Chapter 2.
Tiflis mail of the 19th century.

City post of Tiflis.

Since 1845, the work of the Tiflis province post office became more active. So, in 1845 the office postage fees amounted to 40016 rubles, in 1846 — 40552 rubles, and in 1847 — 46751 rubles. However, despite the increase in the time allotted to get cash-mail packages, letters and parcels, many customers still remained dissatisfied.

In the report to the vicegerent, the manager of the Post Office in the Caucasus I.I.Nazarov reported on January 13, 1848: “Some of the correspondents, losing patience in the queue waiting to register their letters and parcels in the declared book, have to return back very unhappy still keeping them and are forced to send them taking a convenient opportunity of sending, what makes the state treasury suffers damages”. [32]

There came a need to establish in Tiflis a city post office to help the provincial post office, as it was already made in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kiev and Odessa. By decree of the vicegerent such post office was temporary established as an experiment. The official announcement about it was published on March 11, 1848 in the newspaper “Transcaucasian Vestnik”, and then on March 13 of the same year in the newspaper “Caucasus”. City Post Office was located on Zion Street in the house of D. Tamamshev and started to work since 15 March, 1848.

Michael Lermontov. Tiflis. 1837.

Michael Lermontov. Tiflis. 1837.

Due to the decree of M.S.Vorontsov three people were temporarily sent to this office from the state provincial office: the sorter, the stationmaster and the postman. To hire and to maintain the building for the new branch, the same order allocated 500 rubles in silver from post office revenues.

The rules approved by the vicegerent for the city post office, provided the reception of only one private correspondence in the form of simple, insurance and money (up to 1500 rubles in silver) letters. [33] All the official correspondence, private parcels, as well as overseas and money (more than 1,500 silver rubles) letters were still received in the provincial post office. There was nothing said in the Rules about city letters. On the stamp of the new Division was depicted Russian coat of arms at the top, and under it there were the words: “Tiflis, a special department”.

All these activities were carried out without the assistance of the state treasury only because before that, on December 28, 1847, according to the position of the Caucasian Committee confirmed by “His Majesty” Tiflis provincial post office was promoted up to the first class with an increase in staff to 31 people on account of adding postmen, sorters and forwarding agents. [34]

The six-month work of the city post office in Tbilisi had confirmed the practicability of its opening. The revenue of the office had increased. It was considered necessary to keep it constantly and confirm a special staff for it. On December 4, 1848, the vicegerent in the Caucasus addressed with such a proposal to the Supreme Commander over the Postal Department, who supported him and made a proposal to the Caucasian Committee on February 8, 1849. On July 12th the position of the Caucasian Committee was approved by the Tsar. And since that hour the city post office in Tiflis had become a permanent institution with a staff of three people: the acceptance inspector, the sorter and the watchman. [35]

Cancelation of Tiflis.

Date-stamp 1853.

Date-stamp 1853.

Another measure that facilitated the work of the Tiflis province post office was a proposal of the provincial postmaster N.K.Kridener to use stamp envelopes for simple private letters. From the report of I.I.Nazorov, which was submitted to Vorontsov on January 13, 1848, it is known that the provincial office was going to make envelopes on the plain paper without a watermark with stamps in 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 lots. The cost of the envelope which was one kopeck was introduced as an extra in the price indicated on the stamp. [36] On January 24 of the same year, M.S.Vorontsov approved the project to use stamp envelopes in the Tiflis province post office.

It was supposed that the letters in the stamp envelopes would be accepted only in Tiflis post office, but they would be sent both inside the province and outside the Transcaucasian region. Since the rules of the application of these envelopes addressed the interests of the Russian Post Office, M.S.Vorontsov immediately after their approval notified Caucasian Committee and the Chief Head of the Postal Department V.F.Adlerberg about this innovation. Exactly the same envelopes were sent to both addresses. [37]

Almost simultaneously with the approval of Tiflis envelopes in the Caucasus by the vicegerent (24 January 1848), Tsar Nicholas I (January 26) approved the proposal of the State Council on issuing national envelopes. When the Earl M.S.Vorontsov sent the proposal to introduce envelopes in Tiflis post office to the Postal Department, he did not know what was happening in St. Petersburg. But this time the offer of the vicegerent was not accepted.

Answering him (February 13, 1848) and submitting his opinion to the Caucasian Committee (17 February), the Chief Head of the Postal Department V.F.Adlerberg reacted negatively to the application of the envelopes sent from Tiflis. He justified this by saying that the paper for the envelopes was to be used only with water marks to prevent counterfeiting.

