Gärtner 43th Auction – Some Remarks

It is always nice seeing Armenian items in auctions. In this auction you can find several lots containing single items, small sets and also large collections. Among them the following lots which are not difficult to assign as forged – if you are familiar with how the genuine overprints look.

All show a similar kind of forgery. Some of the basic stamps are also forgeries. I wish they would provide better scans. There is room for improvement. Other auction house do better.

This set has always been a popular target for forgers. I guess because it seems easy to just use some random number cancel and red ink. The auction house has already withdrawn the lots so there is not danger anymore.

I quote the description text from one of the lots: “An absolute gem.”

Her another – well known and older – forgery. Beware.

ex SG. 36c/44d
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Fake covers with Erivan ‘d’ cancel in Berlin auction

In the last entry about the fake covers in the Raritan auction was a reduced cover with a forged Erivan ‘d’ cancel. Apparently that is not the only case a reduced cover was pimped up. Here are two reduced covers offered by the German auction house Georg Bühler which is located in Berlin. The starting prices are quite low, which makes me wonder, if they knew something is wrong with the items…

Item 1: cover from Erivan to Tiflis 11.11.1921

The cover is reduced at the right side where the original stamp was most likely located. The stamps that can be seen were added later by the forger. Also, war charity stamps were not used in postal transportation in Armenia. At least, so far no usage has been documented. That would make this a real rarity.

The 100r HH overprint is obviously fake.

The cancel is a rather dangerous forgery of the Erivan ‘d’.

Item 2: cover from Erivan to Tiflis 22.11.1920

The cover itself looks genuine. It bears the well known address of Mr. Serebrakian. The overprints on the stamp are most likely genuine – no obvious or crude forgery is present.

Again the cover is reduced at the right side. Most likely to get rid of the original franking. Perhaps it was damaged or a collector had removed the stamps… All present stamps were added later.

The forged Erivan ‘d’ cancel.


The forged cancels are good efforts on part of the forger. I consider them quite dangerous. Shape and ink are well done.

Covers need careful examinations. All parts – paper, address, franking – need to be checked. If something looks fishy – like the cover being reduced at the place where the original franking was most likely located – and then a very colorful franking has been added – the alarm bells should ring.

Extra hint: the genuine Erivan ‘d’ cancel shows one (!) dot between month and year.

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Raritan Auction #79

Again there are several lots with Armenian stamps and items in their auction. Here are my thoughts on some of them. Let us start with the newspaper items. I am always quite skeptical when I see them.

The newspaper with the Alexandropol Zhe cancel

This time with a better scan than usual. It allows checking more details.

The cancel shows the 10.02.1923 as date. Stamps with this 5(k) overprint where used at this time. Tariff is below the rate of letters at this time.

I do not like the ink. It is very untypical. The horizontal bars on the left cancel look very unclean, especially where they meet the inner circle right under the “k” of Aleksandropol. Also the “noise” (small dots) all over upper part of the right cancel. It looks like printed with a modern device and then the left one “improved” by hand (painting).

A check with the real cancel reveals some mistakes where the second star “*” is located. The small areas that do not match could be due to not using a scan from my calibrated device in the same resolution.

Conclusion: The cancel is forged. The forger used a genuine examples of the cancel as base.

The newspaper with the Erivan cancel

A low res scan.

The interesting part: the two stamps with the cancel. The resolution is way to bad to be helpful. Even the overprint is only a heap of large pixels. The date cannot be read. The description of the item gives 1920 as year.

Conclusion: A very doubtful item. My guess: an Erivan “d” cancel which was forged a lot.

The reduced Erivan to Tiflis letter

Again a low res scan.

The stamps are with a date from the 16.12.1920. At least the left one. I do not like the overprints, but the resolution is very low. The ink of the cancels is not too bad (see newspaper item) but I still think this is a forged cancel. On the left stamp the ink of the last character of the city name goes right into the outer border. A tariff of 125 rubles is way too much for the end of 1920. In December 1920 Soviet Armenia was established and they forbade the use of Dashnak stamps.

