Recently I bought some postcard / cover with cancels from the Caucasus region I found attractive and wanted to add to my cancel collection for later reference. Also useful for documenting used inks and types of devices.
When I received the item I made a high res scan (2400 DPI) and had a look at it on my large size monitor to check the cancels and other details. Next step is checking the literature e.g. Ashford for his remarks on the cancels and serial characters. Then checking the Text on the card itself. Is it some person or organization of importance.
What I did not see on the ebay scan but stuck right to my eyes now was the problem with the cancel on the stamp.
The stamp can not be part of the original card. The cancel does not match. Also the date on the cancels outside (1908) is several years before the date on the stamp (1915).
When contacting the dealer he admitted the fault and asked me how to detect such problems when buying from clients for later reselling.
There are several problems that usual arise with postal items lets discuss some of the most common ones. This one is a nice example for what to look: always check the area of the stamps and cancel:
- Does the ink of the cancel look typical? How does the ink of the cancel compares between parts that are on the stamp versus parts that are on the paper. Be aware that there might be normal differences due to the different materials. For instance when the stamp is chalked the ink cannot penetrate and is often smeared.
- How is the transition of the cancel from stamp to paper and vice a versa? A small gap is normally ok, when not too much pressure was applied. The stamp lies “elevated”. When no part of the ink is on the paper be cautious.
- When the same cancel is applied several times, check for differences between each impression. Keep in mind that the clerk not necessarily re-inks every time. In this case the upper impression was applied first and then without re-inking the second on beneath. Just a bit weaker.
- Look for date figures, serial characters and other striking characters. Forgers often struggle with generating the same distinct font type. Check serifs.
Here is another example, I got from a reader of the blog.
Aside from the fact that the overprints on the stamps are faked, a comparison of the cancels from front to back part shows obvious differences in ink, texture and shape.
Quite obvious when comparing directly, but not so easy with a generic low res scan…
Another interesting example. A postcard going from Delishan Elisavetpol to Nakhichevan-on-Don (do not mistake with Nkhichevan in Armenia).
A nice item with a genuine Armenian overprint none the less. But something is missing.
Why is there only a part of the cancel visible? Again a case of missing stamp. Why was the stamp removed?
- Because the Armenian overprint was covered.
- Because the postcard was sent on 1924 and at that time a generic soviet stamp was used – which kind of devalued the item.
It is not unusual that “old” postal stationaries were used at a later time when the original charge was not valid anymore.
Another general question is: should be there a stamp on the cover / card or not. Normally we expect a track of franking on every item. Some exceptions are:
- mail of army organisations often is free
- mail of specific stately organizations e.g. communist party can be free
- no stamp was at hand and postage due value is written on the item
When no stamps are present, some reason for this must exist.
Here an example where the missing stamp is not so obvious.
You can still see that the paper is damaged where the stamp has been. The frame of the “mesto for stamp” is only partially present. Some effort was put into patching this up and generating a smooth surface.