Today in Postal History

South Russia to Denmark

June 30, 1917

In February, 1917 Russia took the first step in their
revolution by installing a liberal Provisional Government.
This followed widespread protests over the lack of food and Russian involvement in World War I.
This was followed by the abdication of Czar Nicholas II on March 2.

Unrest continued as anarchists and Bolsheviks pressured the Provisional Government.
This led to the second phase of the revolution in October when the Bolsheviks seized power.

Many parts of Imperial Russia began to heed their regional interests as opposed to national interests.
Subsequently many regions (e.g. Finland, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia)
used the opportunity of the continuing revolution to break away.
Others tried but ultimately failed.
Such efforts led to a bloody civil war.

Southern Russia, bordering on the Caspian and Black Seas,
was among the areas opposed to the Bolsheviks.

At the time this letter was sent, the southern area had not yet broken away from the Provisional Government.

After the Bolsheviks seized power in October and demanded obedience
to their government, the Cossacks in the southern provinces defied them.
This led to the initial skirmishes of the Civil War in December, 1917.

Several groups were involved in the opposition.
Ultimately South Russia had a provisional government led by
General Denikin in 1918 in opposition to the Bolsheviks.
By January 1919 General Deniken's government included most of the opposition groups.

This registered Cover (badly torn in opening) was sent from Rostov-on-Don.
There are two Rostov-on-Don CDS.
The cover was sent to the Moscovian Helpcommittee for Prisoners of War on June 30, 1917 (Julian).

The boxed scarlet registration handstamp in Russian was used in error.
 International mail required a registration stamp in French.

There is a two-line violet censor's marking -
"Examined by military censorship R-on-D  |  Military Censor No. 1".

The cover's arrival was noted by a Copenhagen receiving CDS, August 2, 1917 (Gregorian).
The Russian postal system lost half its workforce to the army
during the war while the number of offices was doubled.
This labor shortage resulted in errors as a result of inexperience.
The wrong registration handstamp error on this cover is typical for Rostov.

The cover is franked with the last stamp issued in 1917 before the Provisional Government issues.

You can learn more about the issues of the several provisional governments here.
It was a 20k surcharge on a 14k blue and rose coat of arms (Scott 118).
The rate was determined by the weight pencilled just above the stamp in Russian:  "4 gr[ams]."

*I am indebted to Bill Wagner who supplied not only this
interesting cover but most of the information I've related here.
Any errors, however, are mine.
I've checked what I can and would appreciate any additions or corrections.


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