A is for Aden and Z is for Zanzabar

A is for Aden and Z is for Zanzibar... Now what is between? For the world wide classical era philatelist and stamp collector, a country specific philatelic survey is offered by the blog author, Jim Jackson, with two albums: Big Blue, aka Scott International Part 1 (checklists available), and Deep Blue, aka William Steiner's Stamp Album Web PDF pages. In addition, "Bud" offers commentary and a look at his completely filled Big Blue. Interested? So into the Blues...

Friday, April 15, 2022

North Ingermanland - Bud's Big Blue


North Ingria Republic coat of arms

Bud's Big Blue
Bud's Observations

The largest country in the world, Russia, has a long history of troubling its neighbors. As I begin writing this post, Russia’s bombs are falling on Ukraine, although their ill-prepared ground troops appear to be floundering. Optimism about negotiations is fading.

I’m struck by the similarities between Russian atrocities in Ukraine and those that Bolsheviks heaped on Ingria a century ago.  

Ingrian Russia and the North Ingria Republic (1)

The Ingrian Finns did not want to be Russian but, in 1919, they found themselves under Bolshevik control. A few Lutheran farmers in a northern tip of Ingria, about 60 kilometers from St. Petersburg (see map), managed to secede and form a republic. It lasted less than two years. They hoped to join Finland, but it never happened. The Treaty of Tartu between Finland and Russia (1920) ended that dream and, in the following decades, a genocidal nightmare ensued. There were approximately 130,000 Ingrian Finns in 1919; today they number fewer than 21,000 (2).

The short-lived republic did, however, leave a philatelic record. Big Blue provides spaces for nine of their 14 stamps under the heading “North Ingermanland”, a Swedish designation for the territory. They also created other legitimizing marks for their breakaway state -- coat of arms (above), flag, anthem, army, navy, military uniform, military awards, legal court, and newspaper (3). Kirjasalo, in 1919 a village of fewer than 500 residents, now abandoned, served as the capital.

North Ingria military medal

The coat of arms and the military award bear the same design as the first North Ingria Republic stamps, which have a striking similarity to the first stamps of the Finnish Republic.

Finland Scott #s 99 violet and 102 red orange, 
North Ingermanland Scott #s 3 bister and 5 carmine and black

Vignettes on higher value stamps depict everyday country life – plowing, reaping, sowing seeds, milking a cow, playing zithers.

Scott #s 9, 10, and 11

Interestingly, the 5 Markka stamp shows a church with a toppling steeple. I cannot find a record of the specific church tragedy, but surviving descendants of the Inger Finns recall churches being destroyed by the Soviets and priests being imprisoned and executed (4).

Scott #13 dark violet and dull rose

Legitimate postmarks are scarce and many of those found in today’s market were struck as CTOs after the North Ingria Republic ceased to exist. The one in my collection appears to be on a genuine stamp, but I’m unsure whether it’s a CTO or not. The Kirjasalo cancel is dated 17 September, 1920, about a month before the Treaty of Tartu was signed.

Kirjasalo cancel on Scott #13

Forgeries, of course, abound. Jim offers some clues for detection (here), the easiest of which is the genuine cream-colored paper as opposed to white. Forgers, despite their chicanery, have helped keep the memory of the North Ingria Republic alive.

As I wrote this post, a plan for a small tribute to North Ingrian survivors occurred to me. I decided to buy a few stamps from a dealer in Kyiv, even as the bombs were dropping. I found the dealer thanks to an online auction and sent the payment after I received her invoice. Ukraine Post provides excellent tracking service and apparently my stamps safely are on their way. One of those I bought shows the Russian warship Aurora being attacked, so it seems, by a Ukrainian Trident. It’s a Russian stamp overprinted in Kyiv when Ukraine broke away from Russia (1992). The Aurora, now a naval museum, is permanently docked at St. Petersburg in what was formerly North Ingria.

Russia Scott #5724 (1988) 
with Kyiv local overprint (1992), the Cruiser Aurora

Census: nine in BB spaces, seven on supplement page including three fakes.

1) Map salvaged from Gerben Van Gelder’s now sadly defunct "stamp world history" web site

Jim's Observations

Thanks Bud for your thoughtful idea of purchasing stamps from a dealer in Kyiv. 

Regarding the uprising, the reality was the only area the Regiment controlled in Russia was Kirjasalo, and the "Kirjasalo Post Office" was actually located in an office room of the railroad station at Rautu, just across the Finnish border!

For more on forgeries, see my blog post link below.

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Comments appreciated


  1. Fr. Bud and Jim,

    Very interesting similarities to current events and Kyiv local overprint is particularly striking. Well done gents!

  2. I had no idea when I wrote this post that it would be predictive of the Moskva's fate.

  3. Great detective work! I love how you piece things together to tell a narrative story and how appropriate for today! Thanks so much for sharing!

  4. Every stamp has a story. Sometimes it's spoken softly and difficult to hear. Sometimes it fades into the distant past or gets lost altogether. Sometimes, as with the North Ingria Republic stamps, it shouts.