Tiflis. Georgian Military Road. Golovinsky Avenue and overclocking mail.

Tiflis. Georgian Military Road. Golovinsky Avenue and overclocking mail.

Regarding the appearance of the stamps on the envelopes, V.F.Adlerberg noted that the pattern was a failure, and even at all “unacceptable”, as it looked like a sign of surcharge. In addition, the officials of post offices in the central provinces of Russia who did not have any information about Tiflis envelopes because of their appearance would require the recipient of letters “to pay a fee shown on the stamp, because it was approved, as seen from the sample delivered.., by the signature of the provincial postmaster, is from this kind of purpose to the collection of weight of money, like the port offered for letters abroad”. [38]

In conclusion V.F.Adlerberg insisted on termination of the production of Tiflis envelopes and their destruction, and recommended to use in the Caucasus and in Transcaucasia, as well as in the rest of Russia, general state envelopes. V.F.Adlerberg’s arguments were convincing. The vicegerent agreed with his arguments to stop the production of the envelopes in Tiflis. On March 5, 1848 the vicegerent notified the Chief Head of the Postal Department of the termination of the envelope production. [39] The provincial postmaster N.K.Kridener was instructed to annihilate all previously made in the Tiflis province post office envelopes and relief printing.

There are known only sketches of the sample copies of envelopes with two types (type I and II) of stamps in five lots (signs of postage). [40] The envelopes with the stamp pattern of type I were first published in 1881by F.L.Breytfus in №220 Belgian magazine “Le Timbre Poste”. Two identical sample stamp envelopes got into his hands.

Type I.

Type I.

Type II.

Type II.

The envelope with the stamp type I was made on white paper with a brown tint with no watermark 0.12 mm thick and the size of 119x144 mm. The upper and lower flaps are sharp and side flaps are shapeless. The stamp, made by hand in black, is placed on in the upper right corner.

The drawing of the stamp consists of two concentric circles of diameter of 22 and 14 with the text “five 5. lots” between them. In the center of the inner circle there is a “51 k.” indicating postal value along with the value of the envelope. In addition, on the front side of the envelope, there are two notes: the first — “Tiflis province Postmaster Kridener” (written in black ink); the second (in black pencil) — “The assumption about the introduction of these envelopes according to these samples for sending simple letters from Tiflis is approved by the vicegerent on January 24, 1848”. Below: “In 1,2,3,4,5 lots + 1 kopeck for the envelope...”

On the back side of an envelope, on the left flap there is a colorless embossed oval seal of Tiflis post office with the size of 21x23.5 mm with the note under it in black ink: “Official seal of Provincial Postmaster”. On the top flap there is a print calendar stamp in black: “ТИФЛИСЪ ОТП 12 ГЕНВ 1848”, enclosed in a rectangular frame 52x15 mm.

The description of the envelope with the stamp of type II was first given by K.K.Shmidt in the German magazine “Die Ganzsache” and later in 1929 in “Soviet collector” journal number 1–3. He wrote that only one copy of the envelope of type II had been found.

The envelope with a stamp of type II is also made of white paper without watermark 0.12 mm thick and the size of 114x133 mm. The drawing of the stamp is black, made also by hand, placed in the upper right corner, and also consists of two concentric circles with a diameter of 215 and 16.5 mm. In the center between them there is also the same text as in the envelope type I, but by a different font. On the front of the envelope of type II there is the same note as that of the envelope type I: “Tiflis province Postmaster Kridener.” On the back there is also a raised printing of official stamp with the words underneath and date stamp. But instead of the date “12 ГЕНВ 1848”, there is the date “22 ГЕНВ 184”, and the last digit of the year is missing.

Thus, stamp envelopes prepared by the Tiflis province postal office, had never arrived in the postal circulation. Instead, as on the whole territory of Russia, in Tiflis there appeared stamp envelopes of the nationwide sample issued by the Postal Department into circulation at the end of 1848.

The introduction of stamp envelopes, as well as the completion of military forces in connection with the intensification of military operations conducted by the tsarist government in the Transcaucasian region, gave a rapid rise to the number of private letters and state-owned packages over the next decade.

However, within the same period there were no significant transformations of the postal department in the Transcaucasian region, except for renaming of XII postal district. By the decree to the Senate on January 23, 1853, it became known as the Caucasus and Transcaucasus postal district, and one of the board members of the Main Directorate of the Transcaucasian region became known as the Manager of postal district in the Caucasus and the Caucasus.

