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Saturday 18 December 2010

Armenia 1921 : Second Yessayan

This is a curious and rather beautiful set (Michel IIIa - IIIr) prepared by the (Y)essayan Printing Works in Constantinople at the same time as the First Yessayan set. The series was intended for use as Obligatory Tax stamps for Famine Relief, along the same lines as those issued in Azerbaijan and Georgia.

There were 16 stamps - eight different designs, each one printed both in grey and in red. As with the First Yessayan set, only some were issued and then only with surcharges.

For these stamps I have only one stockbook, since in all forms they are relatively scarce:

1. Unoverprinted stamps from the Original printing in which there was one sheet for each value. You will normally only find Originals for the stamps which were NOT issued and even then they are scarce. Unoverprinted examples of the issued stamps are rarities and I currently have none in stock. The Michel pricings only make sense as prices for reprints and even then they are low. I sell Reprints at 10 euro each if they are in nice ** condition. But I ask 100 euro for a ** Original, when I can find one. Michel has 2 euro 50 cents ....

2. Stamps with genuine overprints. Of necessity, genuine overprints are only found on stamps of the original printing. Some mint values are reasonably common, notably the "20" surcharge on 5000 r grey. Correspondingly, this stamp in used condition is rare - at least as rare as the "15" on 5000 r red to which Michel gives the highest used valuation

3. First Reprints. Made by Yessayan by re-setting the 8 values onto just two sheets

4. Second Reprints. Made by Yessayan by re-setting all values a second time onto just one sheet

The fact that there are two distinct sets of Reprints explains why there is not just a gradual deterioration in print quality. In addition, First Reprints are on a white paper which is either without gum (about 50%) or with a good white gum. Second Reprints are always gummed and the gum is yellowish, giving the paper a yellowish appearance.

You rarely find se-tenant examples of different reprint values. This is because the sheets were cut up by packet makers in the 1920s and 1930s. I guess it annoyed them that Yessayan did not put equal numbers of each value onto his reprint sheets!

For pictures of the two distinct Reprints in sheets, see Stefan Berger's article in Deutsche Zeitschrift fuer Russland-Philatelie, # 93, November 2010. Each Reprint was made for BOTH grey and red values. I think the print run of the first Reprint was probably bigger than that for the second.

Any surcharge on a Reprint is going to be a Forgery. It's that simple. In a rational world there would be NO forged surcharges on Original stamps, since the Originals without surcharge are much much scarcer than with surcharge. However, people are sometimes badly informed (look at the Michel prices) and there may be Forged surcharges on genuine Original stamps.

5. The Forgery. There is only one recorded Forgery type which is so bad that it seems likely it was made from catalogue illustrations in the 1920s. The gum is really thick and brown and the paper grey brown. These Forgeries should not trouble any serious collector. Curiously, the red forgeries are RARE! Maybe the printer did not have enough red ink to print a decent quantity ...

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