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Wednesday 31 March 2010

Fabergé's Fiscal Collection

It is not widely known that Agathon Fabergé began collecting Russian fiscals around 1900 and that Oleg Fabergé continued the collection. It was never properly written up or exhibited but it was vast. At some point, much or all of it passed to the Finnish collector B.-E. Saarinen. From him, a prominent English collector obtained a great deal of material and the remainders appear to have passed to one Finnish collector.

Recently, I have been able to acquire quantities of this Fabergé material from both the English and the Finnish collector. As with the Fabergés' better-known Zemstvo collections, there is both common material in abundance and rarities - sometimes also in abundance. Agathon clearly enjoyed privileged access to state offices and, as a result, scattered through the collection there are mint (gummed) copies of revenue stamps which were not on sale to the public as well as ungummed copies which may well have been taken from proof sheets.

Agathon's pencilled notes on the stamps start around 1900 and the names of his suppliers overlap with those of his Zemstvo suppliers: Withy, Peto, Roussin and so on.

I will have some of this material with me at ANTVERPIA 2010 and again in May at PHILATEX EXTRA in London.

Forging a Postmark: How Not to Do It

Recently I examined an exhibit collection of Russian "For the Postman" stamps and court covers. I did not like the look of one item. Supposedly, it showed a rare (unique?) example of the 15 kopeck general Fiscal with the red "For the Postman" overprint omitted. But the cancellation looked wrong. The ink was too lacquer-like for a Russian cancellation of the period, as was obvious from the adjoining cancellation on a regular 7 kopeck Imperial adhesive. When I removed the cover from its plastic holder, I needed no more proof: a complete purple impression of the doubtful postmark had transferred to the plastic! The forger's ink had never even dried properly!

It's not always that easy!


I have been a specialist dealer for Russian and East European Philately since the early 1990s. I started out selling New Issues of the new republics which emerged from the former Soviet Union, including locals and provisionals, but since then I have moved back in time and now handle very little post - 1950s material.

This Blog will allow me to post comments on topics of current interest: auctions, exhibitions, forgeries, new additions to my own stock. Let's see what happens!