While working on the Transcaucasian Star Overprints (used almost exclusively in Azerbaijan) I found a scan of this Money Transfer Form ex B. Taylor collection.
This item is extremely rare and interesting for the following reasons:
- Latest documented use of Star Overprints. Ceresa assumes because of the remote location new stamps did not arrive yet.
- Shusha is one of the larger cities in the region that now is part of Nagorno-Karabakh (nowadays de-facto under Armenian rule).
- Nikolaevka is probably only a small village. The location of which is unknown.
- A rather high amount – it is inflation time, but in comparison to other money transfers.
- Franking with perforated 1 Ruble stamps with Armenian large framed Z.
Addressed to Shusha, the item bears the cancel of Shusha Elisavetpol.
It was sent from Nikolaevka Elisavetpol.
Ashford describes Nikolaevka as village with postal sub-office. Apparently he had never seen the cancel himself and references Voikhansky:
Nikolaevka was a village lying remotely in Shusha Uezd, beyond Agdam. The P.O. was opened sometime after 1893. No datestamp can be illustrated, though E. S. Voikhansky lists a double circle datestamp (serial “a”) used on stamps of Azerbaijan. This could have been in use pre-1918.
Ceresa shows another late used item with Nikolaevka cancel in his books and also refers to this Ashford text.
Voikhansky just lists the cancle in a table of stamps used 1919-1923 as Nikolaevka Elisav. “a” double circle (18mm, 28mm) in black and in yellow-black ink.
I tried to find the village on old maps but without success (e.g. Zsarist maps of 1905 and also later ones). There are also no references on the internet etc. Ashford shows the location on his hand-drawn map, but there is nothing on the the geographical maps I referred to. The name Nikolaevsk may have been given to a settlement where Russian settlers lived (Zsar name). Or an already existent village was renamed and later this was changed back to the former name.
The only Nikolaevka I could find is a village near Shemakha. Source Wikipedia.
İkinci Cabanı (known as Nikolayevka and Dzerjinovka until 1999) is a village and municipality in the Shamakhi Rayon of Azerbaijan. It has a population of 834. The municipality consists of the villages of İkinci Cabanı and Cabanı.
There is also a reference in a Wikipedia Article about Russians in Azerbaijan.
In the mid-1830s ethnic Russians from the governorates of Tambov, Voronezh, and Samara began to arrive in the Shamakhy and Shusha uyezds, establishing the settlements of Vel, Privolnoye, Prishib, Nikolaevka, and İvanovka.
While it is possible that Ashford made a mistake locating this village, the problem remains that the cancel reads “Elisavetpol Gubernia”. And the Nikolaevka near Shemakha is in the “Baku Gubernia”.
This is a real riddle. I hope some of my readers can help.
PS: And here comes the help from Arkady Sarkisya (see comment). Thank you very much, this is just great! I would never have found this alone.
The Nikolaevka postal sub-office is located in a Russian village in Shusha Uezd on the main road from Karyagino (Karyagin Uezd) in the South towards Terter in the North (Djevahshir Uezd) through Agdam on the former Imperial postal route Karyagino-Nikolaevka-Khonashen-Kotlyarovka-Agdam-Terter.
Nikolaevka is located approximately at a distance of 33 km from Shusha to the East, almost equidistant from Karyagino and Agdam at a distance of about 28 km
I tried to mark it on this map section from a Russian map issued in St. Petersburg in 1909. You can see roads and postal office marked!
I found Karyagino in the South following the road north then Shusha, Agdam and Terter. But I can not see a road from Shusha to the east and also if I draw a line from Karyagino to Agdam I go through Shusha rather then being east of it. Where did I go wrong? And were is Khonashen and Kotlyarovka?
Here is an overview of the area nowadays done in google maps. 22 km east of Shusha, directly would be over steep hills, but anyways not on the road to Agdam or Karyagino.
The Karyagino I found near Tatev is most likely the problem. Here is another map section showing a route from Uezd south of Shusha and Agdam, passing west of Shusha. This relates to the distance of the 28-30 km east of Shusha and Ashford draws Karagino north of Vank.
Update: The riddle is solved. A reader sent me this map picture where Nikolaevkoe can be seen east of Shusha. Very nice!