• I wish to thank Richard Gilbreath, director of the Gyula Pauer Cartographic Laboratory in the Department of Geography at the University of Kentucky, for preparing the graphics and Natasha Tyutenkova for her valued assistance in understanding many of the messages on Russian stamps.


Previous studies of postage stamps noted their importance in promoting national identity and the objectives of the state. Neglected in this literature by geographers and others is a discussion of stamp themes and issues during political and economic transitions. A content analysis of issues during the Soviet Union's last three years and Russia's first three years revealed some significant changes. The Soviet Union issued many stamps and sets on a wide variety of topics, including nature, folk items and legends, international ties, and ideology. Russia issued fewer stamps: Nature was important, but religion and issues that promoted Russia's heritage replaced ideology and international themes. Early Russian stamps evoked an “inward” worldview that promoted a nascent nationalism. In its final years the Soviet Union noted evidence of these changes in priorities and themes with issues that depicted Soviet environmental disasters or honored the individuals killed in the failed Russian coup attempt in August 1991.