ZEMSTVO MAIL IN ESTONIA?

(Reprint of an article by Elmar Ojaste in Eesti Filatelist #38, 2001)

It is generally known that zemstvo (self-government) mail operated in Imperial Russia side by side with the State mail service. In 1874-1913 it functioned in the districts of Luga and Gdov of the government of St. Petersburg and in 1871-1913 in the Pskov district in the Pskov government, areas which later came to be incorporated into the Republic of Estonia.

Zemstvo mail may have been used in the following areas of Estonia:
Luga - in the Narve and Narva-Jõesuu communes (valds);
Gdov - in the Piiri and Raja communes and on the island of Piirissaar;
Pskov - in the Linnuse, Kalda, Lõuna, Mäe, Meremäe, Roodva, Petseri, Saatse, Senno, Järvesuu and Vilo communes, which later formed parts of the Republic of Estonia.

No zemstvo covers from those areas are known until now. Indirect proof is provided by the British Journal of Russian Philately No 85 - Autumn 2000, which features an article by Terry Page, "Used Zemstvo Postal Stationery: Pskov and Luga". The article brings illustrations of two zemstvo postal stationery items sent to addresses in Estonia:

1. Pskov.
A postal card 11/2 kop (1892) sent via the Pskov zemstvo mail. A 3-kopeck postage stamp is cancelled on the same day at the state Pskov post office and the postcard has arrived in Tallinn on 7 October.

2. Luga.
A stamped envelope 3 kop (1886). Registered and sent by zemstvo mail to the Bielaya post station where a 14-kopeck postage stamp has been cancelled on 19 December 1887. On the back is a transit stamp of Tallinn of 21 December 1887. The letter is addressed to the Keila (Kegel) railway station.