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  Tannu Tuva Collectors' Society, Inc.
          APS Affiliate #235


Tuva has become world-famous with the award-winning movie, Genghis Blues.
The film follows the adventures of an artist at the 1995 Hoomei Symposium, which was marked by this commemorative stamp.

  1995 Hoomei Symposium, Kizil.
The 1995 Hoomei Symposium, immortalised
by the movie GENGHIS BLUES.

Read an article on hoomei and the Tuva group Huun Huur Tu
The throat-singers of Tuva - article from Scientific American, 1999
How to do hoomei
Visit the Genghis Blues website

Visit the Huun Huur Tu website.

  Genghis Blues.


Another epic movie about Tuva is Tuva – Crossroads of the Ages, released about 1968. In color and with English soundtrack, it is difficult to locate today. Released as a documentary by Mosfilm, in 16mm format, the film was distributed thru Russian diplomatic posts abroad, but didn't achieve high audiences. The hour-long movie includes some old black-&-white footage of Tuvan aircraft off to fight the Germans in the Second World War. Did you know that Tuva was the first country to declare war on Germany?!
One of our members has the final reel of this film, about 15 minutes duration,
but we are still seeking reel one. Can you help?


There are many. Probably best-known is Tuva or Bust by Ralph Leighton. This is out-of-print, but can often be found at remainder shelves of bookstores. The hardback edition contains a flimsy vinyl disk of Tuvan throat-singing. The paperback does not.

A good book that your library may have is Unknown Mongolia, by Douglas Carruthers (Hutchison, London, 1913, two volumes.) Carruthers was an English explorer who visited Tuva (or Uriankhai as it was then known), and in volume one, a good picture of conditions in the country is given. There were no Post Offices in existence when Carruthers was there.

Beasts, Men, and Gods, by Ferdinand Ossendowski, is an interesting account of a medical practicioner fleeing from the Russian Civil War unrest, who travels thru the tumultuous land of Tuva, thence to Mongolia, where he meets with Baron Ungern von Sternberg, a Teutonic general leading the White army against the Bolsheviks. He also meets with the last Mongolian god-king. No philatelic mentions, but the book is good to give us an idea of conditions in the early 1920s. This book went thru many printings, and is often available at second-hand book dealers.

Samuel Blekhman in Russia compiled an in-depth study on Tuva philately, Postal History & Stamps of Tuva Region, (1976) which is a very limited edition paperback, and with a number of full-color plates showing rare covers from the author's collection. The book is entirely in Russian, and commands high prices at auction. Fortunately, TTCS member Ron Hogg has done an English translation, which has been published by the TTCS. Click the book cover at right to see a full-size picture.   Samuel Blekhman's book.
Click this cover to see a larger and clearer picture. Russian
Samuel Blekhman's book mentioned above is now available in English, published by the Club. TTCS member Ron Hogg has done the English translation. (1997) Sadly, the full-color plates in the Russian version are reprinted in black in this version, but the color photos of covers can be seen on this website.
Click the book cover at the right to see a full-size picture.
For details on buying the English translation, click here.
  Samuel Blekhman's book, English version.
Click this cover to see a larger and clearer picture. English

The Mongolia Society has the Tuvan Manual, by John R. Krueger (1977). It is a spiral-bound, 261-page area handbook with grammar, reader, glossary, and bibliography. It's notes on Tuva stamps are a bit passé. It is available for $25 (plus $5.50 shipping in the USA) from Mongolia Society, 211 Goodbody Hall, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN. 47405-2401, U.S.A. or e-mail them.

Open Lands, by Mark Taplin, is a new travel essay book about an American diplomat's travel to formerly "closed" areas in the Russian Federation. It includes a chapter on Tuva, as well as some other interesting areas. In the Tuva section, Taplin visits Kyzyl and the countryside. He even visits a family in a yurt (gur). His host is a Russian married to a Tuvan, and some believe this colors the narrative a bit. In the bibliography, two TTCS members are listed. It is a good, entertaining read, with some insight into post-Soviet Russia. A paperback edition is available for $18 from Steerforth Press, P.O. Box 70, South Royalton, VT 05068, U.S.A. Visit their website.

Best book ever about Tuva is Journey to Tuva, by Otto Mänchen-Helfen. This is an account of life in Tuva in 1929 by an Austrian anthropologist who visited the country, and was published in German in the 1930s. An English translation by TTCS member Alan Leighton is now available, in both hardback and paperback, and is an exceptional publication. It includes photos of Tuva from the time, stamps, and even two covers that the author posted to his wife in Vienna, bearing many of the 1927 pictorials.

