Ukrainian Philatelist No. 124 (2020)
WHY ARE THERE SO MANY DIFFERENT PODILLA TRIDENTS?
Overprinting of Russian Imperial Arms stamps in Podillia during August–September 1918 relied on a large number of trident designs (Figure 1). Catalogs list 58 distinct types of tridents [1, 2]. The reason for having such a great variety is not known. This article offers an explanation to several parts of this question by comparing observations about overprinted stamps and historical documents from the period.
Early explanations for the large number of Podillia type tridents tied overprinted stamps to postmarks . It seems that stamps with particular trident overprints were found postally used in some towns but not in others. Since many different handstamps must have been used to overprint stamps—each with a single unique trident design—it was proposed that a number of towns in Podillia must have fabricated their own distinct handstamps.
Many stamps found postmarked at the province city (“hubernia city”) of Vinnytsia had Podillia type Ia tridents. Collectors referred to this trident type as the “Vinnytsia” trident. Podillia type Va tridents were considered to have originated at Proskuriv. Type XIVb tridents likely came from Balta, etc. (see [4, 13]). The accepted notion was that stamps overprinted with the various devices were likely released for use locally.
According to this explanation, a centralized overprinting effort similar to operations in Kyiv or other hubernia centers in Ukraine was apparently not feasible in Podillia. Likewise, a template illustrating the official trident design must have been unavailable at many post offices where handstamps for overprinting stamps were fabricated.
Western philatelic literature credits C. Svenson with pointing out Zhmerynka, a rail town of roughly 24,000 south of Vinnytsia, as the location where Podillia type tridents were applied to postage stamps . It had become apparent already by the mid 1920s that a consistent pattern of use for certain trident types could not be inferred from postmarks alone .
Zhmerynka was centrally located on the key Kyiv–Odesa rail line, with connections to the Mohyliv and Volochysk routes (Figure 2). It had a magnificent new rail station, opened in 1904—one of the largest in that part of Europe (Figures 3–4). The Zhmerynka postal-telegraph office was next door at rail-side—a location ideal for expeditious dispatch of mail and cargo (Figure 5). This was not the case for Vinnytsia, which was served by a rail station roughly 2.5 miles from town center. Kamianets, the administrative province center, was located at the end of a 60 mile spur originating at Proskuriv. While the central role of Zhmerynka in overprinting stamps seemed likely, some scenarios claimed that handstamps may have been fabricated in Zhmerynka, Kamianets or Vinnytsia but distributed to regional centers for local overprinting.
Hawryluk published a remarkable stemma (family tree) in 1992 linking together many of the different Podillia trident types . The tree was constructed from a list of stamp multiples on which at least two different trident types appear next to each other (Figure 6; also see Podolien-Mischaufdrucke in , p. 31). These unique blocks, strips and sheet remnants with mixed overprint types raised the possibility that handstamps carrying different trident types were likely used during an operation in a single location. Since the majority of the trident types or their epigones (see next section) fit into the stemma, then there must have been one location where all of them were used, and that was Zhmerynka.
As Communist party control over state archives in Ukraine began to decline during the late Glasnost years, curious philatelists were able to search collections for historical documents dating to the period of trident overprinting. They sought to reconstruct a past that official Soviet histories concealed from the public. Mohylny  and Ivakhno  were first to publish significant finds among which was the Ukrainian government circular from August 1918 authorizing the overprinting of stamps with tridents. The document spelled out the procedure how and who was to overprint stamps. Mohylny presented the version issued by the main postal administration in Kyiv. Ivakhno relied on the version issued by the Katerynoslav Postal District. Epstein published an English translation of the circular from the Odesa Postal District in the Ukrainian Philatelist .
Nykolskyi located the circular particular to Podillia. This version of the orders was distributed by the administrative center in Kamianets to regional post offices on August 14, 1918 . The archival information confirms Svenson’s inference about Zhmerynka being the location in Podillia where stamps were overprinted. However, the reason why so many different trident types were produced still remained unanswered.
A popular hypothesis articulated by V. Popov (a Kyiv philatelist from the 1920s) and referred to by Svenson  and others (see ) was that Podillia towns did not possess the means to fabricate any quantity of identical metal or rubber handstamps. Wood was used instead. But wooden stamping devices turned out to lack durability. They had to be discarded after a period of use and new ones fabricated as replacements. The design of the trident must have varied somewhat as newer handstamps were prepared. Hawryluk suggests that the change to a newer handstamp occurred even during the overprinting of the same stamp sheet—a sensible explanation why two trident types are found on the same stamp multiple times.
