Once and again Armenian items find their way in large auctions. Here is an example of a cover in the current David Feldman auction:
While the cancel looks nice and clean (it is fake too) the 100r HH ruble overprint is a very crude forgery.
When I check the 100r HH overprint the first thing to look at is the base line of the “100r” part of the overprint. The genuine overprint always shows a raised second “0”. You can easily detect 80-90% of all the 100r forgeries with this. Of course there are more errors. The zeros are not tilted, the foot of the “1” is wrong and the shape of the “r” is also wrong. But fake is fake, there is no need to go into more detail once you find the first error.
For more information see my article about the 100r HH overprint in this blog.
Besides this, the lilac “Z” overprint beneath the 100r HH actually looks good. A pity the forger destroyed this nice stamp.
Now that it is clear the cover is fake, let’s check the cancel more thoroughly.
It looks clean and nice. Only detailed inspection shows it is a dangerous forgery. The characters “ERIVAN” are to narrow, the line of the date is not even (it goes up to the right side) and the dot between month and year is missing. Not easy to see if you cant compare directly with a genuine one. I got another card with this fake cancel and a single stamp (charity issue) with an identical 100r HH fake overprint and this fake cancel. I think there are also differences in the upper hook of the serial character compared to the genuine cancel, but I need a better scan or the item itself to really check this.
The description of the auction lot mentions a Holcombe certificate. This is either fake too or another case of the “universal experts” entering terrain there are not really familiar with.
When stamps got overprinted by hand errors or mistakes occur. I think about mistakes that are not what Ashford/Tchilinghirian describe as “human factor”, like: more or less pressure, angle variations, different mixtures or more or less diluted inks used. I also do not think about the Serebrakian “freaks” like putting four identical overprints on one stamp. What I am having in mind is putting a 3r HH overprint on a stamp were normally only 5r HH overprints would be. Done by a clerk who just used the wrong overprinting device by mistake. Back then, rules (T&A call it schemes) applied which basic stamp was used for a certain overprint. One example is the use of the 3r HH overprint on stamps with 3 Kopeck and 5r HH on stamps with 5 Kopeck face value. This changed sometimes since each time a new issue was prepared they checked the stamps in stock and decided on what to use and they had also to use the stamps were the face value did not respond to a new overprint value. Over the period of the HH Monograms (Ruble overprints) seven (7!) different issues were produced – according to Ashford/Tchilinghirian. There are several known cases of corrected overprints described by T&A and Ceresa. These stamps are not listed in Michel but you can find them in the Liapin catalog with quite high price tags. A last remark: you can also find rare so called OTC (over the counter) productions were overprints would (for a fee) be put on stamps where they did not normally belong. Since this was done officially, the OTC stamps could be used postally and are “legit”, so to speak.
Recently I bought (for quite a lot of money) two stamps of the 3r HH on 5 Kopeck stamp, corrected to 5r HH.
The overprints are clear to see, the 5r beeing of type 2. This stamp is part of the second HH monogram issue. Type 1 and Type 3 of the 5r HH overprint were introduced later.
T&A report that a small quantity of the 5 Kopeck stamps were mistakenly overprinted with the 3r HH monogram but the error was detected and no false stamp was allowed to leak out. Even if the quantity was small they obviously decided not to destroy those stamps but to correct the mistake and use them anyways. There must have been a real shortage of stamps since they valued them so much.
As T&A also writes, the 5r HH overprints was applied in a way, that the 5r part of the new monogram was placed gap of the 3r HH monogram and the new HH as less visible as possible. Probably so that the appearance of the corrected stamp was as clean as possible. This matches to the scan of my stamps.
I wonder how scarce this stamp really is. What was the small quantity in numbers? Does someone own a used copy of this stamp? Did it got used? Was it worth the effort to correct this small quantity of stamps?
Ray, it is great to hear from you. I checked the picture of the block of four from you book and made a scan. If you compare the position of the 5 regarding to the horns and bolts my impression is that this is a different stamp. Also the ink at the border seems to be missing on your stamp. It would be something if some of those stamps have found their way to me 🙂
Also the 5 does not touch the 3 like on the lower two stamps.
While browsing a collection a dealer sent me to check I found a couple of forged Erivan cancellations. It is always useful to have some examples in order to train the eye and for comparison.
Type 1 Erivan 30 9 20
The first one was quite prominent in the collection. The date figures are way to big and the ink is unusual, too watery. I found no impression where the type character was readable. Where the date was readable it showed always 30.09.1920. All overprints beneath the cancel are fake too. It looks like the ink of overprint and cancel are identical.
Some forgers love to produce cut out pieces to make the forgery more convincing and probably also more valuable for selling.
Type 2 Kohl-Type Erivan
This forgery matchs the so called Kohl type forgeries. The clear outlines of the overprint and cancel are typical.
Type 3 Smudgy Erivan
The cancel is very unclean and ugly. It is easy to see that this is a forgery. The date figures are wrong too. The overprint is one if the “better” forgeries with the second zero not raised above the “ground line” being the easy giveaway.
Type 4 Thin Erivan
A dangerous forgery. Overall impression: thin lines, watery ink. The date figures show the characteristics of the genuine cancel. The 100r HH overprint is fake too. The 100 Rubles are not bad, just the feet of the “1” tilts to the wrong side, but the HH part is totally different from the genuine one.
Type 5 Unkown Cancel Type k?
At first the cancel does not look that bad. Especially the left part which is easy to see on the plain background.
But the overprint is fake and that means the cancel can not be genuine.
The zeros (“0”) tilt to the wrong side and the second zero is not rised enough. The “r” is too wide open.
Raritan is one of the auction houses were you can find Armenian items almost every time. The current auction #70 hold some interesting lots. Most prominently three collections to which I will give some remarks.
Lot #250 Surcharges on the Soviet issue Collection
Nice stamps with no obvious forgeries. 47 items with starting price 475 USD is 10 USD per item which seems not too expensive. Some uncommon variants are included, also some stamps with cancellation.
Lot #254 Surcharges on the First Constantinople issue Collection
A really interesting Lot with many uncommon stamps, lots of readable cancellations and also my personal highlight: 15 Goldkopeck narrow on 250 Rubles stamp. When Ashford and Tchilingharian wrote there books back in 1960 they did not list this stamp. Ceresa did describe it in his books and today is the first time I have seen one with a genuine looking cancellation. This means the stamp has been used and is not “only” some OTC (over the counter) or back office production that never has seen real postal. I would happily pay 100 USD for this stamp alone. The cancel is also one of the more uncommon ones making the item even more “adorable”. With a starting price of 700 USD for 50 items the price for each item is a bit higher then in Lot 250, but given the amount of interesting and not common stamps there is, to my mind, room for some bidding.
Lot #255 Collection on Album Pages
This collection of 162 stamps is priced with only 200 USD which gives a kind of low rate of 1,23456 (LOL) USD each item. While browsing the pages of the collection I could see a lot of forgeries but also genuine overprints. The low starting price shows the auction house detected this too and decided not to go with some fantasy starting price like some others do from time to time.
All together a good job of Raritan on those lots and I am looking forward to see how much each lot will achieve in the end.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.