Alexandropol “b” – genuine or not?

The pictorial stamps and the overprints itself are already  a rich treasure trove. If we put our attention to the cancellations used even more interesting diversities and things to research come to view.

Of course, like with the overprints, sometimes things are not easy. For instance lets have a look at the following cancel:

alexandropol b smallalexandropol b separated small

The town name is clearly Alexandropol (nowadays Gyumri) – without an “Erivan” addendum and  the character is a Cyrillic “b” letter (handwriting style).

b sep

For comparison the Cyrillic alphabet (snippet from Wikipedia).

kyrill arrow

This is the Alexandropol b cancel apparently used at the 28 of February 1920. What makes this stamp special is that it is really, really rare. It is not mentioned in the Tchilinghirian and the early Zakiyan book. The are however descriptions of this cancel in Ashford and the current Zakiyan.

This is the Ashford type 7 cancel drawing (it is made by hand).

ashford alex b type 7

Not much information is added but the following text:

Double circle date stamp of earlier type (Diam. 25 mm. Horiz. lines thin, 7 mm. apart) reading ALEKSANDROPOL / * * b. Impressed in black.

Two type “b” cancels are listed in Zakiyan #30 and #35. Here the corresponding drawings.

zakiyan b 30zakiyan b 35

This alone is already vexing. How can there be two different cancels with the same “numeration” character? Like Ashford, Zakiyan did not use scans or photocopies but hand made drawings as well. This is a problem since sometimes special marks (the dent in the Delishan cancel) are not present and we do not know how accurate distinct characteristics, like position of certain characters and stars are.

Let us take a look at the dimensions of the present cancel.


The outer circle is 28.5 mm wide.


The inner circle is 19.8 mm wide.


The distance between the horizontal bars is 12.3 mm. This is rather much. Normally only 10 mm is found.


The unframed Z is 7 mm long.

Now we can rule out the cancel Ashford described because his cancel is only 25 mm wide. Perhaps this is Zakiyan #35 which is smaller than #30.

When comparing the cancel on the stamp with the drawings more discrepancies are found:

  • the horizintal bars are thick like with the Alexandropol “Zhe” cancel, both Zakiyan and Ashford show thin bars for the “b”
  • the stars are imprinted “weak”, when looking closer they are not weak but just one is present and that one looks exactly like an “x” and not like an asterix (“*”)x sep
  • the inner circle looks rather large – in proportion to the space needed for the date much too big

Sometimes it can help to check the overprint. If that one is fake, the cancel is most likely fake too.

Z compare

I checked my collection and found two overprints which are alike. The second one is to small to be the same one. While I am certain the two other ones are genuine, I am not 100% sure about the present one.

When checking Tchilinghirian I would say the most similarity is with the E.18 type. This is most likely the inner part of the E3 framed Z.

tch fig 50

So far I have never seen another Alexandropol “b” cancel.  With all said and done so far, I think this cancel is doubtful, most likely fake. It is vexing that the appearance is so clean and the ink looks like the real thing.

Does anyone of the readers got an Alexandropol “b” cancel? If yes, can I get a scan?

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2 Responses to Alexandropol “b” – genuine or not?

  1. Ivo Steijn says:

    I can’t comment on the Aleksandropol postmark although it does look a little dubious to me, and too clean for any Armenia! How does it compare to the fake cancels described by Trevor Pateman for adding stamps to (stampless) official mail?
    There is a lot of precedent for there being two postmarks with the same serial letter but different sizes. I believe the smaller size postmark was used on receipts.

  2. Pingback: Forged cover on ebay | Stamps Of Armenia

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