Collectors generally accept as fact that there are 58 types and sub-types of Podillia tridents and that many of these tridents share common design features (Figure 1). The similarities in trident designs sometimes complicate identifications of overprint types because one trident type may look just like several others.
Examples of this dilemma are Podillia trident types IIIa and XIb (Figure 7). They can be mistaken for each other because of their similar overall size and shapes . Podillia trident types Xa and XIIc also have a similar structure around their wing loops and base caps. These features also appear in Podillia types Xd and XIIa tridents (Figure 8), as well as in XIIcc and XIVa tridents (not shown). The existence of common design motifs among the 58 known trident types may not be entirely coincidental. It seems that workers who were engaged in handstamp fabrication may have carved tridents on the raised surface of stamping devices in particularly characteristic ways.
There is also general agreement about the visually inferior appearance of most overprints. This seems to be the case right from the start. Tridents on stamps overprinted and used in August 1918 look just as incomplete or poorly executed as would be expected of overprints prepared much later using worn handstamps (Figure 9).
Some handstamps were applied to a great many stamps and numerous different face values while others saw much less use. Foremost in usage was the device with the Podillia type Ia trident. Types Ib, VIIId, VIIIa, VIIIb, XIVb and XIId follow. It is possible these handstamps were more durable than others or that they were put into use rather early (see Table I). It also seems that the range of overprinted face values for any single trident type will include one or several overprinted values that are common and readily available, and other overprinted values that are scarce or rare. This is even true for the most abundant trident type Ia. The 70 kopek perforate stamp with this overprint is priced at 10 cents (Bulat #1389). The overprinted 14 kopek stamp is rare (Bulat #1382).
Black oil-based ink is the only overprint ink found on stamps with Podillia type tridents. The ink produced a reasonably consistent sheen across all trident types. It may appear granular sometimes. Of note is that Podillia post offices stocked a variety of inks for marking postal documents. Postmarks were usually applied with oil-based black or grayish ink. Some post offices used dark blue, green, brownish, purple or pale violet inks instead (Figure 10). These different inks do not appear on trident overprints. The bluish-black ink of Podillia type Ia reprints and violet “Popov type” trident are exceptions to be discussed separately.
Some fluorescence has been noted on stamps where oil from the overprint ink seeped through to the reverse , but signals are weak (Figure 11). Preliminary comparisons in UV light at 365 nm do not show qualitative differences in fluorescence between overprint types. X-ray fluorescence (XRF) analysis that detects metal ions in ink or paper (Si, S, Ca, Mn, Fe, Ni, Cu, Zn and Pb)  does not reveal possible qualitative differences between the ink of different trident types. Carbon and some sort of naturally occurring non-metal containing oil seem to be the only components in every overprint ink examined. These samples do not produce unique XRF signals (not shown).
A check of Seichter’s catalog shows that all of the Podillia type tridents on stamps are known to have been postally used, except for the scarce Podillia types XIc and XId, which are known only as mint stamps. (The Bulat catalog errs in its listing of #1859.)
The order of appearance for different trident types cannot be ascertained with certainty. At least 10 different Podillia trident overprint types were postally used and available at 11 different post offices already in August 1918 (Table I). The locations do not cluster in any single part of the hubernia.
Podillia trident type Ib, which is considered to come from a metal handstamp, is found on stamps at four different towns. Type VIIIb is encountered at two post offices. Types IXa and Xbb each show up twice in the count, but from the same post office. The remaining trident types—IIIa, VIIIa, VIIId, XIbb, XVb and XVId—are found on stamps used at different post offices.
Trident subtypes Xbb or XIbb would not be expected to appear among early use trident types because they are thought to be impressions made by worn handstamps. These overprints can be called epigones, i.e. overprints that resemble an original trident type but seem to have been produced from a handstamp that has lost a part of its original design or has accumulated a distinct and constant defect  (discussed in [15, 16]). It seems the Xbb and XIbb subtypes converted to epigones rather quickly, or they may not be epigones but overprints produced by unique handstamps with those designs.
By the end of September, 28 trident types are found postally used on different stamps—19 of them for the first time. The most prominent new addition is Podillia trident type Ia with 16 occurrences, the first one being in Vinnytsia on Sep. 5, 1918 (not shown).
