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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

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