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Posted Feb 14, 19 12:47 by Roger Heath (decoppet)


I have finally found the location and owner of the land associated with Rocht (Rohu), Estonia. It was a knight manor in Simuna Parish, Virumaa County. Rohu (Rocht) is a small settlement with a population of 55, no manor house seems to exist today. The estate was owned by Woldemar Alexander Michael Baron Hoyningen, born 20 September 1854. This estate was located 38km south of Rakvere where the letter was posted.

The aristocracy and industrial age financiers were a demographic the Hotel Schweizerhof courted. It makes sense to me that a registered letter from Estonia to the hotel most likely included important papers confirming a stay at the hotel. I have other covers with seals and return addresses of influential people who stayed at the hotel.

Thank you for all your input as it helped me focus on the origin of the cover. My four frame exhibit is nearly complete - Reflecting the Rise of Tourism During the Belle Epoque Hotel Schweizerhof, Luzern: 1870-1914 - first showing will be PIPEX.


Posted Feb 14, 19 10:23 by george dekornfeld (docgfd)


Although no one questions my guess about the purpose of the perfins more than me, I think it is worth mentioning that the vapors used for disinfection had a much better chance of permeating an envelope's contents as the number of entry points increased. For example, an 1896 Russian law mandated steam sterilization for all incoming mail from areas affected by the plague. It would seem it would be way easier to treat an envelope with a bunch of holes, perhaps even allowing bulk disinfection of multiple unit, than one with just a clipped corner.

That said, in 1893 an International Sanitary Commission determined that since cholera was water-borne, mail no longer needed to be treated for that particular malady. Roger's 1894 cover sits right on the edge of that determination, although mail continued to be treated for cholera for a time out of fear of the disease.

Posted Feb 14, 19 1:27 by A. Lavar Taylor (lavart1)


Reverse of Ropit letter card shown below.


Posted Feb 14, 19 1:26 by A. Lavar Taylor (lavart1)



I just happen to be looking at a recently acquited Ropit item. The scan below shows the front of a Ropit letter card sent from Jaffa to German East Africa in 1898. There is a message written inside.  I have never seen another Ropit item sent to any German colony.


Posted Feb 14, 19 0:41 by steven frumkin (sfrumkin)


The ROCHT spelling of the perforated initials on this cover reminded me of ROPIT, a convenient transliteration of the abbreviation of the Russian-language spelling for the Russian Steam Navigation and Trading Company, (1856-1918) whose Russian five letters appear in postmarks on mail carried by that company. It's been about 40 years since I last handled any of these so-called Ropit covers, but Wikipedia states that all Russian post offices in the Ottoman Empire were operated by the 'RSNTC' from 1863-1914.

I wonder if ROCHT is nothing more than an abbreviation for some company or agency, run solely or jointly with the Imperial Russian government or at least authorized by them.

When it comes to disinfected mail, I seem to recall that centuries ago, it was normal to cut a slit in the cover and 'pour' the 'disinfectant' throught there into the cover. But by the 1890s, cutting a small piece of each of the cover's four corners was the normal procedure for disinfected mail.

Over the years, I've frequently encountered covers whose corner tips had been cut off. Such items often have a 'Fumigated' notation in pencil accompanied by an arrow pointing to one of these clipped corners.

Large-size perforated initials are frequently seen on Russian stamps of this period, notably 'Obrasetz' ('Specimen') perfins. Perfined envelopes would have been a novel and eye-catching way for the sender to have the addressee remember its name, and might well have been cheaper to produce than printing an inscription on the front, especially if the company or agency had several offices.

In my main areas of interest, I've regularly discovered previously unrecorded many varieties of stamps and covers. Actually, these were not discoveries; these items had been out there all along, but unrecognized for what they were. So I'm no stranger to the process of having to explain what such an item is, how it occurred, and why it's important. Kind of a philatelic version of Trust But Verify. It is the responsibility of the 'discoverer' to try to convince.

The 'Rocht' perforated word, initials, or whatever consists of a total of 61 holes. One would not need anywhere near that many to use for disinfection. It's easy to imagine how this would be an inefficient way to disinfect. Wouldn't some of the disinfectant material shoot out of the cover as it's applied?

