Jump to content


Photo
- - - - -

The Russian Postal Service Circa 1835

Gaslight

  • Please log in to reply
7 replies to this topic

#1 deuce

deuce

    Lesser Servitor

  • Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,075 posts
  • LocationSerpent-haunted Ehssi-Keh, beside the Lake of the Mound

Posted 16 September 2016 - 09:24 PM

I'm not really finding much out there. I'm specifically looking for details of the state of the Russian post between St. Petersburg and Irkutsk during the years 1837-1839, but I'll appreciate any and all factoids sent my way. Details of all kinds would be great. You never know what little datum might spark something cool.  :D




Log in to remove this video.

#2 yronimoswhateley

yronimoswhateley

    Lesser Servitor

  • Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,164 posts
  • LocationDunwich, Maryland

Posted 17 September 2016 - 12:40 AM

You might have already checked Wikipedia, but just in case, there is some useful information there (link):

 

  • 1837-1839 would have been the era of the Imperial Post, a Russian Imperial state monopoly. 
  • ==============================1700s-early 1830s
  • Moscow and (especially) Saint Petersburg seem to have been the heart of Imperial Russian mail service, with the first general post offices being opened in these cities in 1714; in these early days, it served for delivery of government papers and ordinances.  Typical mail of this era would have been a roll of pages sealed with a wax or lead stamped seal.
  • Private parcels were added to service by the 1730s and 1740s; delivery would have been by courier in these early days.
  • Russian mail post-marks (rubber stamp marks indicating the date and time that mail was accepted by the post office) would appear in the 1760's; the earliest version was a single line reading "ST. PETERSBOVRG" in Latin letters at the earliest (presumably it got more elaborate over time).
  • By 1781, money could be delivered by post.
  • Post coaches (wagons) appeared in 1820.
  • In 1832, a Russian diplomat Pavel Schilling in Saint Petersburg develops an early Telegraph system, using an early binary code; his device transmitted from one room of his apartment to another.
  • ==============================1830s-1840s
  • In 1833, the general post was expanded into a city post with 17 city districts, and 42 correspondence offices located in trade stores, and this was soon expanded again in 1834 with over a hundred reception offices in St. Petersburg suburbs and more in other areas.
  • In 1838, the post started delivering printed periodical magazines and newspapers.
  • ==============================1840s-1917
  • In 1840, the Dept. of Coaches and T-Carts was created, adding a variety of mail delivery carts (from light carriages, to medium Coaches, to heavy T-carts) to service to move varying amounts of mail from one location to another.
  • In 1845, the first Postal Stationery was issued, with pre-stamped envelopes issued in 1848; by this time, the postal fee for a typical letter was 5-kopecks.   The first pre-paid postage stamps would not be issued until 1857.
  • In 1848, the first official mail drop-boxes appeared alongside postal stationery and stamped envelopes; the general mailboxes were green; orange "same day" service boxes located near rail stations joined them in 1857.
  • In 1852, the first Telegraph office is established in Moscow, next to the Moscow post office.
  • In 1864, the Rural Post ("Zemstvo", after the rural, local administrative districts created that year by Imperial government reform) was added to service, with local pre-paid postage stamps issued over the next year or so.  This service was legally separate from the Imperial Post, and was not allowed to use the emblems of the Imperial Post.  By 1892, every rural district had its Zemstvo post, but not all issued stamps and some handled mail "free" (supported with taxes?)
  • The 1865-1867 Western-Union Russian-American Telegraph expedition, intended to connect California and Russian America to Russia and the rest of Europe via telegraph through the Bering Straight, fails under economic pressures and the surprising hostility of the Russian and Russian American climates, becoming obsolete before it could be completed, due to the completion of the (competing, longer, but more practical) trans-Atlantic telegraph line.  However, one of the earliest communications sent through a completed American section of the Russian-American telegraph was news of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln's 1865 assassination.  This expedition has nevertheless since been considered a "successful failure" because of the many economic benefits to remote local regions that the expedition opened up, such as building roads and bridges and other infrastructure, and exploration and surveys of previously little-known territory.
  • By 1874, the Russian Post helped found the Universal Postal Union, allowing streamlined international mailing.
  • ==============================1917:  Twilight of the Imperial Post
  • In 1917, the Russian Imperial Post system would be dismantled and heavily reorganized with the Russian Revolution.