Many of the remaining 30 trident types can be found on used stamps postmarked in October or November 1918. The exception may be the nearly dozen trident types that are known only on a single or very few face values and that are scarce as used stamps or rare (e.g., IIIbb, XIIbb, XIIIc, XIIIcc, etc.).
The above survey information comes from a pool of roughly 700 postal money transfer and parcel cards from Podillia and about 2,000 used stamps. The material comes from E. Vyrovyj’s large collection (as recorded in the Schaetzle auction catalog ) and my present collection. But this represents only a fraction of what circulated in Podillia during August–September 1918. Very common items may have not been preserved by collectors and may be underrepresented. Furthermore, not all postmarks are legible so some early use material may be missed. The interval between the time certain trident type handstamps were used to overprint stamps and the release of the overprinted stamps by post offices is not certain. More importantly, information from historical documents has not been considered. These sources are likely to provide some useful insights.
Every post office in the Imperial system kept a collection of regulations and notices it received from regional headquarters. Post offices also archived copies of reports they prepared on transactions. This was the practice during independence as well.
Judging from early 20th century directories of Podillia hubernia , roughly 1,500 hamlets, villages, towns and cities were served by a mix of slightly over 50 postal-telegraph facilities, 50 smaller post offices and 25 post office branches. By 1918, the number of postal facilities was greater (see below, Table II). So there must have been over a hundred sets of official postal regulations and notices preserved in multiple document collections from all over Podillia.
In surveying what Ukrainian state archives hold today, it’s clear that roughly a dozen collections survived. Most have gaps in coverage and only a few contain documents from 1917–19. The largest amount of material on Podillia postal practice is probably at the State Archive of Vinnytsia Oblast [Derzhavnyi arkhiv Vinnytskoi oblasti, DAVIO]. The archive’s online finding aid details these holdings .
Postal documents came to the Vinnytsia archive at different times by several routes. Some arrived in the early 1920s to the Podillia Hubernia Historical Archive because the material was not being used any longer by post offices. This archive is a forerunner of the present-day Vinnytsia oblast institution. Other Podillia documents were kept at the State Archive of Kyiv Oblast and classified “secret”—accessible only by KGB or high party officials. These documents were later transferred to Vinnytsia starting in the mid-1950s on orders of the Archival Directorate of the Interior Affairs Ministry of the Ukrainian SSR. Transfers continued up to roughly 1986.
It seems the “secret” designation prohibiting public access came about because some postal circulars from before the revolution instruct officials to confiscate correspondence of Lenin and other Bolshevik sympathizers, and also newspapers with Russian propaganda. The postal documents were finally declassified on September 30, 1988.
Some duplication of documents exists in surviving collections of materials from postal establishments. As mentioned earlier, administrative centers sent copies of circulars to multiple recipients. Nykolskyi published the text of the circular on the overprinting of stamps from the collection of the Voronovytsia postal-telegraph office . Voronovytsia is a town southeast of Vinnytsia in Bratslav county. The same circular can also be found in collections from other Podillia post offices as well. The circular from the collection of the Chernivtsi postal-telegraph office is illustrated in Figure 12 and used for the translation on the following page. Chernivtsi was a town of roughly 10,000 inhabitants situated northwest of Yampil, the regional center.
The Ukrainian word kontora is rendered as “office” in the translation and filii as “branches.” Text in square brackets is added for clarity. The middle paragraph is broken down by points for ease of reading. This part with instructions to Podillia post offices differs slightly from the text in circulars issued by other postal districts [8, 10].
Not every part of orders announced in circulars could be carried out in all postal districts. According to the August circular, the stamping device with the Ukrainian State crest for overprinting postage stamps was to look like the overprint on postal stationary cards (Figure 13), except that the frame and revaluation below the trident were to be omitted. This was not always the case, and not only for Podillia.
The order to uprate postal stationary cards came from Kyiv on June 26, 1918, several months before the order to overprint stamps. This decision was taken to conserve low face value stamps that would be needed on postcards to meet the new higher tariff just introduced. The order was restated by the Administration of Podillia Postal-Telegraph Facilities in Kamianets for all post offices under its jurisdiction . It says that the Zhmerynka post office is to overprint its postal stationary cards using a device that will be sent shortly. Zhmerynka is to record the revenue from uprating the cards it possesses from 5 kopeks to 10 (postal cards with 3 and 4 kopek franking were overprinted later) and supply uprated postal cards to post offices in Podillia. The post offices that receive uprated cards are to send their old inventory back to Zhmerynka for overprinting.
