The Zemstvos were also to maintain the ways and means of communication; however, Czar Alexander II refused to relinquish the postal service and kept it as his own private domain. He also would not expand the areas served. Therefore the Imperial Postal system did not even offer service to the majority of the Zemstvos.
The Zemstvos, desperate for mail, began their own courier service to transport vital documents between the various government agencies within their own jurisdiction. In the early years these documents were transported on a gratuitous basis to circumvent the Czar’s edict regarding the exclusivity of the royal mail tariff. This soon led to the inclusion of commercial and personal items among the dispatch riders’ deliveries, which created the need for a system to indicate items on which the tariff had been paid. Initially seals were affixed to the address area on the documents to identify them.