 

 

To put it another way, 1837-1839 would have been before the age of official mailboxes, postage stamps, pre-paid envelopes, and even a well-organized equivalent of "mail trucks", and rural areas would have been out of mail service, and probably relied instead on potentially unreliable or even corrupt local private couriers.  A Russian developed one of the earliest telegraph systems within this date range and it must have been a marvel for all who saw its use demonstrated, but a practical application would not see use until a couple decades later; I couldn't really find much information on how the Telegraph and Post interacted in Russia beginning in the 1850s, but one would assume there would have been a close relationship, if for no other reason than the fact that these important forms of communication were located next door to each other.

 

However, the 1830s would have seen an exciting new expansion of the Russian Imperial Post in Russia's major cities, allowing the people of especially Saint Petersburg and Moscow unprecedented access to post service.  One could imagine that, in an era when private mail was still something of a novelty for most Russians, and before the invention of "junk mail", getting a letter by Imperial Post must have been quite a novelty.

 

It seems that for 1837-1839, a Russian in Saint Petersburg or Moscow would normally bring mail to a district or reception postal officer stationed at a local general store, pay 5 kopecks, and the officer would rubber-stamp a postmark on the envelope, drop it into whatever the Russians used equivalent to mail bags, and this mail would regularly be transferred to a wagon, transferred to a central Post Office for distribution, be placed on another wagon, delivered to a destination district office, to wait for a recipient to stop by and ask for it.  (This seems to be roughly similar to my understanding of rural American post offices in roughly the same era.)

 

The bit about the Russian-American Telegraph expedition is sort of a bizarre, fairly unrelated footnote to the history of the Post, but in skimming that article I found a number of details from its article very suggestive of a potentially fantastic background and setting for some Gaslight-era Call of Cthulhu adventuring in the brutal and remote Alaskan and Siberian wildernesses:  the exploration of strange new country, the discovery of previously unknown indigenous peoples, the fiercely cold and hostile environment, the pressures to complete a vastly expensive but doomed project before a deadline that could never be met, the catastrophic failures the project met at every turn, the footprints of modern civilization being left scattered and abandoned through unexplored primordial landscapes....

 

Anyway, I hope I might have dug up at least one or two details you haven't seen yet.  Good luck - "Gaslight" era Russia sounds like a fascinating time and place in history!


Edited by yronimoswhateley, 17 September 2016 - 12:52 AM.

"I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time." - Blaise Pascal


#3 rylehNC

rylehNC

    Lesser Servitor

  • Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,870 posts

Posted 17 September 2016 - 07:48 PM

It's certainly possible that the post would travel a good deal by river as well. I found this book on Google with some information:

 

The GH Kaestlin Collection of Imperial Russian and Zemstvo Stamps
Happy is the tomb where no wizard hath lain, and happy the town at night whose wizards are all ashes.

-Ibn Schacabao

#4 wombat1

wombat1

    Lesser Servitor

  • Old Patron
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,886 posts

Posted 18 September 2016 - 05:00 PM

Here is a scenario right here:

 

In 1832, a Russian diplomat Pavel Schilling in Saint Petersburg develops an early Telegraph system, using an early binary code; his device transmitted from one room of his apartment to another.

 

What did he find in his diplomatic travels, and what was in the other room of that apartment that needed to be signaled by a binary code telegraph?



