The first stamp of Russia was to have been perforated but due to problems with building the perforating machinery the imperforated sheets of 10k blue and brown stamps had to be distributed in early December in time for the official day of issue on 1 January 1858. Although not an error the reasons behind Russia’s first stamp being imperforate are not the same as seen in other countries. Problems in manufacturing postmark devises also meant that many of these first stamps were cancelled by a penned cross, the technique already employed on postal stationery envelope impressions.
The perforating apparatus now working the full perforated set of 10k, 20k & 30k was issued during January and February 1858. The small size but colourful ‘Arms’ definitive stamps gave way after the Russian Socialist Federal Soviet Republic was proclaimed to much surcharging and overprinting due to the upheavals of revolution and civil war. After 1923 and the founding of the U.S.S.R. there were many more pictorial issues and the uplifting patriotic images were welcomed by stamp collectors at home and abroad bringing in much needed currency, the local philatelists often obtaining the used examples at reasonable prices.
The Russian Civil War period during 1918-20 gave stamp collections another interesting area with the various armies and regional governments issuing unique and overprinted issues including the Refugee Post of General Wrangle. Russian stamps and postal history is amongst the most popular in the world, many books on the postmarks, proofs, essays, errors and varieties have been written and excellent listings of the stamps, we would recommend the Stanley Gibbons catalogue, also catalogues by Michel, Scott and for Russian readers (translated) The Specialized catalogue of Russian Empire, RSFSR, USSR: 1857 – 1940 by Alexander Zverev (prices in US Dollars)