It is not known if the device used for overprinting postal stationary cards in Zhmerynka was fabricated in Kyiv or Kamianets. It appears to have had a sophisticated design that includes security features in the body of the trident similar to “microprinting” (Figure 14, at left). These fine details can be missed in overinked impressions.
As for overprinted stamps, Podillia followed the directive in the August circular and used a trident design that met the postal card specification, at least for trident types Ia and Ib (Figure 14, middle and right) and possibly Ic and IIIa. All other Podillia trident types do not adhere to the postal card trident design. This may have been acceptable practice under dire circumstances. The Kyiv III trident overprint design used in Kyiv looks just like the trident on Ministry of Finance stationary letterhead and not any of the Kyiv type postal card tridents (Figure 15). These tridents are taken from the state emblem adopted on March 22, 1918 by the Little Rada, as designed by Vasyl Krychevsky.
A noteworthy characteristic of all Podillia trident designs is that they do not have wing struts. The struts would connect the vertical wing and wing loop lines of the trident, as in the Kyiv type III trident. The omission of wing struts in every Podillia trident type is consistent with the design of the postcard trident, as specified in the August circular.
The August directive to Zhmerynka on stamp overprinting has three significant departures from the earlier June protocol for overprinting postal stationary cards. There is no mention of an overprinting device being delivered to Zhmerynka. Also, Zhmerynka is not to distribute overprinted stamps. Rather it is to immediately overprint its inventory of postage stamps and wait for other post offices to ship their stamps for overprinting. Lastly, Zhmerynka is to handle each incoming shipment of stamps individually and return exactly the same stamps it receives back to the original sender, except with overprints. In this sense, the August circular avoids much red tape in reconciling stamp inventories between post offices.
Several deductions can be made from the circular’s narrative. If the Zhmerynka postal-telegraph
office overprinted its stamps right away in August as instructed and before receiving stamp shipments from other post offices, then the trident overprints on stamps used at Zhmerynka will have come from early use handstamps.
It turns out that the Podillia type Ia trident is almost exclusively found on stamps used on parcel and postal money transfer cards and covers posted at Zhmerynka. There may be loose stamps with other Podillia trident overprint types that have a Zhmerynka postmark, but they are rarely found (Figure 16). In some cases the “Zhmerynka” postmark on such stamps may be forged (Figure 17).
The franking on postal documents and covers originating at Zhmerynka from 1919 and even 1920 is consistently made up of stamps with only the Podillia type Ia trident. This suggests that the original mix of trident types at post offices acquired during the August-September 1918 overprinting period probably did not change in later times. Exchanges of such stamp stocks between Podillia post offices or releases of new overprinted stamps with Podillia tridents probably did not occur.
The question of how many handstamps had the Podillia Ia trident design needs further study . There is no evidence for two or more single handstamps with the Podillia Ia trident being bound together into a device for overprinting several stamps at a time. A reasonable guess is that there may have been only one device because of security concerns. Overprinting stamps was a matter of financial consequence to the state and the process had to be closely supervised. But more research is needed on this point.
In being a rail town with train maintenance facilities, Zhmerynka could probably fabricate metal handstamps with trident designs. Podillia town directories from the period mention at least one metal fabrication shop operating in town . But if postal authorities were to prevent forgeries by keeping the trident design secret, then handstamp fabrication must have been tightly controlled. It was probably carried out in-house by trusted postal employees using the means and materials available in the post office.
The demand for additional handstamps surely surfaced when postage stamps from other post offices started to arrive in Zhmerynka. The turn-around time for overprinting a delivery of stamps was to be up to two weeks. Hawryluk suggests that a string of work tables were likely set up to handle the surge. Each might have used a set of several different handstamps.
Only regional postal-telegraph offices [Ukr. mistsevi kontory] were to send stamps to Zhmerynka for overprinting. The term “kontory” comes from the classification of postal establishments inherited from Imperial times. Large postal-telegraph offices (kontory) were at the top of the hierarchy. They were followed by smaller postal-telegraph stations and post office branches [Ukr. filii]. The smaller facilities depended on the postal-telegraph offices for stamps and probably for postal forms as well.
Postal-telegraph offices ranged in size and were assigned a rank according to their revenue and telegraph dispatch volume. A publication from 1912 describes six classes . Class I establishments were to have 120,000 rubles in revenue and handle 300,000 telegrams. The lowest class VI offices were expected to have revenue of 6,000 rubles and process 6,000 telegrams. Branches likely handled an even smaller turnover of money and stamps. The classification brackets were probably adjusted somewhat by 1918.
