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Sunday, 24 April 2011

More about single handstamps: Romania 1862 handstruck issue

I blogged recently about how multiples make single handstamps more interesting. Below is a complete sheet of Romania 1862 issue, 6 Parale in red on ordinary paper. Click on the image to enlarge and see how the clerk worked. Where did he begin? How often did he ink? and so on.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Collecting Single Handstamps: Armenia, Ukraine

Between 1919 and 1923, EVERY issued Armenian stamp is overprinted with a single handstamp - framed Z, unframed Z, rouble surcharges, Gold Kopeck surcharges, Transcaucasian rouble surcharges.
Likewise, in one Ukrainian district - Podillia - all the Trident overprints issued in 1919 - 20 were prepared with single handstamps.

How should single handstamps be collected? Wherever possible, they should be collected in small multiples and, if possible, in horizontal strips. This makes it possible to see variations in the appearance of the handstamp. Normally, one can also see how the clerk who did the work set about his task.

Look at the block of 25 Armenian stamps below. (Click on the image to enlarge). The clerk has re-inked his handstamp for every impression and has applied it with great care. Why? In this case, probably because the 25 r on 50 kopeck combination was not an officially scheduled one; these stamps have been prepared at the request of a collector or dealer or someone simply about to leave the country and trying to convert their cash into something of value. Such items prepared by favour are normally called "counter overprints". In this particular case, the block of 25 provides solid information about the characteristics of the metal 25r handstamp, though when the handstamp is applied using another ink pad, it can look very different.

Now look at the block of 10 Podillia type XIVb on the 1 kopeck imperforate. Here the clerk has overprinted the top row from right to left (he was probably left-handed)having inked his wooden handstamp for the first strike and then used it a total of five times. Then he re-inked the handstamp and proceeded from left to right, again five times. Sometimes, this clerk, working fast, struck six times on five stamps, producing double overprints (listed in the Bulat catalog): such double overprints are particularly associated with type XIVb and presumably with this one clerk. Podillia Tridents were applied in a carefully supervised workshop: inverted, missing or double overprints are uncommon - surprising given the tens of thousands of stamps overprinted.

So this block of 10 is already much more informative than would be a single stamp.

Of course, it's more expensive to collect like this, but even if only some cheaper values are collected this way, it will enhance a collection of single handstamp overprints.

These items are for sale

Armenia: Chassepot Proofs without figure of value

Some years ago, I bought a collection which contained four unusual Chassepot proofs. They were single Die Proofs of the Eagle design but without figure of value. They were from Original rather than Reprint material and suggest that the figures of value were plugged into a single plate, and changed for the printing of each value.

One of my Proofs was in black, and is now in a collection in Russia; one was in the issued blue colour of the 10r - I recently let this Proof go to a collection in Germany; one was in the issued brown colour of the 1r - this went to an English collection.

Now I just have the Proof in the issued colour, green, of the 3r. The fact that three of the Proofs were in issued colours leads me to think that these Die Proofs must exist in all the issued colours - red and lilac in addition to those I have handled.

My remaining example is illustrated below with a stamp from the Original printing on the left and a reprint on the right. Click on the image to enlarge it.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Paul Melik-Pacha / Pachaev / Pasher / Pachaian / Pachayan: A Discovery

In all the histories of Armenian philately, the name of Paul Melic-Pacha [ to use for a moment his own spelling when he signed sheets of stamps ] occurs in association with the last Dashnak issues of Armenia at the end of 1920 and in early 1921. He was the principal dealer / speculator who remained in business after Souren Serebrakov / Serebrakian left Yerevan in August or September 1920.

I have several times attempted to find out more about him. Now I have a breakthrough. Just as Serebrakian originally used the Russified form of his name (Serebrakov - as on the first dealer handstamp he used), so did Paul Melik-P originally de-Armenianise his name - he was a Pachaian / Pachayan. This I discovered from the letter card illustrated below, addressed to him in Leipzig in 1923, and which I have recently acquired.

I speculate as follows: Paul Melik-P may have been an Armenian originally resident in Baku, not Yerevan. If he was the following is also possible:

Paul Melik-P was responsible for late productions of Dashnak "Z" (unframed) overprints. These are Ceresa's E18 and are quite easy to identify from the fluid grey ink. A large number of stamps thus overprinted were officially re-cycled in 1923and overprinted with the Transcaucasian Star and used in Azerbaijan (principally). The 50 kopeck perforated with "Z" and Star is the most common of these stamps.

It is normally assumed that the supplies of the "Z" overprinted stamps originated from the Yerevan Post Office, as remainders from the Dashnak period, but it seems to me that they could have been seized from Melik-P personally either in Yerevan or in Baku.

One sometimes hears the story that Melik-P was imprisoned by the Bolsheviks, which may well be true. But clearly he was able to leave the Caucasus. What happened to him next? Information please!

Click on the images to enlarge them.

Russia's Second (1990s) Inflation

When I began dealing in the early 1990s, the most interesting thing I did was to get quantities of office-to-office and factory-to-factory mail direct from several republics of the former Soviet Union. Most of it I sold at the time, but I held back a few items. Here are a couple I came across today - really nice inflation covers, as interesting as those from the 1920s. Click on the image and use your Magnifier to enlarge