The receiver cancel looks genuine but no date can be seen. Perhaps the reducing of the letter helped to achieve this, perhaps it is random.

Conclusion: The stamps do not belong to the letter: Fake.

The late 1920 Erivan to Tiflis letter

Another low res scan.

This is not one of the usual cancels. The date figures look totally different in comparison to the other Erivan cancels. The serial character is not readable. The only possible match would be “g”. This is a very scarce cancel. I do not have enough examples of the Erivan “g” cancel. If someone can provide scans – I would be quite grateful.

The stamps add up to a 250 rubles franking which is way too much for end of 1920. It all looks kind of messy but since the scan is low res there cannot much to be done. I do not like the overprints. The date of the receiver cancel looks also a bit fishy, especially the “20”.

Conclusion: Fake item.

The lilac 100r HH overprint

This overprint was not done in lilac. The ink is not similar to other lilac overprints. The shape looks good though. The scan is bad.

Conclusion: Forged.

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Some comments to the Raritan items from #78

Newspaper with stamps

The stamps are added and the cancel is forged.

Postcard with overprint and added stamp

And the enlarged fragment

Those cards are not too uncommon since Serebrakian produced a lot which he sent to his brother in Tiflis. This card goes to batum and makes a good impression at first. An added 20 Kopek stamp was usually used to make up the 50 Kopeck tariff. But a closer look raises some concerns. A late April usage is rare. Especially when used with small size framed Z overprints. The ink/color of the framed Z is totally different from the genuine ones. The Aleksandropol cancel looks not bad but I could not find the nick in the outer ring above the “k” of Aleksandropol in any of the other imprints of this cancel in my collection.  The Romeko signature has been forged and as this is not a safe sign.

I have serious doubts about this item. A deeper analysis requires the item itself, a scan is not enough.

Serebrakian Letter


This one looks like the typical Serebrakian covers.

Framed Z on 1 Rubel stamps – group

All overprints are fake (D.1d)

Romanov stamps cover

I wonder why there is no enlarged fragment of the stamp area. Probably because the overprints are fake. At this time a letter would need at least a 50 Rubles franking.

The rest

There are also several really nice items listed. I especially like the Paris issue book of errors – at a moderate starting price.

Take care with the overprinted Romanov and War charity stamps. I have seen forged overprints and cancels there.

I do not like the collection. A first look showed a lot of forged overprints and stamps (pictorial issues).

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Plate varieties of the 500 ruble stamp of the First Essayan issue

Some of the stamps of the first pictorial issue spot some very distinctive plate varieties. So far not much is described in the literature in detail. Only the “old” Zakiyan/Saltikov book lists some varieties. Included are the basic variations like more or less pronounced “secret marks” as well as several minor abnormalities (small spots etc.) and some of the striking “specialties”. While checking my material I found several small abnormalities as well as one new large and striking example and some candidates or in between types. Since the small variations are not so interesting, quite common and sometimes hard to distinguish from random printing side effects I will present only the ones listed by Zakiyan and the “large” ones I found additionally.

One of the basic variations Zakiyan lists – I do not consider them plate varieties – correlate to the four different types of the top left corner. As there are:

  1. clean and closed frame corner
  2. corner prolonged to the left
  3. small gap in corner
  4. large gap in corner

Here some examples. You can find all these variations together with different characteristics of the remaining stamp. Also in between sizes of the gap.

And a “perfect” corner.

The second basic variation Zakiyan deals with the lower left corner where often a line protrudes downwards. Here an example of both cases.

Now on to the real plate varieties.

Plate Variety No 1 :  Extra strikes on left border

This is a nice and easy to spot variety. Zakiyan only shows the top most prolongation of the corner but I found they always come with the additional strikes below.

Plate Variety No 2 :  Broken “5”

The top of the digit “5” is damaged and shows a typical scraggy look.

Plate Variety No 3:  Protrusions at the value tablet

Two distinct protrusions at the left border of the value tablet and a characteristic damage to the “5” are the signature of this variety.

