The Erivan Pictorials

I am working on a sub page presenting the stamps and overprints of the Erivan Pictorial Issue. You can find it on the mene right under Stamp Issues or you follow this link: The Erivan Pictorial Issue

This is work in progress.

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Armenian stamps used in Georgia

Armenian stamps, created by applying handstamped overprints on Tsarists stamps, were used as base stamps for issues in Georgia and Transcaucasia. A further overprint was applied to create a new issue.

In case of the Transcaucasian issue in April 1923 a star overprint was used.

star on framed Z on 1 rub small

The stamp shown features an E.6 type framed Z overprint. On the back side is a genuine mark of the Soviet Philatelic Association which shines through at the lower right corner. The stamps with the star overprints where used mostly in Baku since there was a shortage of stamps at this time. A couple of different Armenian stamps with star overprints exist. Like most material from that time the star overprints have been massively forged. The historical circumstances of the star issue (remaining stock from all three members of the Federation were requested and sent to Tiflis for overprinting/stamping) suggest that no over the counter productions or rare overprints were used. If you find unusual overprints in unusual colors, it is most likely fake.

The Georgians used Armenian stamps as part of a somewhat “enigmatic” (like Ceresa called it) issue in 1923. It probably was an emergency issue and so far has been only reported to be used in Tiflis.

15000 on 5rhh on 15 kop

One of the open questions about this issue is why the overprint is only 15.000 rubles when postal rates at this time go from 75.000 rubles for a local postcard to 500.000 rubles for a foreign registered letter [Ceresa]. The Liapin catalog (which represents Zakiyans research) as well as Ceresa only list the 15.000 rubles overprint on the 5r HH on 15 Kopeck. Other combinations are most likely fake. If you own those please send me a scan. Even if the chance is very slim, it is still possible combinations exist that were previously not known.

Here are scans I got from a reader of this blog which show unusual Armenian overprints (red ink!) and are fake.

sg0001 sg0000


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Forged cover on ebay

A reader of my blog sent my the link to an auction with the question what I think of that item. So let us take a look. ebay cover fake alexandropol x

The seller uses a low starting price – which is a bit strange. But perhaps he got it cheap and is unsure about covers from Armenia. He describes the cover as very scarce, which indicates in my eyes that he thinks the cover is genuine.

s-l1600 (1)

The front side looks a bit unclean on the left side, but paper and handwriting look legit. It is addressed to Tiflis. I do not like the registration label – it is probably genuine itself, but looks like it was not part of the cover back then. The cancel is also a bit off.


The backside show several stamps and the Aleksandropol cancel is seen with he “b” character. This is not one of the usual types used then and when you look at the front side you see the “x” instead of an asterisk. I have seen that one! Here is a blog entry I made about that cancel.


The receiver cancel of Tiflis is probably genuine – at least the part not on the stamp. You can see how unclean the part is where it enters the stamp.


If that is not enough, the overprints are crude forgeries too. This “hollow” version of the 100 r HH overprint is really ugly.

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Thoughts about new lots at Raritan

The current auction (#68) at Raritan lists some lots from Armenia. While the some (e.g. the pictorial color proofs) look genuine, there are others which are outright fake or dubious.

The framed Z on 1 Kopek should always be examined with great caution. The base stamp was used for the k60k overprint. Tchilinghirian/Ashford do not list this overprint on the 1 Kopeck stamp. The only possible reason for an existing item would be an over the counter production. I have not seen a genuine one so far.


Even with the low resolution of the scan it is obvious that that is a fake overprint.

It is not as easy with the cover and the newspaper items.

Let us start with the cover. The script and paper look legit. General appearance is like a genuine item.


When looking more carefully, doubts arise. The cancel on the front side looks quite uneven, but I would still give it the benefit of doubt.


The big giveaway is the backside. The 35K overprints are fake (wrong shape and ink) and the cancel is wrong. The part from 3 o’clock to 6 o’clock is probably genuine but the remaining 3 quarters are clearly forged.


Conclusion: genuine stampless cover with added forged stamps and cancel.  You need not to be an expert for Armenian stamps to see this.

More complicated are the newspaper items. They should generally be viewed with caution. It is always a temptation for forgers to make a valuable item from several cheap original ones. My experience with the newspapers is: genuine newspaper + genuine stamp + genuine overprint and forged cancel (at least the part on the paper).

Here an example.


A pity the resolution is so low. I think the auction houses could do better. They need to make a scan either way and why not provide a link to a high resolution scan as download? That would be not much extra work and is an excellent service for all potential customers.

I do not like the appearance of the cancel in general, but even with the low resolution given you can see the wrong shape of the character “she”.


In my opinion the other newspaper items are at least doubtful, most likely forged. More could be said with better scans or the items on my desk.

Take care!

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Modern forgeries

Got a mail from a dealer regarding this item, which is clearly fake. A typical example of the modern (around 2000) cancel forgeries apparently origination in Armenia. A first giveaway is the blank cover. The forger did not finish his work on this item. I already collected one or two handful of those cancel forgeries. Once you are aware of this type and have seen several you spot them quite easy. The ink color and style, unclean appearance are always the same. I bought it at the end in order to show it here.

fake cover 270223 front web

The cancel details.

fake cover 270223 detail web

The ink is wrong and uneven applied. Characters and date figures incorrect.

Btw, this type of the Novo Bayasets cancel is very rare. If you own an item with this cancel I would love to get a high resolution scan.

Add: Here some examples from the collection in the Gallery.

bob detail 1_1

I got the same fake cancel on a cut out piece. Bought it on the web (Delcampe or eBay) from a seller from Armenia. Very unclean appearance. Characters and date figures wrong. General measurements near to genuine.

bob detail 4_1

Again unclean and kinda fuzzy. The date figures are dizzy and different from the genuine ones.

bob detail 2_1

And one more.

The stamps and overprints are genuine – from what I have seen so far. I do not think the cancels were made using printers. Toner prints look different – you get to see the particles when zooming in and ink printed cancels do not look so unclean and uneven (ink-wise).

Perhaps a cliche was made from bronze or gum?

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Gallery update

Made a big update on the gallery. A lot of nice Serebrakian covers which are genuine and very useful for comparison. Also some very rare and interesting Near East Relief covers which show usage of the pictorial issue and represent the Goldkopeck postage time. Also some fake items. You can get a feeling for how those look and be aware when you get offered those.

Thanks Bob for letting us have a look at your great collection. This is useful to all collectors.

Add: Made it completely new. Reworked images sizes and encoding and used Gallery Feature of WordPress. I like it much better now. Should load faster and be easier to browse. Let me know what you think.

Visit the Gallery

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New page: Gallery

I added a new page. There I will present scans of postcards and letters I get from collectors. This is very useful for comparison and information about postal rates, cancels etc.


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