Sunday, July 22, 2012

Converting Julian calendar dates to Gregorian calendar dates




10 Oct 1884

2 Oct 1884



This five-centime gray 1st Allegory issue postal card, used at the UPU printed matter rate to St. Petersburg, Russia, appears to have been postmarked at Luxembourg-Ville, 10 Oct 1884, and received eight days earlier, on 2 Oct 1884 in St. Petersburg.  Absent error, how would this be possible?

The explanation is simple.  Luxembourg adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1582, but Russia did not convert from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar until 1918. 

In Russia, the Gregorian calendar was not accepted until shortly after the October Revolution (so named because it took place in October 1917 in the Julian calendar). On 24 January 1918, the Council of People's Commissars decreed that Wednesday, 31 January 1918, was to be followed by Thursday, 14 February 1918, thus dropping 13 days from the calendar. Therefore, the 2 Oct 1884 postmark date on this card must be converted from Julian to Gregorian calendar days.

The following helpful conversion information can be found at the Wikipedia entry for the “Gregorian calendar.”

Gregorian range

Julian range


From 12 March 1800
to 12 March 1900

From 29 February 1800
to 28 February 1900

+ 12 days

From 13 March 1900
to 13 March 2100

From 29 February 1900
to 28 February 2100

+ 13 days

Using this information, we see that the Julian calendar arrival date of 2 Oct 1884 converts to 14 Oct 1884 on the Gregorian calendar, which is consistent with the timeframe we would expect for delivery of printed matter from Luxembourg to Russia in 1884.

Oh, and the printed back of the card provides a special treat.  It contains Alph. Brück’s “spottbillig” [read in English: very cheap] wholesale prices for Luxembourg stamps and postal cards as of
9 Oct 1884!


I’d like to place an order today, but I notice that the special prices ended on 25 October 1884! 



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