Plate Variety No 4:  Square blob left of value tablet

There is a blob in the shape of a square to the left of the value tablet, together with a frame gap. Additionally another gap on the top frame and a blob above the ornament complete this type. Zakiyan describes the top blob above the ornament as a gap (also has a picture of this) but all my examples show the blob.

Plate Variety No 5:  Protrusion at top, above the ornament

I found that one only on the other shade/color of the stamp. There is also a gap in the frame, just below the value tablet at the left side. But since I could not find more examples it is not clear if this is random or if it belongs to this variety.

Plate Variety No 6:  Gap in frame left of value tablet

With typical break to the outside (like to be seen on the Zakiyan image) but open corner gap – Zakiyan describes this with closed corner.

Plate Variety No 7:  Antenna left of value tablet

Some blobs or “antenna” just below the corner gap.

Plate Variety No 8:  Bull horns break through pillar

Typical blob at the bottom left corner looking a bit like the bull went thought the pillars with its horn.

Plate Variety No 9:  Lightning strikes

A strong line goes though the major part of the right part of the picture. I consider this a major variation type because it very eye-catching and also large.

This is what a whole stamp looks like.

Plate Variety No 10:  Boulder on right peak

A large boulder resides on top of the right mountain peak. Also quite striking and the second major variety in my opinion. The arrows point to typical blobs of ink that are always present together with the boulder.

Plate Variety No 11:  “Missing boulder” on right peak

The same as before with all three typical blobs, just the boulder has rolled down and is no longer resting on the top of the peak. Like a sub-variety of the one before.

Plate Variety No 12:  Comet over mountain

A comet shows over the right slope of the mountain. There are also two characteristic blobs on the left border coming along. This one is not listed in Zakiyan.

Possible Plate Variety No 12:  Tree at left mountain side

There is also damage to the “5” which looks exactly like the variety described earlier. I am not sure yet if this is a real variety. I need to see more material of this.

Possible Plate Variety No 13:  Tree before the middle of the mountain

Another striking variant. Again this is something I need to see more material in order to be sure to list this as plate variety.


The stamps of the first pictorial issue offer a lot of interesting detail and there are yet many things to discover and check. Happy hunting for those big and nice varieties.

Also some questions remain as how often do those variants occur? At which position in the sheet?

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Covers at Raritan – some first thoughts

No 77 of the Raritan auction lists some interesting items. Here are my thoughts to each one.

1. The picture postcard with the early date

The picture postcard looks quite clean but I do not like the framed Z. They look very untypical. The tariff could be ok – 30 Kopeck for postcard just matches with the 30 Kop overprint on the postcards that were made in November. However, the framed Z overprinting started in November-December 1919 with first the small types (E.1) and also at the beginning in violet ink. While it is not too hard to find a postcard with framed Zs in early 1920, finding them from December 1919 is not that easy and a November PC would be really difficult. And then at the start of November… Extremely unlikely. Another (bad) sign is the first stop after the day of the date which is not on any other Erivan “d” cancels I have seen.

2. The Erivan to Batum cover

The next one is a cover with a franking of 8 Rubles. The tariff for letter was 5 Rubles in March 1920. Registered is most likely twice as much so this is a bit in between. The Erivan “d” cancel (most likely “d”) shows the correct stop after the month and no stop after the day which is correct. The overprints on the stamp are looking good. The Batum cancel also shows the correct (typical) gap and ink .

3. The Alexandropol cover with the combined overprints

The next cover was sent from Alexandropol on the 29.8.2?. This should be a “0” since the inland letter rate was 10 Rubles from October 1920 and went to 25 Rubles in November 1920. I would expect this to be higher at the end of October but we have no exact dates here. Kars fell to the Turks at the 30th of October and Alexandropol a week later.

The cancel on the frontside looks a bit uneven (6 o’clock) but the resolution is really bad.

The backside shows another cancellation and two stamps with combined overprints. Again the resolution is really bad, but I do not like the looks of the framed Z and the 5.

4. The newspaper item

The last item shows the notorious newsletter item with the added stamp and the forged cancellation. The shape of the serial character is the easiest to spot give away.

