This week a well know seller offered several Armenian stamps on eBay. He is member of APS and APEX and – as far as I know – expert for Russian stamps. Both things are good news for the potential buyer. The codex of the societies does not allow to knowingly sell forgeries.
The important thing is to read and understand the “sell it strictly on AS IS basis” passage of the text attached to the images.
For those that do not know: this means, the seller offers the goods as is, meaning he takes no responsibility for the offered goods and the buyer should know if and how much he bids by himself. While the only thing he gets for him to make a decision is an image.
Why would the seller do this? One reason is, he is not familiar with the Armenian overprints and simply does not know if a given stamp/overprint is good or not. And he is honest enough to admit it. This is not a remote possibility, we all know about the many forgeries. Another reason is, the seller is well aware about the fact that the stamp he is offering is fake, but he looks for a buyer who is not knowledgeable enough to see the forgery as such and tries to make a bargain (buy cheap).
Again and again I am taken aback about how many bids so many obvious fake items get. And here we have an honest seller who says “AS IS”. You have been warned.
I can remember when I started collecting Armenian stamps. Back then, I spent way too much money on forgeries. I needed to get a certain amount of stamps as basic collection to be able to work with the literature. Once you have seen a genuine item and studied it in comparison to a forged one, you learn to see the differences. And more and more you will learn to distinguish the good ones from the bad ones. A real problem are the rare overprints you do not see often (or kind of never). When such an item is offered you have nothing to compare it too.
For instance the red 50 (Goldkopecks) on 25.000 rubles.
How do you know if this is fake? If the overprint is extremely crude you can see this when comparing with pictures in the literature. The problem is, the literature available does not feature high quality pictures.
But there is another thing that you can do, and that is not too hard. The first thing to check is the basic (underlying) stamp onto which the overprint is applied. If this stamp is fake, the overprint is fake too.
This stamp is a forgery (the easy to spot reprint type). In this case there are two ease marks:
1. the border line is unclear with color spots outside
2. the vertical lines on the right side are not parallel where the end just below the decoration
There are several more examples where a lot of bidders gave offers an stamps, where even with the small scan you can see that the basic stamp is a forgery.
The overprint does also not even resemble the genuine one in the slightest bit (very wrong, unlike the genuine one). And even easier to spot: the basic stamp is a forgery.
Also an overprint on a forgery. Someone bid over 40 bucks on this fake item.
There was quite some activity on this item.
With exception of the bidder “0***o” the highest bid from a experienced (more then 100 feedbacks) buyer was 10 USD. Which shows the bidders were cautions. You can be sure, there are several bidders worldwide (me included) who would bid much more if this item would have been genuine. For my taste 40 bucks is still way too much for this garbage item.
Another forged stamp.
And one more forged stamp.
In this case we have a genuine stamp, but the overprint is fake (ink, shape of the “0”).
And finally a genuine stamp with a genuine overprint.
For the buyer the term “AS IS” means: buy only if you know what you are buying! If unsure, or the item is too cheap to be true: the item is FAKE!
PS: One more thing. From my experience Scott catalog prices regarding Armenia do not reflect the real rarity of the stamps. Do not be surprised if a knowledgeable seller requests much more or even less than what is given in Scott. As a rule of thumb: Do not use Scott for Armenia. A much better – even if not perfect – alternative is the Liapin catalog.