petersburg’s Warsaw Vokzal. There is a rare St Peterburgsk Zh. D. “Pocht Vagon No 6” (forerunner to TPO 3-4) 6 Aug 1864 dispatch, a boxed, two-line red “Aus Russland Franco” mark of full payment, a “Koenigsberg R: 198 II Bromberg” Prussian RR mark, a A??land & Sadler Ingenieurs firm cache, a blue Prusse Erquilines 3, 21 Aug (18)64 RR routing mark, a Paris 21 Aug (18)64 routing mark, and a 22 Aug (18)64 Lyon receiver. Franking of letters sent abroad was allowed in Russia only from 1 July 1864 forward. This letter is the earliest known such letter. Matthew Bennett had a Russian mail abroad auction that listed a 1 Nov 1864 letter, one of the Mikulski sales had a Nov 1864 letter, and I formerly owned a 31 Dec 1864 letter. This one is quite a bit closer to the first possible date.

FirstFrankedLetterAbroad.jpg - 248kB

Maxime Citerne - 5/17/2020 at 16:04

Very early indeed.

There is also a cover from Tiflis to Libourne in France, franked 37 kopek (30kop + 2x 3 kop + 1kop) stamps cancelled by the Circular Dotted Postmark "49" of Tiflis, single cds departure on back 23 September 1864, red PD, boxed Aus Russland, blue entry handstamp Prusse Erquelines 24 October 1864 St Petersburg, arrival end of October in France. Blue manuscript "2". Ex Liphschutz and Bianchi. Collection Jean-Pierre Magne.

All the covers mentioned above are within the legal frame, i.e franking allowed as of 1 July 1864.

Nevertheless a small number of items are recorded before that official date, such as a folded entire from St Petersburg to Paris in France, "franked" by a single imperforate 10 kopek Russia 1 (Type 2), losange handstamp St Petersburg 17 July 1858 on reverse, red PD and unframed Aus Russland, manuscript "per Lübeck", red entry handstamp Prusse Valenciennes 4 August 1858 and arrival Paris 4 August 1858. The adhesive was left uncancelled on departure at St Petersburg - as it had no validity - and obliterated by the Russian postman at the border post office of Brest, Province of Grodno (Oval Dotted "1"). Ex Liphschutz. A fabulous curiosity.

There is also an envelope from Warsaw to Paris in France, "franked" with four perforated 10 kopek stamps Russia 5, all adhesives cancelled to order by the Four Rings Postmark "1" of Warsaw (if genuine), alongside red single departure handstamp 20 December, framed P.35 and AUS RUSSLAND, entry handstamp Prusse Valenciennes 23 December 1858. From the Wolowski correspondance. David Feldman Auctions September 2012, lot 10095 (unsold at 20,000 €)


David Jay - 5/17/2020 at 16:49

Thanks for those details. Is the Lifschutz letter the one about which there has been considerable controversy over its genuineness? If I'm thinking of the correct item, it has been argued that the stamp was added later.

There are also at least two franked letters ca. 1859-1860, sent to Tiflis. I had one franked with a 10k #8 and sold it some years ago. I saw somewhere a #2 used in the same manner. One may argue that these were consular post or offices abroad sent at domestic rate, but they are certainly also very scarce. Still, all of these are somewhat special cases -- July 1864 marks the point where foreign correspondence could be sent franked as a normal option. It only seems odd to me that there are so few examples before spring 1865. Perhaps business people were slow to take to the new approach?

Maxime Citerne - 5/18/2020 at 07:18

Quote: Originally posted by David Jay  
Is the Lifschutz letter the one about which there has been considerable controversy over its genuineness? If I'm thinking of the correct item, it has been argued that the stamp was added later.


Probably the same. Unless the Oval Dotted Postmark of Brest is proven genuine beyond doubt (including the part tying the cover), this item remains in the realm of the grey zone. That is why I finished my description with "fabulous curiosity". The impeccable provenance should not lead us away from cold thinking.

This is the cover mentioned above:

RUSSIA 1 FRANCE 1858 - LIGHT.jpg - 340kB

Maxime Citerne - 5/18/2020 at 08:03

Quote: Originally posted by David Jay  

There are also at least two franked letters ca. 1859-1860, sent to Tiflis. I had one franked with a 10k #8 and sold it some years ago. I saw somewhere a #2 used in the same manner. One may argue that these were consular post or offices abroad sent at domestic rate, but they are certainly also very scarce.

Letters addressed to Tiflis - as a final destination (I guess this is what you meant) - remain in the realm of inland mail, albeit with an attractive and exotic touch. There is no reason to consider them as being part of the consular post or offices abroad, as they clearly aren´t. In any cases, as you rightly mentioned, such destination at that time is very scarce (but not rare, in my opinion).