A much better analysis could be mad with a better scan, for a solid check I would need the items in my hands.

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One of the rare stamps of the Ruble overprint Issue

Recently I got a hold off quite a rare stamp. But let us zoom in from the outside, starting with the Dashnak overprints. During the first Republic, when the Dashnak government ruled the newly independent country, the overprinting process started – with the exception of the 30 and 60 Kopeck overprints – with the so called HP overprints monograms with no face value. They served two purposes:

  1. Make a stamp an Armenian stamp so it could be distinguished from other Zsarist stamps – this was necessary to prevent loss of revenue when stamps from outside were brought into the country (same like with the Ukraine tridents)
  2. Change the value of the stamp. A 1 Kopeck stamp now as a 1 Ruble stamp, a 50 Kopeck stamp a 50 Ruble stamp etc. – this was necessary  to cope with the high inflation

A bit later the inflation asked for even higher values and the answer were the Ruble overprints – also called HH overprints. The new thing was  the added value to the Monogram. Now a 3.5 Ruble stamp could be a 100 Ruble stamp.

The process of the development of these overprints was quite fast and went through several iterations. “T and A” and Ceresa describe seven different “sub-issues” of the HH overprints. One of the iterations is the so called “Emergency 10 Ruble Surcharges” issue – also the Fourth Issue.

The historical background is given through the invasion of Armenia by the Turks. Kars had fallen and the inflation accelerated again. The inland letter rate doubled from 5 to 10 Rubles in October 1920. In comparison, Georgia and Azerbaijan waited with this step til February 1921. Suddenly a lot of 10 Ruble stamps were needed. In order to address this need the Postal Administration did two things:

  1. use additional values (15, 20 and 70 Kopeck stamps) for surcharging with 10r
    (the lower values were mostly used up at this point)
  2. use a new second 10 Ruble handstamp (type 2) to speed up the overprinting process.

In a first stage the 10r overprint was added to stamps which already had a HP monogram – framed of unframed Z. A second stage followed where in a “two stage process” on fresh unoverprinted stamps (remains from other post offices that arrived in Erivan) were used. In the second stage only the new type 2 handstamp was used.

In stage one the following Kopeck values were used: 15, 20, 25, 35, 50, 70 and the 4 Kopeck Romanov stamp. In stage two the same stamps and also some quantities of 4, 5 and 20/14 Kopeck stamps came into use. All stamps only the perforated type.

The interesting fact here is that just one type of the Romanov stamps was used. The Emergency issue is most likely not philatelic inspired and this proofs that the 4 Kopeck Romanov stamp was part of the stock of the Armenian post offices.

All the stamps of the Emergency issue are quite rare. The two stage (stage two) 10r type 2 overprint on the 4 Kopeck Romanov stamps is one of the rarest stamps of them.

The overprint is a combination of the large monogram from the 1r HH handstamp and the 10 (r) type 2 (HH) handstamp.

A question still unsolved is which of the overprints in the two stage process was applied first.

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Repairs – forger or plastic surgeon?

Sometimes stamps or covers and postcards are damaged. Stamps can get tears, lose dents or even larger parts of their paper. Often parts of the gum are missing, disturbed or even all gum is lost. Postcards (also covers etc.) often find themselves with stamps detached when collectors decided they wanted to collect just the stamp. This was quite common at the beginning times of stamp collecting.

There are people who want to remedy this situation. Some just want to have a nice looking stamp in their album. Others want to obtain higher prices when selling a nice postcard.

Either way, it is important to check the items you buy. Here are two examples. A stamp I bought myself on Delcampe. The scan of the dealer was so bad, the repair was not visible. Confronted with a good scan, the dealer refunded the full price. The other example is a postcard where a fellow collector provided me with the scans.

Here is the stamp.


A very nice example of the 10r type 2 overprint – the so-called emergency “sub-issue” – completed with a small HH monogram. You can see a part of the cancel frame of the handstamp on the upper left corner of the stamp. The backside got a hinge remainder as well as some pencil drawings. The overprint is genuine.

