By Rick Miller
My great-grandfather, Konrad Wilhelm Mueller, immigrated from Russia to the United States in 1875.
That bit of knowledge planted in my brain as a child has led me to a lifelong fascination with Russia and all things Russian.
Russia has suffered a great deal in the past 200 years, and that is reflected in stamps connected with Russia being scattered through the volumes of the ScottStandard Postage Stamp Catalogue like jacks in a canasta deck.
The story starts with the Russian Empire in 1857. A 1913 Russian Peter I the Great stamp (Scott 91) is shown in Figure 1. The empire collapsed amid war and revolution in March 1917, replaced briefly by a republic under a provisional government that was overthrown in the Bolshevik coup of November 1917. As many of the non-Russian parts of the former empire declared independence, the Bolsheviks battled the Whites for control of Russia in the Russian Civil War (1917-23).
The Bolsheviks established the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic and gradually spread its control over all of Russia. A 5-ruble Russian Peasant stamp inscribed with the Cyrillic letters "RSFSR" (Scott 240) is shown in Figure 2.
By 1923, the Bolsheviks had reasserted control over several areas of the Russian Empire that had essayed independence: notably Ukraine, Byelorussia, Karelia, the Transcaucasian republics, the central Asian nations and Siberia.
To govern this new multinational empire, in 1923 they created the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, of which the RSFSR was the largest and most influential member.
The first stamps of the Soviet Union inscribed "USSR" in Cyrillic letters were issued in 1923. A 1928 Soviet 18-kopek Cavalryman stamp (Scott 404) is shown in Figure 3.
In 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed under the weight of its own bureaucratic and economic inefficiency and the rising tide of nationalism in its captive states. The last stamps inscribed "USSR," ironically honoring Russian historians (Scott 6052-55), were issued Dec. 12, 1991.
Although Russia and the Soviet Union were not the same thing, for its entire 68-year life, the Scott editors listed Soviet stamps under Russia. Now that the Soviet Union is a dead country, it is perhaps just as well that they stay there.
From the ashes of the Soviet Union emerged the Russian Federation, which issued its first stamps on Jan. 10, 1992. A 1998 Russian Czar Nicholas II stamp with se-tenant label showing the imperial family (Scott 6460) is shown in Figure 4.
One of the whimsically nicknamed Karelian Golfing Bear stamps (5-pennia, Scott 1) is shown in Figure 5. Karelia was an area inhabited by people related to the Finns that was briefly independent in 1922.
Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan proclaimed independence in 1918, but were brought to heel by the Red Army. Briefly united as the Transcaucasian Soviet Federated Socialist Republics, they were inducted into the Soviet Union in 1923. A 75,000-ruble Oil Fields stamp (Scott 15) is shown in Figure 6.
Siberia is the vast area of Asiatic Russia lying between the Ural Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. The stamps listed under Siberia were issued by a series of White provisional governments. A 1921 Provisional Priamurye Government 20-kopek-on-3½-ruble Russian stamp (Scott 61) is shown in Figure 7.
The stamps of South Russia are a mixed bag, having been issued by the Don Cossacks, the Kuban Cossacks, the Crimean provisional government and the army and provisional government of Gen. Anton Ivanovich Denikin. A 1919 1-ruble St. George stamp (Scott 66) issued by General Denikin is shown in Figure 8.
The Far Eastern Republic, a puppet state set up by the RSFSR in opposition to the White governments in Siberia, controlled territory stretching from Lake Baikal to the Pacific coast. A 1922 4-kopek Arms stamp (Scott 51) is shown in Figure 9.
One of the last areas to be added to the Soviet Union was Tuva (listed in the Scott catalogs as Tannu Tuva), which lies between Siberia and northwestern Mongolia.
In 1944, Tuva was incorporated as an autonomous region in the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic. Today it is an autonomous republic within the Russian Federation. A 3-kopek Tuvan Inside Yurt stamp (Scott 47) is shown in Figure 10.
Other stamp issuing entities with ties to Russia include Aunus, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Batum, Czech Legion, Estonia, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, North Ingermanland, Ostland, Ukraine, Wenden and Western Ukraine.
July 30, 2015 08:04 PMIn the Editor’s Insights columns in the July 20 Linn’s Stamp News monthly and the Aug. 10 weekly Linn’s, I mentioned Linn’s Editorial Advisory Board without giving too much detail. Linn’s goal is to engage its audience both in print and online and to grow this audience. The role of the newly formed Linn’s Editorial Advisory Board is to assist us achieving these goals by keeping us focused on the needs of our audience and helping us adapt to today’s market. Read More ›
July 30, 2015 09:01 AMAs in previous years, Rarities Week, the series of sales conducted June 22-26 by Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries in New York, included several name sales as well as an assortment of notable items from around the world. The week kicked off with something of a do-over: a sizable assortment of better United States stamps and covers that had appeared in four previous sales, but whose winning bidder then failed to pay for them. Read More ›
July 23, 2015 04:35 PMThe Tieton, Wash., post office is a simple 1935 cement block building with a slat wood facade. Townsfolk in the agricultural community of 1,200 in central Washington believe the post office could become a landmark, if only the United States Postal Service would allow them to cover the front with a stamp-like mosaic. Read More ›
July 23, 2015 03:11 PMThe American Philatelic Society will host the nation’s largest annual stamp exhibition Aug. 20-23. The show will take place at the DeVos Place Convention Center, 303 Monroe Ave. NW, Grand Rapids, Mich. Read More ›
Watch as Scott catalog senior editor Marty Frankevicz discusses the largest souvenir card produced by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. The card is one of three issued to honor the centenary of San Francisco’s Panama-Pacific International Exposition.
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News associate editor Michael Baadke discusses Canada’s recently recalled $1.20 Dinosaur Provincial Park stamps featuring inaccurately described Hoodoo rock formations.
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News editorial director Donna Houseman discusses the discovery of another pane of the intentionally created upright variety of the $2 Jenny Invert stamp.
Chad Snee discusses the recent sale of the glass locket containing the famed 1918 Jenny Invert airmail error stamp.
It is always a treat to get to see stamp dealers’ own collections.
In the recently concluded Linn’s United States Stamp Popularity Poll, the Circus Posters set of eight stamps was chosen as the overall favorite issue of 2014.
Dispersal of the splendid Daniel B. Curtis collection continued March 25, with Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries gaveling items from United States back-of-the-book and possessions.
The 175th anniversary of the first postage stamp, Great Britain's Penny Black, is May 6, but the stamp was placed on sale May 1, 1840, for mailers to use beginning on May 6, the designated issue date.