The postal-telegraph office in Kamianets was a class I facility, as were the offices in Vinnytsia, Mohyliv and maybe Balta. More research is needed to determine the classes of the other postal-telegraph offices in Podillia and how the hierarchical ordering functioned with respect to the movement of postage stamps to Zhmerynka for overprinting. Documents recording custody trails of stamp shipments to and from Zhmerynka may have been produced at some point. To date none have been found. How many postal-telegraph offices shipped stamps can only be estimated indirectly.
Documents recently uncovered in a state archive in Kyiv illustrate this point. One source is a projection of personnel needs at postal-telegraph and postal facilities in Podillia hubernia and Besarabia for 1919 (postmasters, assistants, other staff) . Information is listed by municipality classification and class of postal establishment. The number and type of postal facilities operating in 1918 can be deduced from the listing by assuming establishments had only one postmaster.
As shown in Table II, the Administration of Podillia Postal-Telegraph Facilities anticipated operating 98 postal-telegraph offices in 1919. Roughly two-thirds of them were class V or class VI facilities. The remainder were larger establishments. The Administration also oversaw 41 postal-telegraph branches and 46 post office branches. The total number of establishments comes to 185.
A different archival document from the 1st Department, 5th Section (Comptrollers Division) of the Ukrainian State entitled “Personnel Support for In Place Postal-Telegraph Establishments from January 1 to June 1, 1918” gives the number of facilities in Podillia hubernia as 171 and in Besarabia at 15—a total of 186 for the Administration . The discrepancy in the count may be tied to the opening (or re-opening) of a postal facility.
By relying on these two sources, it is fair to say that Zhmerynka probably received at least 97 shipments of stamps for overprinting from postal-telegraph establishments. Once supplied with overprinted stamps, the postal-telegraph offices were to provide overprinted stamps to roughly 41 postal-telegraph branches and 46 post office branches. These smaller facilities would not have to ship stamps to Zhmerynka.
Several cycles of stamps moving back and forth for overprinting between postal-telegraph offices and Zhmerynka (and branches to postal-telegraph offices) were probably necessary for the Administration’s stock of postage stamps to be overprinted. This process was to be completed by October 1918, i.e., within six weeks of the order issue date. (The original September deadline was extended.)
Documents authorizing the continuation of stamp overprinting later in 1918 in Podillia or during 1919 have not been located. In the Kyiv postal district, official late-period overprinting of minor quantities of stamps remaining at state institutions did occur, but rarely and only after receiving special permission from state agencies .
Overprinting of stamps held privately was not permitted. The prohibition and the absence of state authorization to renew overprinting virtually excludes Podillia Ia reprints and “Popov type” tridents from being official issues. Many of these reprints appear on stamps that were likely brought to the region in 1919 by invading Russian armies (e.g. the newer 10 ruble stamp, chainbreaker stamps, etc.). Evidence of official postal use for these overprinted stamps is hard to come by.
According to the August circular, stamp shipments from postal-telegraph offices to Zhmerynka were to include the office’s entire stock, minus a two week supply of stamps. In the absence of archival sources describing shipment size, a reasonable guess is that these shipments contained a quantity of stamps equal to almost a year’s worth of franking needs. Several observations support this estimate.
Overprinted stamps prepared at Zhmerynka during August–September 1918 for the hubernia’s post offices make up most franking that went through the mail in Podillia during the remainder of 1918 and also in 1919, including periods of Russian occupation. Podillia covers and money transfer and parcel cards that collectors preserved show this to be true.
There are other stamps in the franking from the period:
shahy definitives and savings stamps, which did
not require trident overprinting, trident overprinted
imperforate 3.5 and 1 ruble stamps from the Odesa
Postal District that circulated in Podillia starting
from late November 1918, and the new 20 hryven
stamp with a face value of 10 rubles, introduced in
late January 1919. But the majority of stamps in the
franking of most postal dispatches are made up of stamps overprinted at Zhmerynka.
The 35 and 70 kopek chainbreaker stamps introduced
in Russia in November 1918 were not widely used in Podillia . Most examples of use come from the later Soviet occupation period (Figure 18). As noted, chainbreaker stamps with the Podillia type Ia trident overprint are late period reprints. They did not see official postal use .
Certain documents provide a better sense of what a postal facility’s annual consumption of postage stamps may have been. One such source is a form that lists annual transaction information of the postal-telegraph office in Chernivtsi for 1917. This facility was a class VI postal-telegraph office with one telegraph (Table III). The form comes from the same archival collection that had the circular shown in Figure 12.