Consider the possibility that we're looking for a narrative to fit a preordained result.

Posted Feb 13, 19 23:26 by A. Lavar Taylor (lavart1)

Be Sure to Check the back of the card - part deux

The back of the card shows a receiving mark from Zanzibar dated Jan. 26, 1890, and shows that the message on the back of the card was written in Argostoli, Greece, in late November, 1889.   Thus, this item did go through the mails, even though it was not postmarked at the location at which it was mailed.

So let's go back and read the front of the card again.  It is addressed to the Zahlmeister (paymaster) on board the SMS Sperber.  The Sperber was in East Africa at the time to assist with the establishment of the German protectorate that became German East Africa.  Mail connected with the German warships in East Africa at this time is highly collectible. This is probably the only item of incoming mail to the Sperber while in East Africa at this time. I am aware of only one other item of mail incoming to any German warship in this area at this time from anywhere other than Germany -- an item I acquired at a European auction.  The item shown here was a lucky find.


Posted Feb 13, 19 23:14 by A. Lavar Taylor (lavart1)

Check the back of the card

Be sure to check the back of the card.  Below is a scan of the front of a postal card from Greece. There is no cancel, so at first blush, it appears to be a card that never went through the postal system, making the writing on the front of the card of little or no importance.


Posted Feb 13, 19 14:42 by Louis Fiset (louisfiset)

French rates

Thanks to Bernard and Steve for where to look for French postal rates.

Posted Feb 13, 19 14:36 by William T. Crowe (wtcrowe)

Baronial Size Entires


A quick glance at the 20th Century UPSS catalogue shows that unless your entires are some special or rare watermark they are valued at prices similar to other entires for the issue.

Posted Feb 13, 19 14:05 by Steve Walske (steve w)

Chauvet & Brun

Just domestic, I believe. But, they do completely cover prisoner and military mail.

Posted Feb 13, 19 12:10 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

Chauvet and Brun

Steve -- does that book include international rates?

Posted Feb 13, 19 12:08 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

First turbojet letter

   Gee, I didn't think there was significant turbojet intercity capablility at least til the Heinkel 280 in 1941 or 1942.
   I liek the corner card on that letter.  Carl Dienstbach was deep in the early airplane milieu.  He wrote an unpublished history of the era, another manuscript that would be nice to see published.  He was a real insider.

Posted Feb 13, 19 11:16 by Richard Frajola (frajola)

Not a Russian Name

I do not have an answer but I eliminated the possibility of it being a Russian sender's control because there is no "H" in Russian. It maybe is a German sender in Russia though.

Posted Feb 13, 19 11:15 by Steve Walske (steve w)

French Rates


The reference that you need is Chauvet & Brun, "Introduction a l'Histoire Postale de 1848 a 1878" published by Brun in 2007.

Posted Feb 13, 19 7:56 by steven frumkin (sfrumkin)



Don't come to any conclusions yet.

I want to post a few comments later which might be of some use.

Posted Feb 13, 19 6:56 by Ken Lawrence (kenlawrence)

Orville Wright letter

The letter is here.


Posted Feb 13, 19 0:33 by Roger Heath (decoppet)


Thank you for everyone's input. I'm going with a company name, especially since the basic envelope is postal stationery, therefore, susceptible to unauthorized employee use.

Edit - I found a baronial manor house at a location called Rohu, which is another name for Rocht. It is located 38km from Rakvere where the letter entered the postal system. Whomever was living there would have been a suitable guest for the Hotel Schweizerhof. The family originated in Sweden 2 centuries earlier.

Posted Feb 12, 19 22:01 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

Orville Wright

Gee, Ken, I thought you might have something to say about the first turbojet powered mail. I wonder if there were covers other than the Orville letter.  I have not tried to locate it in the online archive.

Posted Feb 12, 19 21:25 by Lawrence Gregg (ecovers)


Verified by my neighbor who is German, Rocht is a name.

Posted Feb 12, 19 21:07 by David Handelman (davidh)


It is also possible that Rocht is the name of the sender, a company, which perforated the reverse of the cover only, in advance.

