Rare stamps of the first Essayan pictorial set

If you want to collect all stamps from this set, you face not much hurdles. The most obvious problem are the forgeries and the reprints. Once you got that sorted out the stamps are quite common and you wont need to spend much money. But unlike the stamp sets from other countries there are some exceptions and specialties.

Perforation – Scarce!

The first thing you probably notice is, that the perforated stamps are somewhat more rare than the unperforated ones. It is still not a real problem with the exception of the 25.000 rubles brown. So far I have not seen a single genuine copy of that stamp. Only a handful of sightings were reported so far. My estimation is that perhaps less than ten (10!) copies exist worldwide. While I suppose there are less perforated stamps because it simply took effort and machines to provide perforations I do not have an explanation why the highest value of the set is so rare.

25000 rubles brown small

Please let me know if you own this stamp perforated.

Stone – Retouched!

Another interesting fact is that for one design the stone (for the printing) was retouched and had changes to the design. Both versions feature the same hidden or so-called secret marks of the genuine print so it can be assumed that the same stone was changed rather than a new one prepared. It is unknown why the design of just this stamp was changed. This stamp was not used later for overprinting. The first version of the stamp is quite rare and so far not reprints or forgeries are known. Both versions exist perforated and unperforated.

The early rare version – the areas of interest are the small part of the sky in the top left corner and the large “blank” area on the water.15000 rubles design1 ROI arrows smallThe later and common version.

15000 rubles design2 small

Small addition: this is a very clean and as such early print which is also kind of rare but let’s stick to the major variations. As you can see when comparing to the early version: the sky is now clean, but the water is more “troubled”.

Color – more than a shade!

While there are many different shades of each denomination, one value comes in two really different colors.

The 500 rubles value comes in brownish lilac500 rubles brown lilac small


and in pure or dark lilac.

500 rubles lilac small

These I consider shades of the same color. The real treat comes here.

20k black serifs on 500 rose unperf_1

This strikes me as a different color: meaning the difference is far above what one would call a different shade. As you can see the basic stamp was used for overprinting. While I know of unoverprinted rose stamps, I do not own one. The rose variation is far more rare than their lilac counterparts.

In addition to these main variations exist different shades and – while several images of one design were carved into one stone – different imprints regarding the position of the transfer set. Some of them  are described in Zakiyan.

Beneath the “normal” set exists color proofs of the 25000 rubles value, design proofs of the artists (all designs in black) and apparently one sheet of each value (with the exception of one) were printed on chalk paper.

All together a rich base for the collector to go hunting.

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2 Responses to Rare stamps of the first Essayan pictorial set

  1. 25 000 brown perforated – Yes, this is a very rare stamp, probably the rarest of regular issue stamps. I had a block 4 twenty years ago from the Tchilingirian – Ceresa collection and one copy since then

    There is also a shade on the 250 roubles in lilac-blue or violet-blue, much paler than the regular dark blue. I have only seen this stamp mint and maybe three or four copies of the shade.

    The stamps on chalky paper appear regularly in auction. In contrast, the black Artist’s Proofs are almost never seen

  2. Dr. Ray Ceresa says:

    I agree with most of the comments of this blog which re covered in my Forgery Guide No. 14/15 in which on page 20 I illustrate a late printing which is perforated alongside an example of the reprint. I doubt that the double tete-beche sheet was perforate due to the difficulty of handling such a sheet. My opinion is that just one sheet of 100 was perforated hence its rarity. My single copy went with my collection to the Moscow specialist.

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