Converting transaction statistics into a quantity of consumed stamps may seem to be a simple calculation, but key details are missing. As shown in Table III, the breakdown of the 3,255 dispatched money transfers by postal and telegraph transfer is not provided. Different tariffs apply to each transfer type. This means the franking that would represent the expedited 253,030 rubles can only be a guess. Likewise, the number of stamps consumed in the franking of 1,951 parcels cannot be determined without knowing parcel weights and fees that may apply.
All things considered, a realistic upper limit of the total franking needs at the Chernivtsi postal-telegraph office in 1917 can be roughly 9,000 rubles, but this is only an informed guess. The sum will go up for 1918 because postal tariffs increased that year. It is also necessary to assume that the grater part of the stamps for franking would have been Imperial Arms stamps that had to be shipped to Zhmerynka for overprinting.
The breakdown of the hypothetical 9,000 ruble shipment of stamps by face value is an additional unknown. A thousand rubles of stamps can consist of 20 sheets of the 1 ruble stamp. At 50 stamps per sheet, the 20 sheets can be overprinted with a single handstamp in about an hour. A thousand rubles of stamps can also come as 20 sheets of the ubiquitous 50 kopek stamp. But at 100 stamps per sheet and a smaller stamp surface, overprinting may take twice as long. A thousand rubles of a lower face value stamp would require even more time to overprint.
In considering all of the missing information, a reasonable guess is that a single worker in Zhmerynka using one handstamp could overprint a shipment of stamps arriving from a class VI postal facility, such as the postal-telegraph office in Chernivtsi, within two or thee days. Assuming a seven day work week, it would probably take the official more than 11 weeks to handle all 39 class VI facilities in Table II. Since the time allotted for completing all overprinting was six weeks, more workers and additional handstamps would be needed. This necessity becomes obvious after considering the much larger stamp stocks of class I to class V postal-telegraph offices that also had to be overprinted within six weeks.
A rule of thumb is that the franking need practically doubles for each higher class facility. Accordingly, stamp shipments from class V facilities would require a processing time twice that of shipments from class VI facilities. This comes to roughly 17 weeks for a single operator with one handstamp (4 days each, multiplied by the 29 facilities listed in Table II). The only way for Zhmerynka to keep up would be to have many workers overprinting stamp shipments simultaneously using a number of different handstamps.
Distribution of tridents
According to this reconstruction, the two metal handstamps (Podillia trident types Ia and Ib) would not be sufficient to process all incoming stamp deliveries. Additional handstamps were likely prepared and used at different workstations as shipments of stamps accumulated in Zhmerynka.
Information in catalogs show the distribution of trident types on stamps to be uneven. The Podillia type Ia trident appears on the largest number of face values. It must have been the workhorse at Zhmerynka from the start. The Podillia trident type Ib was the only other handstamp fabricated in metal, possibly by outsourcing. It appeared early and was used extensively, as judged by the many face values that carry this trident type.
Evidence from Zhmerynka for handstamps made from rubber has never been convincing. The source for this claim is a catalog in manuscript format compiled by Babytskyi and Sapozhnykiv under the auspices of the Ukrainian Expert Bureau of the All-Soviet Philatelic Agency . The text was put together in the early 1920s on the basis of visual study of postal money transfer and parcel cards salvaged from hubernia audit chambers. The manuscript became the basis for the Soviet 1927 catalog edited by F. Chuchin . German catalogs  and others  repeat the specifications for handstamp construction from the Soviet catalog, although documents attesting to the use of rubber handstamps in Zhmerynka have not been uncovered.
If a rubber resin was available, then any number of identical handstamps could be fabricated with casts and stereotyping. This does not seem to have happened. Since wood was likely the only material used to fabricate additional handstamps, duplicating designs perfectly was probably not possible, although a number of trident types show similarities that could be attributed to one carving process being repeated. The type of wood used is not known. It may have been the same for all devices or differed in some.
It is not clear if each workstation overprinted the inventory from a single shipment and moved to overprinting others only after finishing work on the initial one. A large delivery of stamps could conceivably have been split, with several workstations being given sets of specific face values to overprint.
