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Full of striking iconography and overt political messages, the stamps of Russia are a fascinating mirror into its past. The country’s philatelic history dates back to December 10, 1857 when the first 10 kopek stamp was issued for use throughout the Russian empire, as well as in Poland and Finland. These early stamps were initially printed on woven stock paper, though a special watermark was soon adopted to reduce the risk of forgery.

At the same time, Zemstvo stamps were used as local postage in rural areas. An estimated 3,000 Zemstvo stamps have been catalogued, though many suspect that number is far from complete. The use of Zemstvo stamps continued until the 1917 Revolution, but it has only been in recent years that they have begun to find a place in prominent Russian stamp collections.

Russia’s Postage System During the Revolution

The revolutionary period was one of upheaval for Russia’s postage system. Between March and November of 1917, breakaway factions of the Russian Empire, including Azerbaijan, Belarus, Latvia, Lithuania and others, began issuing their own stamps. For many, this independence was short-lived and the production of stamps was more for symbolic or propaganda purposes than actual use.

Soviet-Era Stamps

Following the Tsar’s abdication, the newly unified Soviet States were occupied by a long civil war and an intensive restructuring of their internal economy. The period that follows is one of the richest in all of philatelic history, with the union issuing a series of Art Deco-inspired stamps. The stamps praised the virtues of cooperation, the bustle of the Soviet economy, and other aspirational scenes that were likely far removed from the reality of life for most citizens.

Ideological purity and the horrors of war were other commonly occurring themes. Even for those who aren’t students of history, these stamps hold great aesthetic interest thanks to their attractive design and striking colors.

Building a Russian Stamp Collection With Apfelbaum, Inc.

No matter what era or area of specialization in Russia’s philatelic history you’re interested in, Apfelbaum, Inc. can help you locate the hard-to-find issues you need to grow your collection. We hold public online auctions featuring issues from around the globe and also carry many rare Russian stamp collections in our online store. For information or assistance, contact our office today by phone or email.

Since 1910, Apfelbaum, Inc. has been a valuable resource for the global stamp collecting community. In addition to sales, we offer in-house appraisals and other services to both amateur and professional philatelists alike. Contact u