On July 22, 1856, as mentioned earlier, Prince A.I.Baryatinsky was appointed the vicegerent of the Caucasus. When appointing him to the post, Alexander II gave him broad authorities in managing the region, which were given to Vorontsov before. In addition to it, the warm personal relationship of the new vicegerent with the Emperor gave him additional opportunities for any fundamental reforms on the territory entrusted to him.

Having starting the reforms of the postal department in the province, A.I.Baryatinsky relieved a board member of the Main Directorate of the Transcaucasian region from managing a postal department in the Caucasus and beyond the Caucasus. This was due to the fact that the stations serving the postal rush in the province were in extremely poor condition, especially in Tiflis province. Therefore, it expected to pass them, as previously written, to the jurisdiction of the local Post Office.

On April 10, 1857, as mentioned above, the vicegerent appointed a temporary manager of postal district in the Caucasus and beyond the Caucasus Nikolai Semenovich Kakhanov, who started his duties very energetically. His activity in the initial period was so fruitful that A.I.Baryatinsky, appealing to the Caucasian Committee with a petition to keep N.S.Kakhanov on this post for the future, in a letter dated August 29, 1857 he reported: “being provided with all necessary methods [Kakhanov] can lead a section entrusted to him to the desired improvement in a short period of time”. [41]

Open in Tiflis since 1848 the city post office could not yet send the correspondence from one part of city to another. By the mid-50s with the growth of Tiflis, as a cultural and educational center of the Transcaucasian region, there came a need to have a branch in the city, which would carry out the functions of the city post office. Therefore, the first activity of N.S.Kakhanov aimed at improving postal service of citizens, was to establish a city post on the basis of existing there city postal department.

Within a short period of time there had been prepared “Rules for the city post office in Tiflis and delivery magazines and newspapers home&rldquo;, which were approved by the vicegerent on June 14, 1857. And since June 20 the city post office started to operate in the city and since July 15 it started to operate between Tiflis and Kojori (summer mountainous residence of the vicegerent of the Caucasus). At the same time special postage stamps issued in the printing house of the vicegerent were introduced in the circulation.

“The rules” allowed sending by post private letters and official simple letters and packages, as well as business cards and invitations. Money and documents were not accepted to be processed by this post office.

The tariff for the Tiflis city post had been set as follows:

  • for each business card or invitation letter — 2 kopecks,
  • for each letter or package:
    a). Inside the city — 5 kopecks.
    b). From Tiflis to Kojori or back — 15 kopecks.

Due to difficult road conditions in the mountainous area between Tiflis and Kojori the tariff to send letters and packages as once the tariff for the correspondence sent from Tiflis to Mozdok, was determined to be rather high, despite the fact that this place was only 12 verst’s from Tiflis. Apparently, when calculating the tariff for sending letters, to the cost of non-resident letter (10 kopecks) shipping within the city cost was added (5 kopecks).

The tariff for the business cards and invitations was reduced, but at the same time the speed of delivery of those things had been reduced. The correspondent had to take them to the post office two days before mailing. According to the rules letters and packages were to be delivered either the same day or the next, depending on the time the correspondent sent them. If the latter wanted a business card or an invitation card to be delivered in the same terms as the letters, he had to pay for them using the tariff for letters.

Post bags 2nd half of the 19th century.

Post bags 2nd half of the 19th century.

To pay for the letters and packages special 6-kopeck stamps were introduced, they were then called “paper stamp seals having properties of the cachet”. To send the letter inside the city was required to stick one stamp (“Stamp seal”), and to send the letter in Kojori (or vice versa) — three stamps. Paid in stamps (“Stamp seals”) letters and packages were either brought to the post office or dropped into the letter boxes installed for this purpose in various parts of the city and in the place of Kojori. Invitation cards and business cards should have been brought only to city post office; they were to be recorded in special registers and paid in cash. In the “Rules”, unfortunately, nothing was said about the process of paying off the stamps.

It took N.S.Kakhanov only two months to organize the work of the city post office. If we consider that during the same time the postage stamps were made, it becomes clear how much energy he had applied to implement this innovation.