This scenario can be characterized as a puzzle with several moving parts: shipments, handstamps and face values. As in a World War II German Enigma encryption machine, the first Walzen or “cipher disk” of Podillia trident overprinting can be stamp shipments that came through Zhmerynka in some fashion and were returned to the originating postal facility. The second “disk” would be the circulation of handstamps used at different workstations for overprinting stamps, each with their unique trident type. The third “disk” would be the breakdown of face values of stamps allocated to different workstations for overprinting.
As with the positioning of different rotors in an Enigma encryption machine, the interplay of the three variables seemingly generated an outcome that is observed, namely a scrambled variety of trident overprint types on a number of stamps of particular face value and being found used in only specific Podillia towns. If valid, this model should be useful in predicting patterns characteristic of Podillia postal practice and for explaining observations about the occurrence and use of the trident overprinted stamps that are so unique to this classical colleting area.
Archival documents provided by V. Anholenko are much appreciated. His assistance in deciphering unclear text and navigating sources helped in many ways. Critical comments of V. Zabijaka, A. Martyniuk, O. Balaban and A. Labunka are gratefully acknowledged. Cities and towns listed in Ukrainian. Archival call number format follows Ukrainian convention: record group, collection, file, folio [Ukr. fond/opys/sprava/arkush.]
1.Seichter, R. 1966. Special Catalog Ukraine 1918–20. [Sonder-Katalog Ukraine 1918/1920.] Soltau, private publication, 21–31 (in German).
2. Bulat, J. 2003. Comprehensive Catalogue of Ukrainian Philately. Private publication, 93–122.
3. Babytskyi, V. Ia. and Sapozhnykiv, V. A. 1925. Catalog of Ukraine [Katalog Ukrainy.] Retyped manuscript, 70–72 (in Russian). Copy from the private archive of the late V. Mohylny (Kyiv), kindly provided by V. Anholenko.
4. Procyk, R. “Collecting Trident Overprinted Stamps From Podillia” Ukrainian Philatelist No. 120 (2019): 24–34.
5. Illustrated schematic based on: Ukraine. Map with railways, roads, iron and salt mines and oil wells [Ukraina. Karta z zaliznytsiamy, shliakhamy, kopalniamy zaliza, soli i nafty.] Kyiv, 1919 (in Ukrainian). Scale 1:2,000,000. Map prepared in Vienna by Freitag and Berndt.
6. Svenson, C. 1926. Ukraine-Handbook. Part I. History of Postage Stamp Issues of the Ukrainian State. [Ukraina-Handbuch. I. Teil-die geschichte der Brriefmarkenausgaben des Ukraina-staates.] Wiesbaden-Sonnenberg, 141–145 (in German).
7. Hawryluk, S. “The Zhmerynka (Podillia) Trident Overprints.” Ukrainian Philatelist No. 61 (1992): 35–40.
8. Mohylny, V. “Why did Ukrainian Overprints Appear?” [Chomu z”iavylysia ukrains’ki peredruky?]
Ukrainskyi Filatelistychnyi Visnyk (Oct.–Dec. 1989): 47–50 (in Ukrainian). Also: “Sources on the History of Postal Issues. 3. Notice of the Minister of Internal Affairs as related to Postal-Telegraph Matters from August 12, 1918...” [Dzherela do istorii poshtovykh vydan’. 3. Obizhna tovarysha ministra vnutrishnykh sprav po poshtovo-telehrafnykh spravakh iz 12 serpnia 1918...] Ukrainskyi Filatelistychnyi Visnyk 3(24) (1993): 27–28 (in Ukrainian).
9. Ivakhno, O. “History of Postage Stamp Issues in Ukraine 1918–1919” [Istoriia vypuska znakov pochtovoi oplaty Ukrainy 1918–1919 gg.] Ukrainskaia i Rossiiskaia Filateliia (1) 1991: 4–6 (in Russian). Document text in section “Documents” [Dokumenty]: 44.
10. Epstein, A. “Classic Ukrainian Trident Issues: An Overview. Chapter 1: Classification and Listing.” Ukrainian Philatelist No. 86 (2001): 54–57.
11. [Nykolskyi, O.] “Sources on the History of Postal Issues. 2. Notice on Overprinting in Zhmerynka of stamps issued in Russia” [Dzherela do istorii poshtovykh vydan’. 2. Obizhnyk pro peredruk u Zhmeryntsi marok rosiiskoho vydannia.] Ukrainskyi Filatelistychnyi Visnyk 5(20) (1992): 52–53 (in Ukrainian).
12. Roberts, C. W. 1955. The Trident Issues of the Ukraine, Part IV, Podillia and Postal Stationary. Privately published, 12–13.