#5 deuce

deuce

    Lesser Servitor

  • Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,075 posts
  • LocationSerpent-haunted Ehssi-Keh, beside the Lake of the Mound

Posted 19 September 2016 - 07:29 PM

You might have already checked Wikipedia, but just in case, there is some useful information there (link):

 

  • 1837-1839 would have been the era of the Imperial Post, a Russian Imperial state monopoly. 
  • ==============================1700s-early 1830s
  • Moscow and (especially) Saint Petersburg seem to have been the heart of Imperial Russian mail service, with the first general post offices being opened in these cities in 1714; in these early days, it served for delivery of government papers and ordinances.  Typical mail of this era would have been a roll of pages sealed with a wax or lead stamped seal.
  • Private parcels were added to service by the 1730s and 1740s; delivery would have been by courier in these early days.
  • Russian mail post-marks (rubber stamp marks indicating the date and time that mail was accepted by the post office) would appear in the 1760's; the earliest version was a single line reading "ST. PETERSBOVRG" in Latin letters at the earliest (presumably it got more elaborate over time).
  • By 1781, money could be delivered by post.
  • Post coaches (wagons) appeared in 1820.
  • In 1832, a Russian diplomat Pavel Schilling in Saint Petersburg develops an early Telegraph system, using an early binary code; his device transmitted from one room of his apartment to another.
  • ==============================1830s-1840s
  • In 1833, the general post was expanded into a city post with 17 city districts, and 42 correspondence offices located in trade stores, and this was soon expanded again in 1834 with over a hundred reception offices in St. Petersburg suburbs and more in other areas.
  • In 1838, the post started delivering printed periodical magazines and newspapers.
  • ==============================1840s-1917
  • In 1840, the Dept. of Coaches and T-Carts was created, adding a variety of mail delivery carts (from light carriages, to medium Coaches, to heavy T-carts) to service to move varying amounts of mail from one location to another.
  • In 1845, the first Postal Stationery was issued, with pre-stamped envelopes issued in 1848; by this time, the postal fee for a typical letter was 5-kopecks.   The first pre-paid postage stamps would not be issued until 1857.
  • In 1848, the first official mail drop-boxes appeared alongside postal stationery and stamped envelopes; the general mailboxes were green; orange "same day" service boxes located near rail stations joined them in 1857.
  • In 1852, the first Telegraph office is established in Moscow, next to the Moscow post office.
  • In 1864, the Rural Post ("Zemstvo", after the rural, local administrative districts created that year by Imperial government reform) was added to service, with local pre-paid postage stamps issued over the next year or so.  This service was legally separate from the Imperial Post, and was not allowed to use the emblems of the Imperial Post.  By 1892, every rural district had its Zemstvo post, but not all issued stamps and some handled mail "free" (supported with taxes?)
  • The 1865-1867 Western-Union Russian-American Telegraph expedition, intended to connect California and Russian America to Russia and the rest of Europe via telegraph through the Bering Straight, fails under economic pressures and the surprising hostility of the Russian and Russian American climates, becoming obsolete before it could be completed, due to the completion of the (competing, longer, but more practical) trans-Atlantic telegraph line.  However, one of the earliest communications sent through a completed American section of the Russian-American telegraph was news of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln's 1865 assassination.  This expedition has nevertheless since been considered a "successful failure" because of the many economic benefits to remote local regions that the expedition opened up, such as building roads and bridges and other infrastructure, and exploration and surveys of previously little-known territory.
  • By 1874, the Russian Post helped found the Universal Postal Union, allowing streamlined international mailing.
  • ==============================1917:  Twilight of the Imperial Post
  • In 1917, the Russian Imperial Post system would be dismantled and heavily reorganized with the Russian Revolution.

 

 

To put it another way, 1837-1839 would have been before the age of official mailboxes, postage stamps, pre-paid envelopes, and even a well-organized equivalent of "mail trucks", and rural areas would have been out of mail service, and probably relied instead on potentially unreliable or even corrupt local private couriers.  A Russian developed one of the earliest telegraph systems within this date range and it must have been a marvel for all who saw its use demonstrated, but a practical application would not see use until a couple decades later; I couldn't really find much information on how the Telegraph and Post interacted in Russia beginning in the 1850s, but one would assume there would have been a close relationship, if for no other reason than the fact that these important forms of communication were located next door to each other.

