Ray Ceresa passed away on the 10th of June. He was a great philatelist, author of the Handbooks about Transcaucasia, Ukraine, Russia and the regions of civil war 1917-23. I had the opportunity to met him and still remember this day vividly. I learned a lot with the help of his books and papers. He also commented a lot on this blog.
I will remember him always as a fellow collector, researcher and friend. He truly was one of the greatest in the area of Armenian philately.
My heartfelt condolences go out to his wife and family.
On November the 6th I wrote an article about a fake cover offered at David Feldman auction house. It is listed again. Please meet Lot 20385 at the current Russia auction.
There is something new also. We got a scan of the Holcombe certificate. Looks genuine. Peter Holcombe seems not to be a reliable source for certificates regarding Armenia.
PS: Mistakes happen. I got a very fast answer from the auction house, the lot has been withdrawn and marked as “bad” so no new listing should happen.
Sometimes the back-side of a stamp is almost as interesting as the front-side. Here is an example of a stamp with 5 signatures:
- A fancy sign that is often present on stamps with genuine overprints.
- The signature of Philipp Kosack (* 17.5.1869; † 16.5.1938) a German dealer located in Berlin.
- Dr. R. J. Ceresa, a well known expert for Armenia and other areas.
- Emil Louis Richard Senf (* 02.08.1855; † 17.01.1941) and
Wilhelm August Louis Senf (* 02.08.1852; † 12.02.1940)
– the famous Senf Brothers – dealers in Leipzig
- Oscar Riep, dealer in Berlin – around the same time as Senf brothers.
I guess there is still place for some more. But seriously, in the stamp trade of the first half of the 20th century you will often stumble over just the same names again and again.
A made a page on the blog where I list the signatures that you can find on stamps of Armenia together with some background information. See here.
The latest addition to my collection is this quarter sheet of overprinted stamps.
This is a high quality scan so you can zoom in a bit and check all the details. The stamp itself is quite common but getting large multiples is certainly not. Since the overprints are made using hand devices there is a lot of variation. This often makes checking the overprints difficult because it is necessary to distinguish between variations resulting of the so called “human factor” (including changes in the ink, pressure and angle used when applying the hand stamp and how often the clerk used the hand stamp before he used fresh ink) and variations that mean the overprint is forged. With time and training and a lot of material for comparison most forgeries can be detected by checking distinctive regions of interest.
Here some examples of the variations. Some of them are useful for forgery detection.
Example 1: The serif is quite prominent and in the shape of a diamond.
Example 2: The serif now looks like a triangular hook.
Example 3: The diagonal line is broken. Not a distinctive characteristic of a genuine overprint but it shows how far the variation can go. For forgery detection the shape of the “handles” in the middle is quite important.
Example 4: A left over of the frame. The unframed Z overprint are the successors of the framed Zs when the frame was removed due to wear.
Example 5: A very prominent leftover of the frame at the bottom of the overprint.
Again a cover is being offered in an auction. This time the auction house is Hadersbeck Auktionen in Berlin, Germany.
The description (translated from German) reads:
“1920, 1R, horizontal pair and 5 on 20 K., vertical pair on registered cover, St. “Yerevan 10. 10. 20″ to Tashkent (arrival postmark)”.
Makes me wonder. Tashkent! Where? It is obviously sent to the company “Fortuna” located in Tiflis. The arrival cancel reads Tiflis too. Not much effort was put into checking this item.
The resolution of the scan is too low for a real check, but the unframed Z overprint could be OK while the 5r HH overprint looks fake.
The easy giveaway for this forgery are the cancels. The serial character seems to be a “d”.
The large Erivan characters are a good effort but the date figures are totally wrong. They look nothing like the genuine ones. Even spotting serifs. They remind me of the Goldkopeck overprints though. The arrival cancel of Tiflis is fake too.
A blog reader asked my about my opinion regarding this item currently offered at Raritan.
This looks like a typical official document. The Etchmiadzin cancel shows a date stamp reading (most likely) 4.8.22. I am always skeptical when seeing these bureaucratic documents with a non fiscal stamp.
The scan is not really good. Too low res. There is potential for improvement. If I ask a buyer to spend 400 bucks upwards for an item – and we all know forgeries are not rare in the world of Armenian postal items – I would certainly see it as my duty to provide a good scan. Let us say at least 600 DPI.
My conclusion (from the bad scan): stamp and narrow “2” overprint are genuine. Cancel is fake and stamp added to the document at a later time.
If Raritan or the buyer can provide a better scan I offer to recheck this item for free!
The time stamp of the cancel reads 4.8.22. This falls in the period of the gold kopeck issues. Postal rate at that time was – according to Ahsford/Tchilinghirian – from May to August 1922 at 3 to 4 Kopecks for a letter. The overprint itself (2 on 500 rubles) belongs to the third gold kopeck issue, which was produced in and used from January 1923. Again this leads to the conclusion that the stamp was added later.
I do not often browse the ebay listings anymore. While you can find genuine material, it takes browsing through an overwhelming amount of forgeries and uninteresting stuff.
Here some highlights of the bad kind.
All cancels fake. Most of the base stamps forgeries.
I can see one genuine overprint.
Quite high price tag.
I think there is not a single stamp with a genuine overprint.
And you can spend a lot of money on worthless forgeries.