13. Epstein, A. “Classic Ukrainian Trident Issues: An Overview. Chapter 6: Podillia Postal/ Telegraphic Administration.” Ukrainian Philatelist No. 93 (2005): 6–18, illustration 8. See also: Furman, V. “Overprints of 1918. “Brownian motion” in Podillia.” [Nadruky 1918 r. “Brounivskyi rukh na Podilli] Filateliia Ukrainy 2(58) (2006): 7–12, illustration 2 (in Ukrainian).
14. Bruker XRF (X-Ray) Spectrometer at the Philatelic Foundation (New York, NY) used to determine elements in overprint ink.
15. Kuzych, I. “Reflections on the Classification of Podillia Tridents.” Ukrainian Philatelist No. 84 (2001): 52–57.
16. Bylen, P. 1996. Independent Ukraine 1918–1920. A Catalog-Checklist of National Postage Stamp Issues as well as Regional Trident Overprints and Occupational Issues. Westchester Il, Ukrainian Philatelic Resources No. 5, 107–112.
17. 35 Schaetzle-Briefmarken Auktionen AG, Wolleraum, Feb. 8, 1986: 9–20; plates 30–72.
18. Filimonov, V. V. 1911. Podillia Hubernia Memorial Book for 1911. [Pamiatnaia knizhka Podolskoi guberniy na 1911 god.] Hubernia Statistical Committee, Kamianets-Podilsky, 239–41 in Russian); from https://vivaldi.nlr.ru/bx000003511/details (accessed Feb. 25, 2020). Also: Krylov, A. 1905. Populated Places of Podillia Hubernia. [Naselennyia miasta Podolskoi Gubernii] Podillia Hubernia Administration, Kamianets-Podilsky (in Russian); from https://nibu.kyiv.ua/greenstone/cgi-bin/library... (accessed April 17, 2020).
19. State Archive of Vinnytsia Oblast (DAVIO); http://davio.gov.ua/group_fund/d___fondi_ustanov_organizaciy_ta_pidpriemstv_do_1917_1920_rokiv (accessed April 17, 2020).
20. DAVIO, Chernivtsi Postal-Telegraph Branch [Д-22 Chernivetske poshtovo-telehrafhe viddilennia ],f. D-22, op. 1, spr. 33, ark 131.
21. DAVIO f. D-221, op. 1, sp. 12, ark. 224.
22. Roberts, C. W. 1955. The Trident Issues of the Ukraine, Part IV, Podillia and Postal Stationary. Privately published, 6. See also: Andriieshyn, H. “Trident Overprints on Russian Issue Postage Stamps during 1918–1919 in Podillia” [Nadruky tryzuba na poshtovykh markakh rosiiskoho vydannia u 1918–1919 rr. na Podilli.] Filateliia Ukrainy 2(22) (2000): 29–33 (in Ukrainian).
23. Glembotskii, A. 1912. Compendium of Resolutions and Instructions of Postal-Telegraph Departments... [Sbornik postanovlenii i rasporiazhenii po poshtovo-telegrafnomu viadomstvu...], 3rd ed. St. Petersburg, Ekateryngofskoe Pechatnoe Dielo, Introduction, p. IV (in Russian).
24. Collection of The National Ministry of Posts and Telegraphs of the Ukrainian National Republic, Kyiv; from Nov. 1919 in Kamianets-Podilskyi; from 1920 in Poland. Central State Archive of Supreme Authorities and Governments of Ukraine, f. 554, op. 1, spr. 39, ark. 9 zv.–10. Record group described at: http://tsdavo.gov.ua/fonds/view-fond.php?id=580 (accessed Mar. 21,2020).
25. Central State Archive of Supreme Authorities and Governments of Ukraine, f. 3325, op. 2, spr. 32,ark. 68.
26. Anholenko, V. “Trident Overprinting of Postage Stamps for Outside Parties” [Zatryzubuvannia poshtovykh marok dlia storonnikh osib.] Filatelistychna Dumka 1(7) (2013): 1–6 (in Ukrainian).
27. Epstein, A. “The ‘Chainbreakers’: Soviet Russia’s first stamps.” The British Journal of Russian Philately No. 76 (1994): 20–38.
28. Chuchin, F. G. (ed.) 1927. Postage Stamp and Stationary Catalog. Part 4. Ukraine. [Katalog pochtovykh marok i tselnykh veshchei, vyp. IV. Ukraina.] Moscow, Soviet Philatelic Agency, 61–90 (in Russian).