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Soviet Russia

RSFSR

Issues of 1918-1922



The first postage stamps of Soviet Russia were issued in November 1918, celebrating the first anniversary of the establishment of the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic.   The period from 1918 to 1922 was a tough time for the fledgling socialist state.  First, there was the ongoing Russian Civil War, that would not actually end until the formation of the USSR in 1922.  Secondly, the RSFSR was not immune to the economic disaster that was beginning to sweep across Europe, and that was the period of hyperinflation, as can graphically be seen in their definitive postage stamp issues.



A lot of errors occurred during the production of these stamps, such as double impressions, inverted surcharges, double surcharges, missing surcharges, and varying paper types.  They are all relatively common.  Please refer to the major catalogs for details.



There was one last revolution during 1917, and it is the one that most people remember .... the October Revolution.  The October Revolution lasted from November 7 to November 8, 1917 (Gregorian Calendar)

The Bolshevik majority of the Russian Socialist Democratic Party (Communist Party), under the leadership of Vladimir Lenin and Leon  Trotsky, took control of the Provisional Government of the Republic of Russia.  On November 9, 1917, the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic (RSFSR), also known as Soviet Russia, the world's first socialist state, became a sovereign nation.  This Russian state was the same as today's Russian Federation, an immense nation that stretches from Eastern Europe to the Pacific Ocean. 



The two commemorative Soviet Russia stamps shown above were issued on November 7, 1918 to celebrate the 1st Anniversary of the October Revolution.

The common design features an allegorical representation of "Severing the Chain of Bondage".

The catalog attributes are as follows:

  • 35 K.  (1918 - Sc. #149) - Blue.
  • 70 K.  (1918 - Sc. #150) - Brown.

These stamps also exist in imperforate pairs.



The ten definitive Soviet Russia stamps shown above were issued in August 1921.  The stamps are lithographed on unwatermarked paper of various types, and they are imperforate.  These were the first stamps that were inscribed RSFSR in Cyrillic letters.

The common designs feature:

  • Symbols of Agriculture
  • Symbols of Industry
  • Symbols of Agriculture and Industry
  • Symbols of Science and the Arts.

The catalog attributes, for stamps printed on regular wove paper, are as follows:

  • 0001 R.  (1921 - Sc. #177) - Orange.
  • 0002 R.  (1921 - Sc. #178) - Light Brown.
  • 0005 R.  (1921 - Sc. #179) - Dull Ultramarine.
  • 0020 R.  (1921 - Sc. #180) - Blue.
  • 0100 R.  (1921 - Sc. #181) - Orange.
  • 0200 R.  (1921 - Sc. #182) - Light Brown, Olive Brown.
  • 0250 R.  (1921 - Sc. #183) - Dull Violet.
  • 0300 R.  (1921 - Sc. #184) - Green.
  • 0500 R.  (1921 - Sc. #185) - Blue.
  • 1000 R.  (1921 - Sc. #186) - Carmine.

The catalog attributes, for stamps printed on pelure paper, are as follows:

  • 0020 R.  (1921 - Sc. #180a) - Blue.
  • 0100 R.  (1921 - Sc. #181a) - Orange.
  • 0250 R.  (1921 - Sc. #183a) - Dull Violet.
  • 0300 R.  (1921 - Sc. #184a) - Green.
  • 1000 R.  (1921 - Sc. #186c) - Carmine.

The catalog attributes, for stamps printed on chalky paper, are as follows:

  • 0250 R.  (1921 - Sc. #183b) - Dull Violet.
  • 1000 R.  (1921 - Sc. #186a) - Carmine.

The catalog attributes, for stamps printed on thick paper, are as follows:

  • 1000 R.  (1921 - Sc. #186b) - Carmine.



The forty Ruble denomination definitive Soviet Russia stamp shown above was issued in August 1921.  The stamp is engraved on paper with the lozenges watermark, and it is imperforate.

The design features an allegorical representation of "New Russia Triumphant".

The catalog attributes are as follows:

  • 0040 R.  (1921 - Sc. #187) - Slate.

This stamp comes in two types, with the first type being about 1 mm. narrower than the second type.



The three commemorative Soviet Russia stamps shown above were issued during 1921 to celebrate the 4th Anniversary of the October Revolution.

The central design features an oval portal with a star shining at the top and the Cyrillic letters for RSFSR in the middle.

The catalog attributes are as follows:

  • 0100 R.  (1921 - Sc. #188) - Orange.
  • 0250 R.  (1921 - Sc. #189) - Dull Violet.
  • 1000 R.  (1921 - Sc. #1890) - Carmine Rose.


A 200 Ruble denomination, in brown, was printed, but it was never officially issued.  An example is shown above.  They are available in the philatelic marketplace, and they are relatively inexpensive. 



By February 1922, the economic hyperinflation in the RSFSR was starting to become very serious.  The situation required that earlier definitive Soviet Russia stamp issues be surcharged with new values in black.  They are all shown above.

The catalog attributes are as follows:

  • 05000 R. on 01 R.  (1922 - Sc. #191) - Orange.
  • 05000 R. on 02 R.  (1922 - Sc. #192) - Light Brown.
  • 05000 R. on 05 R.  (1922 - Sc. #193) - Ultramarine.
  • 05000 R. on 20 R.  (1922 - Sc. #194) - Blue.
  • 10000 R. on 40 R.  (1922 - Sc. #195) - Slate.



The same group of definitive Soviet Russia stamps was also surcharged in red, as shown above.

The catalog attributes are as follows:

  • 05000 R. on 01 R.  (1922 - Sc. #196) - Orange.
  • 05000 R. on 02 R.  (1922 - Sc. #197) - Light Brown.
  • 05000 R. on 05 R.  (1922 - Sc. #198) - Ultramarine.
  • 05000 R. on 20 R.  (1922 - Sc. #199) - Blue.
  • 10000 R. on 40 R.  (1922 - Sc. #200) - Slate.



The five very high denomination definitive Soviet Russia stamps shown above were also issued during the hyperinflation of 1922.

The design of the new 5,000 R., 10,000 R., and 22,500 R. denominations features the allegorical representation of "Workers of the World Unite".

The catalog attributes are as follows

  • 05000 R.  (1922 - Sc. #202) - Dark Violet.
  • 07500 R.  (1922 - Sc. #203) - Blue.
  • 07500 R.  (1922 - Sc. #205) - Blue on Buff.
  • 10000 R.  (1922 - Sc. #204) - Blue.
  • 22500 R.  (1922 - Sc. #206) - Dark Violet on Buff.





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Soviet Russia - Issues of 1918-1922






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During 1922, the 250 R. denomination stamp shown above (Sc. #201) was re-valued to 7,500 R.



During November 1922, the 250 R. denomination stamp shown above (Sc. #210) was re-valued to 100,000 R.

Fortunately, right after the issue of this stamp, the Russian Ruble was re-valued, bringing the hyperinflation to an end.  Subsequent issues reverted to  much smaller denominations.




For anyone seriously considering specializing in the stamps of Russia or the Stamps of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, a specialized catalog is required.


The Zagorsky catalog is the specialty catalog for Russian philately, and the more recent editions are published in English!  Click on the picture above for a link to ordering information on the Zagorsky website. 

These catalogs are also frequently available on eBay.  Here's a link to the proper eBay category.