Nevertheless, to push your comment a little further, there is a wonderful category of pre July 1864 mail which brings the gap between outbound (foreign) mail and legitimate franking.

This is the case for outbound Russian mail sent to Persia before the UPU. As there was no traditional convention of exchange between the two countries at that time, such mail was sent franked as inland mail up to the Russian border (usually the exchange point of Djzhulfa), then carried supposedly via the consular post up to Tabriz.

Such covers are great rarities. Please find below one in my possession.

Envelope sent from Morshansk to Tabriz in Persia. Franking inland tariff 10 kopek paying transport to the Russian border, cancellation Morshansk single ring handstamp 3 November 1863, manuscript transit via Moscow then Tiflis. In Tabriz to be transmitted to Mr Vlasto in Recht.

The Vlasto were important Greek merchants in Persia.


1705 - LIGHT.jpg - 420kB

Tabriz, not Tiflis

David Jay - 5/18/2020 at 11:09

Dyslexia strikes! I did mean Tabriz, not Tiflis. See attached in image of the item I sold. It was sent 16/12/1860 from Tagnrog via Tiflis to Theodore Vlastos.

Tiflis_front.jpg - 312kB

Maxime Citerne - 5/18/2020 at 12:59

:)

Another great item, David, again from the Vlasto correspondence! Many thanks for sharing it.

By any chance, would you also have the scan of the Russia 2 sent on cover the same way? Was it also from the Vlasto correspondence?

Note 1: to this day I have recorded only 3 Russian covers franked with adhesives sent to Persia before July 1864, all from the Vlasto correspondence. Maybe the Russia 2 cover mentioned by David would be the fourth one...

Note 2: as suggested by Bjorn Sohrne, it seems that this kind of mail was forwarded with the help of the Russian mission in Tabriz, as no evidence of the opening of the consular post has been found before 1867 (then we can find the very rare Framed Postmark from the Tabriz Consular Post Office - less than 5 known with dates of use ranging from 1867 until 1877). Another possibility is that there was a Consular Post in Tabriz as early as 1860, but the official handstamp was put into service later and/or used only on departure mail.

What we can reasonably accept, due to the material available, is that in that particular situation the Russian post saw as legitimate the franking paying the transport until the border despite the mail being sent abroad. All covers were accepted as such by the postal clerks without only-cash payment.


David Jay - 5/18/2020 at 14:40

Hmmm -- I do not recall where I saw the #2 on a letter to Tabriz. I would have thought it was perhaps in the
Lifschutz collection. Or perhaps in the Corinphila auction of Faberge material? I do remember that I saw the
letter above shortly after I had drooled over the unaffordable letter with a #2, and was able to buy it quite cheaply. This was likely 20+ years ago. The letter above was sold by me in a Corinphila auction during the economic downturn, when I need to pay college tuition for our two kids, so I have no idea where it is now.

Maxime Citerne - 5/19/2020 at 06:49

I will try to find that Russia 2 cover to Tabriz in the philatelic literature.

Liked the story about your kids: one great thing about philately is the possibility of return on investment even for collectors. Good knowledge = good buy = good sell.

IvoSteijn - 5/23/2020 at 15:39

I never believed in that Liphschutz cover. I can't reconcile the routing of "Via Luebeck" with a Brest postmark...

howard - 5/27/2020 at 08:42

I have a 10-kopeck postal stationery cover sent from Derpt to Adolph Goebel, a member of the Khorasan expedition, in care of the diplomatic chancellery of the Caucasian viceroy in Tiflis, then forwarded to Teheran. Postmarked in Derpt (Dorpat) on 18 February 1858 and in Tiflis on 8 March. This is the earliest known mail from Russia to Persia. Goebel [1826-1895] was a geologist at the University of Dorpat. The Khorasan scientific expedition traveled through northeastern Persia and western Afghanistan in 1858 and 1859. This cover was carried by the extra post from St. Petersburg to Tiflis, then routed into Persia via Nakhichevan (the exchange point before a Russian post office opened in Dzhulfa in 1864). Postal stationery covers were not supposed to be sent abroad at this time.

David Jay - 1/13/2021 at 14:07

Howard -
I missed your reply to this item. Could you post an image of this postal stationery item?

howard - 1/15/2021 at 16:13

Sorry but I sold it and did not retain a scan.

Maxime Citerne - 2/25/2021 at 06:28

Quote: Originally posted by David Jay  
Howard -
I missed your reply to this item. Could you post an image of this postal stationery item?

Probably the following item:


Raritan sale 72 2017 lot 647.jpg - 194kB