Building up a Stamp Collection
Collect Soviet Space Postmarks
Building up a stamp collection on Spaceflight of Russia always offered a specific challenge for stamp collectors outside Socialist countries. While stamp issues and First Day Covers were available for almost all parts of Soviet spaceflights through the State Agency of USSR, mailed covers of Soviet space sites do almost not exist.
Thanks to information received by an East German collector, some advice might lead to success in receiving real mailed covers from Russia.
What Covers and Postage should one use?
Covers in Soviet size (or stationery) will do as will normal U.S. size covers. Send to the relevant Post Office. Equivalent postage must be applied. Sea mail letters are Approximately) 50 kopeks, Air mail letters are 70 kopek.
Registered letters are charged with an extra 150 kopeks. All these for letters up to 20 grams, heavier envelopes are a lot more expensive.
How many Covers can one send?
Never send more than 5 covers, to any site. The more covers you send, the less chance they return. For 1 to 2 covers, you almost always have a chance. It’s getting harder with 3 covers and it is useless to send 5 covers. Do not send covers asking the clerk to cancel them for different dates (as for launch, docking and landing). They will — if not returned — always come back cancelled the same day.
If you want different events, you must send a request for each date. You have to indicate your specific wish before sending it:
(a) a launch cancel (specify mission no.).
(b) docking of a Soyuz—capsule with ISS space station.
(c) means landing landing postmark.
(d) any other special postmark you might wish.
What are my chances of getting Covers back cancelled?
Do not expect results as in the U.S. Trying to obtain real mailed covers from Russia you will understand why Russian roulette is called Russian roulette: only 20% of the covers to Cosmodrome Baikonur came back with the date and cachet requested.
30% of the requests will be forwarded to Star City and return 1 or 2 years later with special postmarks and autographs. And half of the requests return as “addressee unknown”. So one’s got to be patient, but waiting is worth it.
Could you imagine getting only 3 (and not 30) percent of your covers sent to KSC signed by the whole crew? Well, it’s worth it.
Some more figures: Results are almost 100% positive when a special postmark independent of a mission is wanted (as for April 12th – Day of Cosmonautics or October 4th for the Anniversary of space era). International Flights with the participation of a foreign cosmonaut have a success of 80 — 9o% approx. and are often cancelled with a specific cachet.
Manned soviet flights run from 0 — 30% of success rate. Other launches rate with 10%. And only Progress unmanned transporters are not worth trying. Results: Nil.
Jurgen Peters Esders