Working with the ARTAR Catalog – Odds and Errors : Part 1

While working with the Artar catalog I encountered many odd things, that made me stop and thinking and also – sic – a lot of outright errors. While no work of this complexity is without faults the sheer quantity of the dubious and erroneous findings is a big problem. The catalog itself is a work of high quality publishing-wise. Good paper, many high quality pictures, nice structure. So while the outer presence builds an image of a serious work, the contents fails to follow this quality standards: research-wise and in correctness.

I fear, that many collectors and – perhaps even worse – sellers and auction houses will use the catalog to check for genuine overprints and to calculate prices. They are bound to make mistakes that way.

Lets have a look at some of the problems.

Here are my findings on page 16.

First Problem: The 60 kopek hand-surcharged in violet. Lets ignore the problem of cataloging extremely rare hand surcharges.  Can we consider them regular issues? Also, how can I be certain this hand-surcharge is genuine? Are there enough characteristics? Do I have covers with those stamps that document the usage? Anyway. Lets have a look at the text to the left:

Prior to declaring independence on May 28,
1918 and forming the Republic of Armenia,
the stamps of Russian Empire were in circula-
tion in Eastern Armenia. In fact, the circulation
of those stamps continued even after the
independence and until July of 1919.

In July of 1919, according to a resolution of
the Armenian Postal/Telegraphic Department,
special metallic and rubber overprints were
produced to prevent the use of illegally
imported stamps. As such, two different over-
prints were used on Russian Empire stamps
and postal stationary:
-“30 kop” overprint on stamps and postal station-
ary with denomination of “3 kop” for postcards
-“60 kop” overprint on stamps with denomina-
tion of “1 kop” for letters.

This is basically identically to what Tchilinghirian and Ceresa are writing. Btw, none of both mention hand-surcharges for this period. Overprinting czarist stamps with overprints started in November. On the stamp the date of the cancel is readable.

The date reads: 30.3.19. This is much too early. Chances this overprint is genuine are almost zero. Even if the extremely improbable case would be true and they made hand surcharges at this time, this stamps is not enough evidence, to list this “issue” as genuine.

Second Problem: A new, formerly unknown overprint.

This overprint is not described before. Neither Tchilinghirian, nor Zakiyan or Ceresa list this overprint. I asked fellow collectors and they too could not find this in there (vast) collections. On what base did the author decide to list this type? I don’t know. Without background information, examples of covers or descriptions in archive texts, this is not valid for me.

Third problem: Odd Aleksandropol cancel

I am generally very cautious regarding the “news paper items”.  In this case I stumbled over the shape of the script letter “zhe”.

Normally the script letter is tilted – like its written in italic font. Here is an example.

Compare yourself. Is this the same cancel?

Postscript: According to Tchilinghirian the k60k stamps were introduced in October 1919. I read 29.8.1919 as date on the cancel.

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