Further reforms of the postal service in the Transcaucasian region happened on August 24, 1863, when on the basis of the approved regulation the postal district in the Caucasus and beyond the Caucasus was called Caucasian postal district. [42] N.S.Kakhanov was appointed the manager of the Postal District. According to the regulations the provincial post offices are converted into postal head-offices. There had been established four such post head-offices: Tiflis, Baku, Stavropol and Ekaterinodar. Each post head-office was divided into a number of expeditions.

The staff of Tiflis post head office increased to 60 people (including 28 postmen). Tiflis post head-office supervised 11 district post offices, 8 post departments and 59 postal stations with the station keepers. These transformations in the Caucasus postal district entered into force on 1 December 1863. [43]

It is important to note that the transformation of postal section made in the Transcaucasian region, had been carried out much earlier there than in the rest of Russia. Therefore, it is not surprising that the first stamp had been issued in Tiflis the six months before it appeared in Russia. In Russia, a similar transformation of postal services was held only in 1867 on the basis of the opinion of the State Council approved by Alexander II on June 27. According to it, the country introduced the central and local postal head-offices.

Then following the reform in the Russia, there came new reforms in the Caucasus that were the sections of general changes in the management of the Caucasus and the Transcaucasian region, aimed at the rapid convergence of life of the region with the life of the other parts of Russia. They were held, taking into account the local conditions, which were stipulated by the historical development and the nature of the region. According to the new changes in the postal departments of the Transcaucasian region, the number of personnel in all post offices were set in line with the structure of the Russian state post offices and put into effect on 1 January 1868.

In the following decade there were no any special changes in Tiflis postal department. But the constant growth of correspondence made the Directorate open a second post office in Tiflis city on 4 July 1879. It could be understood from the announcement of the Tiflis Post Office, published on July 6, 1879 in the newspaper “Caucasus”, and then on July 8 of that year in the newspaper “Tiflis bulletin”. The post office was located in Mikhailovskaya Street at building 105. The second post office was supposed to receive private registered and ordinary items, as well as securities and cash packets up to 1500 rubles. It was the last event, the vicegerent carried out to improve the city postal service in Tiflis.

The new Tsar Alexander III believed that it was time to finally make the Caucasus analogous in terms of management internal region of Russia. Therefore, in 1881, he abolished the position of vicegerent of the Caucasus, and instead assigned a Supreme commander of the civilian part of the region, who temporarily keeps the authorities of the vicegerent.

On January 29, 1882 by the decree to the Senate Caucasian Committee was also abolished. Finally, on April 26 in 1883, the decree to the Senate “On the transformation of the management of the Caucasus and the Transcaucasian region”, was approved, which abolished all previously established at the vicegerent institutions supposed to manage the region. A new management with a staff of 57 people had been established, headed by the Supreme Commander of the civil section, which was deprived of absolute power in the region and whose rights were equal to the rights of the governors-general. All departmental administrative and public institutions that did not belong to the local government again were transferred under jurisdiction of the Ministry. The Supreme commander retained only the right of supervision over their activities in the region. These changes were to be completed by July 1, 1883.

Thus, the postal Caucasian District, which had been about 40 years in complete subjection to the vicegerent of the Caucasus, came again at the disposal of the Postal Department on July 1, 1883. Now, with all the changes and reforms in the postal district, the Chief of the District had to approach the Minister of Internal Affairs, to which at that time Postal Department had to report.

Further reforms of the post service in the Caucasus entirely depended on the reorganization, which was held by the Post Office in all Russia (for example, the merger of postal and telegraph offices, and so on).

Caucasian Calendar. Office of vicegerent in the Caucasus Journal, 1857. It was published by order of the Tiflis stamp.

Caucasian Calendar. Office of vicegerent in the Caucasus Journal, 1857.
It was published by order of the Tiflis stamp.

Caucasian Calendar. Office of vicegerent in the Caucasus Journal, 1857. It was published by order of the Tiflis stamp.

Caucasian Calendar. Office of vicegerent in the Caucasus Journal, 1857.
It was published by order of the Tiflis stamp.

Caucasian Calendar. Office of vicegerent in the Caucasus Journal, 1857. It was published by order of the Tiflis stamp.

Caucasian Calendar. Office of vicegerent in the Caucasus Journal, 1857.
It was published by order of the Tiflis stamp.

Caucasian Calendar. Office of vicegerent in the Caucasus Journal, 1857. It was published by order of the Tiflis stamp.

Caucasian Calendar. Office of vicegerent in the Caucasus Journal, 1857.
It was published by order of the Tiflis stamp.


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