Vadim Nikolayevich Ustinovskii, probably the most knowledgeable Tuvan philatelist on the planet, has published a major new handbook on Tuvan philately. Here are the details: "Tuva: Znaki Pochtovoi Oplaty" ["Tuva: Means of Postal Payment"], by Vadim Nikolayevich Ustinovskii (Moscow: 2000).

In Russian, with a three-page English summary. The Table of Contents is in English, too. 204 pp. Extremely well printed, on high-quality glossy paper. (A gorgeous production!) Soft (paperback) cover. Perfect binding (where the individual pages are glued to the spine). Fold-out map of Tuva at the turn of the nineteenth century. 100 numbered figures (photographs, covers, diagrams, sketch map), and at least two unnumbered photographs (a stone man, and a historical photograph of a crowd assembled before the Tuvan Government building in Kyzyl on the day of Tuva's absorption into the USSR). Errata sheet (incomplete)

Every main type of stamp is illustrated in color (some perforation varieties are only in black/white; other perforation varieties, as well as color shades, etc., are not illustrated). All known Tuvan cancels (including many forgeries) are illustrated. Many perforation varieties (missing or double perfs, etc.), overprint varieties, rare stamps, etc., are illustrated in the colorful end papers.

The book deals with just about anything you would want to know about Tuvan philately in the TPR period and just before. In a cursory examination, I have already found several typos and some omissions – am I really the only one to know some of this stuff? Also, Mr. Ustinovskii's point assignments are substantially the same as in his 1992 "Filateliya" magazine catalog - namely, ridiculous. But despite its weaknesses, this book is a must-have for any Tuvan philatelist! It is better in almost every respect than Blekhman's famous handbook. Even those who do not speak Russian will greatly profit from the marvellous illustrations of stamps (every one of them illustrated in color), proofs (many in color), covers (mainly b/w), postal stationery (color), forgeries (b/w), perforation varieties, overprints, cancellations, registration markings, and more.
Click the book cover at the right to see a full-size picture.
To buy this book, e-mail Alan Leighton.

  Tuva: mean of postal payment

The best we list last, only from modesty. The TTCS has published a very detailed Stamp Catalog listing all known varieties of Tuva's stamps. This is Tannu Tuva Catalog, by TTCS member Albert J. Mirr. (1995) For more details on the book, click here. This catalog has become standard for our members now, and is commonly known as "the Mirr Catalog." We refer to Tuva stamps by the Mirr number for each. Click the book cover at the right to see a full-size picture.
To buy this book, click here.
  The Mirr Catalog, 1995.

Click this picture to see a larger-size view.



Articles in various philatelic journals remain the best source for collectors to research the stamps and postal history of Tuva. Here is a list of some of the best ones.

Philately's Ugliest Ducklings: rehabilitating the 1934-36 issues of Tannu Tuva, by James Negus. (1960, The Philatelic Journal.)
Tannou Touva – a survey,
by A. Cronin & W.S.E. Stephen. (1958, Rossica # 54.)
Some Notes on Tannou Touva,
by A. Cronin. (1954, The NSW Philatelic Annual.)
New Information on Tannu Tuva,
by M. Mochi. (1958.)
Some Notes on the Usages and Postmarks of the Stamps of Tannu Tuva,
by H.D.S. Haverbeck. (1984, Collectors' Club Philatelist.)
Exposé on the Recent Issues of Tuva,
by Les Winick. (1999, The Philatelic Exporter, February.)
Perforations of the 1936 'Jubilee' Issues of Tannu Tuva,
by James Negus. (1959, British Journal of Russian Philately, vol. 4, #25.)
The Riddles of Belotsarsk,
by F. Vanius (= Vadim Ustinovskii.). (1998, Pravda-5, and 1999, TbBA #19.)
The Tuvan "Zeps",
by Gwyn Williams (2001, TbBA #24.)
Philately's Rough Trade – a report on illegal stamps Part One (2002, TbBA #26)
by J. M. Chute.
Philately's Rough Trade – a report on illegal stamps Part Two (2002, TbBA #27)
by J. M. Chute.

1926, 5 rubles of the first issue.
Click this stamp to see more Classics of Tuva.    1995,Felines, 450 rubles.
Click this stamp to view the full set.     1933, 15k on 1 ruble carmine fiscal.
Click this stamp to view a block of four.     Xena the Warrior Princess,
obviously a great Tuvinian.
Click the stamp to see the full set.

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