On December 22, 1857, the Russian Empire Postal Department issued a circular letter on the introduction of postage stamps for public use.
The first signs of postage were adopted in Russia in 1845 in the form of postal stationary envelopes for local mail in St. Petersburg and Moscow. The idea worked well, and was extended throughout Russia in 1848. However there was growing pressure to develop a better system of Russian postal stamps, based on different weights of a letter with different charges.
In 1851 the manager of the Postal Delivery by Railway, Aleksey Charukovsky, was sent abroad to study the postal delivery systems in Europe. After gathering a body of information, Charukovsky returned to Russia suggesting that issuing Russian postal stamps for the convenience of the population and the ultimate profit of the government was the way to proceed.
The final design for the first ever stamp was devised by the leading engraver Fedor Kepler which consisted of a medallion with the national emblem in the center and a mantle of the tsar with his crown on the top. The Post Office Emblem - two crossed horns - was printed under the Coat of Arms. Three different color combinations were chosen; brown with a blue center for 10 kopecks, blue with an orange center for 20 kopecks and carmine with a yellow-green center for 30 kopecks. The Tsar Alexander II approved all three priced versions and production began.
In order to protect the stamps from counterfeiting, it was made with a watermark. One specialist found a very original solution: figure “1” was used as the watermark on the first Russian stamps. It was possible to define that it was the very first Russian stamp just by having a look at it in the transmitted light. A layer of glue was applied to the paper before printing.
On the same day that the Postal Department announced the introduction of postage stamps as payment for private correspondence, they went on sale, quickly becoming available at all postal offices throughout the country. Officially, the stamps were not to be used until January 1, 1858.
The first stamps of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR) appeared in 1918 on the first anniversary on the October Revolution. These new stamps were meant to represent the liberation of the people from the shackles of tsarist and depicted a hand with a sword hewing a chain. These first revolutionary stamps cost 35 kopecks (blue) and 70 kopecks (brown). Only a few copies were released, because shortly a decree was passed that allowed for standard letters and cards to be sent free of charge at the government’s expense. This decree was valid until August 1921.
The first USSR stamps were released in August of 1923. They were devoted to the First All-Russian agricultural and handicraft industrial exhibition.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the first Russian Federation stamps were released in January, 1992. They were devoted to the Winter Olympics in Albertville.
All types of domestic postage payment – stamps, marked postal envelopes, cards and suchlike, are stored in The A.S. Popov Central Museum of Communications (founded in 1872 in St. Petersburg). Its stock is replenished yearly with modern editions of domestic and foreign postage stamps. Today the museum’s collection consists of around eight million samples.