Posted Feb 12, 19 19:02 by george dekornfeld (docgfd)


'Riech' is the root for smell in German as in riechen (v.) for smelling.

Given the pandemic, I'm wondering if the better word association here would be with 'Rauch,' as in 'smoke.' Could it be the holes in the envelope allowed for some sort of attempt at disinfection of the envelope, using a gas or smoke?

Posted Feb 12, 19 16:02 by Roger Heath (decoppet)


Thanks Richard - that's what I found as far as the definition. I came to a dead end until I discovered cholera was in pandemic stage in 1894, and wonder if this might have been official, or maybe just a personal perfin, since it seems it could only be done with the envelope unsealed. Since it's registered, maybe it was unsealed so the clerk could see the contents. then perfed, then sealed?

Posted Feb 12, 19 15:05 by Stephen Tedesco (steddy)

Card Proofs

I’m looking to purchase the 1870 distribution envelopes for the cardboard plate proof printings. Send a scan off board. Thank you

Posted Feb 12, 19 14:22 by Richard Frajola (frajola)


Roger - I do not know but the word is related to a German word that means "smell" according to a few links found via Google

here then link to > here

Posted Feb 12, 19 14:13 by Roger Heath (decoppet)

cholera 1894 St Petersburg ?

12 January 1894 [24 January Gregorian] from Wesenberg [modern Rakvere, Estonia] Russia. Received Luzern 28 January.
Domestic postal stationary uprated as registered letter, 10 kopeks postage plus 10 kopeks registration.

Unusual perfin holes in envelope flap - ROCHT

See scan. I have mirrored the back to make it easier to understand the perfin in the flap.

I'm wondering if this has anything to do with the cholera epidemic that was in St Petersburg during most of 1894? This letter most likely transited St Petersburg. Other Baltic ports also had incidences of cholera.


Posted Feb 12, 19 13:47 by Richard Frajola (frajola)

Counter-intuitive definition

That definition of "origin" was widely promulgated by Dick Graham. It has meaning only to "insiders" for letters and covers that entered the government mails.

The word should really be avoided completely unless defined at each point of use.

Posted Feb 12, 19 13:22 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

Hudson River letters -- intermediate town origin markings

    I have started looking at the Ryterband exhibit.  He has gone for the informational, rather than minimalist, approach to exhibiting.  The pages are very impressive and obviously involve considerable postal history research and then effort in layout.
   One thing that puzzles me:   There are quite rare covers from intermediate towns on the Hudson that show origin indicated so that the initial receiving office would know how to rate the cover (for distance).   In the case at hand it is stated the dock agent was responsible for the Newburgh manuscript.   This interesting idea had never occurred to me -- I always assumed it was someone shipboard (Purser? -- if there was one.)  I wonder what the basis for this ascription is?
    An allied question is whether the intermediate towns had drop boxes for steamboat mail.  If so, that might argue, on practical grounds, that the marking was handled on board.   Further, the exhibited letter states that the gangplank is being pulled up (ain't that a grand touch?) which leaves little time for dockside intervention, but leaves room for onboard marking.
   I use origin here to mean the point of transfer to the boat, rather than the office where the letter was first processed for the mails (or local delivery), which by somewhat confusing postal history practice is termed (office of) origin.

Posted Feb 12, 19 12:45 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

French rates

I think there is a book by Alexandre.  In French, of course.  It is hard to find, but you can probably borrow it from the APRL by mail

Posted Feb 12, 19 12:38 by Louis Fiset (louisfiset)

Pre 1849 French Postal Rates

I'm assembling an exhibit on 19th century prisoners mail (military, civilian) from French wars and insurrections up through the Franco-Prussian War. I can handle the postal history aspects of POW mail, but the postal rates have me flummoxed.

Can someone point me in the direction of an available source for pre-1849 French postal rates? Thanks.

Posted Feb 12, 19 11:56 by Richard Frajola (frajola)

Fire on the Water Exhibit

I just uploaded an important 8 frame exhibit of New York state steamboat mails from Dan Ryterband. A direct link is here. Thanks!

It is also linked from the exhibits page above.

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