Dr. R. J. Ceresa

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.

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Fake cover again

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 I got a very fast answer from the auction house, the lot has been withdrawn and marked as “bad” so no new listing should happen.

Posted in Ebay, Delcampe and Co, Forged, Mixed Ruble and Z, Ruble | Leave a comment

Talking signatures

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:

  1. A fancy sign that is often present on stamps with genuine overprints.
  2. The signature of Philipp Kosack (* 17.5.1869; † 16.5.1938) a German dealer located in Berlin.
  3. Dr. R. J. Ceresa, a well known expert for Armenia and other areas.
  4. 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
  5. 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.

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Unframed large Z on one Ruble unperforated

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.

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Tashkent or Tiflis?

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.


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Fake item at Raritan

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!

Additional thoughts

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.

Posted in Ebay, Delcampe and Co, Forged | 3 Comments

Forgeries on ebay

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.


Posted in Ebay, Delcampe and Co, Forged | 2 Comments

Crude Forgery – Postcard with added stamps

A reader sent me this picture of the latest work of the forgers. Not nice. And the card is wasted too.

This card is listed at newauction.ru and got a price tag of 1.500 rubles. I guess this is one of the cheaper forgeries.

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The 100r HH overprint on an unperforated 5 Ruble stamp – more examples

The discussion about the stamp brought two more scans from blog readers.

Here is an example in a rather grayish ink.


All characteristics of the genuine overprint are present.


I think this overprint is genuine.


Here is the scan of the second example. The base stamp is perforated, so it is not really the same rare combination.100rhhon5r

The overprint should be the same though.


While I can find a lot of correct details the overall impression is irritating. It looks like the HH part is optically disturbed like being seen through a lens. There are also details I don’t like (second zero not smaller). For a final decision I need  a better scan or the stamp in my hands. When I get the stamp itself I can take measurements and rule out alterations resulting from the used hardware (scanner etc.).

So keep it coming. This is free “scan opinions” for your stamps.

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The 100r HH overprint on an unperforated 5 Ruble stamp – a rare combination

Recently I did an opinion for a stamp which is now in the Corinphila auction:


This is a rare stamp. Other collectors know this too and one wrote me when he saw the stamp listed at the auction. Included within the email was a scan with several similar stamps – some from his collection. It is always interesting to get feedback like this. For instance, I can get a “feeling” how much of those stamps exist. Sometimes all overprints have a similar appearance, which hints that perhaps only one sheet or part of sheet was used for overprinting. The scan showed four examples of the 100r HH overprint, three times on unperforated 5 Rubles stamps.

The first stamp from the scan


The overprint looks genuine. The ink is different in comparison to the stamp from the auction. Less fluid and a bit weak. For a last judgement I need a better scan or the stamp itself.

The second stamp from the scan


A nice multiple. The appearance is different in comparison to both of the other examples. The ink seems to be very fluid when looking at the HH part. All the finer details are washed away. Still the 100r part looks rather sharp. The 100r part also shows the characteristics of the genuine overprint (raised “0”, tiliting).

The overprint is not genuine. I will discuss the major flaws with the help of this enlarged fragment. Arrow indicate the interesting points.


  1. No gaps. All characteristic details of this point where the lines of the two characters meet are missing.
  2. The top of the line is too thick.
  3. There is a horizontal gap in the line (additional to the distance between the two characters).
  4. The foot of the “1” is too thick and strong.

The third stamp from the scan


A little bit weak but clean looking overprint. The 100r part has the raised “0” and correct tilting. But the HH part shows errors.


  1. The left end of the “S” is wrong. Not round enough and too much space to the “hook” of the line above.
  2. The hollow line of the “S” shows characteristic narrowing at the point were it crosses the lines of the other character. This narrowing is missing here
  3. Same, perhaps even more prominent here.

The forth stamp from the scan


The ink is stronger and fluid here, making a smudgy impression. The 100r part again shows the correct characteristics. The HH part is hard to tell. I would not rule out a genuine overprint here. For a final conclusion a better scan and taking measurements is necessary.

That leaves us with just one genuine stamp from this scan.

Compared to other collecting areas, you are able to buy the rarities of Armenia for little money, it seems. I am looking forward to learn what the auction will achieve as price tag for this stamp.

PS: I got scans from another reader. Way to go! 🙂


Here are two more stamps. The left one with a very fluid ink the right one with weaker ink but still a quite clear impression.

I think the left one has definitely a fake overprint while the right one looks ok to me. When comparing both overprints one beside the other it is possible to see the differences quite easily. All of them are not due to the different ink or manual applying (human factor as Ashford/Tchilinghirian called). Click on the image and then on “full size” to get an enlarged view.


  1. The horizontal line of the genuine overprint is not straight, but goes down in the middle.
  2. The hollow space in the upper part is to wide on the fake overprint and the top line is not hooked enough.
  3. The bulge of the genuine overprint goes up quite a lot. The fake overprint fails to do this correctly.
  4. The “tail” on the genuine overprint starts more to the left (in comparison with the fake one) and the bends more and ends in the distinct shape.

There are more differences in the 100r part but not as clear to see. The second “0” shape is wrong, also the foot of the “1”. The latter one could also be due to the ink being so fluid.

PPS: I add a comparison of the overprint of the multiple. If you see the HH overprint remember it is made from two Armenian characters laid one over the other. When following the lines of each character (red and blue) you can easily see where the forger failed. There are even gaps in the character lines.


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