At some point the stamp lost a larger part of the lower right corner. At the front side a part of another stamp was applied on top. At the backside the repair was concealed by a hinge fragment completely glued to the stamp. This is a rather crude repair and if you check the stamp carefully quite obvious. Since the market value of uncertified single stamps is not so high, I guess this was a beauty operation of a collector. Definitely not professional work.

And the postcard.

The postcard shows a 30 Kop overprint combined with a large framed Z. A 50 Kopeck stamp with a lilac large framed Z is added. There is an Aleksandropol cancel – serial character probably “sh” – and two Erivan d cancels. The dates are 16. or 26.3.1920 for the Aleksandropol cancel and 24.3.1920 for the Erivan cancel. Furthermore the following points are remarkable:

  1. Some kind of cancel or text was there and someone tried to remove it. Reminds me a bit of the war censor markings but this makes no sense at 1920.
  2. The first line reads “Aleksandropol” and this is the destination of the card. This suggests the date on the Aleksandropol should be later then 24.3.
  3. Some script: 700 and 2940?
  4. A very wrong looking “20” – shape and ink vary in comparison to the cancel on the postcard

I have marked the two most striking faults.

  1. The inner circle does not close – there is a gap. (See Arrow)
  2. The two marked “2” digits look totally different (Circles)


The two Erivan cancels on the postcard suggest that there was a stamp on the postcard. The tariff was 50 Kopecks at this time – so it was most likely a 20 Kopeck stamp. This stamp was lost and the forger added a new stamp. The missing part of the Erivan cancel was then artificially added to the stamp. It is possible that a part of the Erivan cancel was already on the stamp and only the date (“20”) was added. This would explain why the forger used the 50 Kopeck stamp which is too much than what was needed at this time. The item looks not philatelically inspired – there is a lot of text on the backside.

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The postal stationary of Armenia

Together with the first overprints on stamps the Armenian postal office also overprinted postal stationary. While the stamps, starting with the k60k overprints are well known, the stationary are not. It even took a couple of years before the stationary reached the the western collectors. As a result they avoided the first years of the massive forging efforts and so far not much forgeries are known. The stationary itself are also not available in abundance and you need to search for them.

At the end of 1919 the base Armenian postal stationary was produced by applying a “30. kop” overprint. This matches the postal rate for postcards and correspondents well to the 60 Kopeck postal rate for letters that were addressed by the k60k overprinted stamps. Not much later the stationary received an addition overprint, a framed Z. Apparently not all were used up and the remaining items got a 5r HH rubles overprint. This leaves us with three types:

  1. plain “30. kop” overprint
  2. combined “30. kop” and framed Z (type E6)
  3. combined “30. kop” and HH monogram (5r HH)

Here two pictures of #2 used and unused.

The used postal stationary is from the Bob Taylor collection. So far I have seen about 10 used type 2 and all of them were Serebrakian made.

Right now I am in contact with the Michel catalog guys so these items will be listed in the postal staionary catalog (Michael Ganzsachen Katalog).

I still need scans and data about the other types or none Serebrakian type 2. If you can provide scans I would be deeply grateful.

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Forgeries at Raritan #74

There are some forgeries among the items presented in the current auction.

The first two items got fake overprints. The Jemchouchin signature is probably faked too.

Both stamps were not available at the time in the post office stocks. They can only exist as so called “over the counter” productions.  If genuine, a very rare stamp. In this case both overprints are crude forgeries. You can find posts on my blog with details about the genuine overprint.

This is one of the typical “I got old paper from a worthless cover, lets add some stamp paint some cancels and see how much we can get for it”. The Erivan cancel is such a crude forgery, no professional auction house should have a problem seeing this.

Another of the “lets us some old paper I found” forgery. This time the 1K manuscript overprint is forged as well as the cancel. I would expect a professional stamp dealer to be able to spot this.

In the description you can read “reprints”. This is correct. This also means, those stamps are forgeries. They are worthless and should not appear in an auction. Same story with the sheets in the lot before.

Collections are always dangerous. In this case, and there are three more pages almost all overprints are forged. Perhaps 5 to 10 stamps are genuine.

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