 

However, the 1830s would have seen an exciting new expansion of the Russian Imperial Post in Russia's major cities, allowing the people of especially Saint Petersburg and Moscow unprecedented access to post service.  One could imagine that, in an era when private mail was still something of a novelty for most Russians, and before the invention of "junk mail", getting a letter by Imperial Post must have been quite a novelty.

 

It seems that for 1837-1839, a Russian in Saint Petersburg or Moscow would normally bring mail to a district or reception postal officer stationed at a local general store, pay 5 kopecks, and the officer would rubber-stamp a postmark on the envelope, drop it into whatever the Russians used equivalent to mail bags, and this mail would regularly be transferred to a wagon, transferred to a central Post Office for distribution, be placed on another wagon, delivered to a destination district office, to wait for a recipient to stop by and ask for it.  (This seems to be roughly similar to my understanding of rural American post offices in roughly the same era.)

 

The bit about the Russian-American Telegraph expedition is sort of a bizarre, fairly unrelated footnote to the history of the Post, but in skimming that article I found a number of details from its article very suggestive of a potentially fantastic background and setting for some Gaslight-era Call of Cthulhu adventuring in the brutal and remote Alaskan and Siberian wildernesses:  the exploration of strange new country, the discovery of previously unknown indigenous peoples, the fiercely cold and hostile environment, the pressures to complete a vastly expensive but doomed project before a deadline that could never be met, the catastrophic failures the project met at every turn, the footprints of modern civilization being left scattered and abandoned through unexplored primordial landscapes....

 

Anyway, I hope I might have dug up at least one or two details you haven't seen yet.  Good luck - "Gaslight" era Russia sounds like a fascinating time and place in history!

 

Yronimos, a big "thank you" to you and everyone else that provided tips!  It appears, as I suspected, that getting letters back to civilization from eastern Russia wasn't easy during that decade.

 

Yes, with paranoid, expansionist Nicholai I, the Third Section, wild Cossacks and the proximity to the eldritch horrors of Inner Asia, there is plenty to work with.



#6 yronimoswhateley

yronimoswhateley

    Lesser Servitor

  • Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,164 posts
  • LocationDunwich, Maryland

Posted 19 September 2016 - 09:13 PM

You're quite welcome!

 

I visited the U.S. Postal Museum with my brother earlier this year - the impression I got from it then was a formal public postal system as we know it today was largely a product of the Victorian era, especially Victorian England.  Before that, it hadn't changed very much from ancient traditions of trusting a messenger or courier who happens to be going your message's way to pass your message along for you, and, if you're rich and powerful enough, having servants or officers or court officials whose jobs were to deliver your message for you.  The history of Russia's postal system seems to back that impression up.

 

Between your description of the era, and what I saw of the Russian-American Telegraph expedition and Wombat's take on that early telegraph invention, I'm really wishing I had a chance now to give a try to a couple scenarios in this setting....


"I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time." - Blaise Pascal


#7 rylehNC

rylehNC

    Lesser Servitor

  • Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,870 posts

Posted 20 September 2016 - 11:30 AM

Dead Souls is a good setup for something nefarious.


Happy is the tomb where no wizard hath lain, and happy the town at night whose wizards are all ashes.

-Ibn Schacabao

#8 cjbowser

cjbowser

    Lesser Servitor

  • Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,709 posts

Posted 21 September 2016 - 03:34 PM

Here's a tidbit that might help spark some ideas...

 

Russians (even up until WWII) frequently didn't use envelopes when sending mail. They'd write the letter and then fold the paper origami like so that the address was visible on the outside but the contents were only visible once the letter was "opened."

 

If i remember later, I'll post a picture of a couple of the ones I have.


Current projects: Time of Troubles | The Caliphate Caper






Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Gaslight