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Monday 31 October 2011

Kharkiv Tridents and Dzenis Reprints

Click on Images to enlarge

Most Trident collectors have heard of "Dzenis" Reprints and they are separately listed in Bulat's catalog. Dzenis was a Riga stamp dealer who, I guess, was able to travel to Bolshevik Kharkiv during the Bolshevik occupation of Riga in 1919. The reprints made for him had postal validity.

Sometimes Dzenis reprints are on different basic stamps from original Trident overprints and so are easily distinguished. But when they are on the same basic stamps, they are not always easy to distinguish - but Bulat catalog values are often very different.

In Dr Seichter's 1960 pamphlet "Bezirk Charkiw" he discusses how to distinguish originals and reprints.

He also illustrates [ Tafel VII, #16] the irregular block illustrated above. It is believed that this Kharkiv III overprint made from a single handstamp was applied to 2 kopeck imperforate stamps intended to uprate 3 kopeck postal stationery cards. The ink on this block is very black, uneven, and oily: it penetrates to the back of the stamps. This is typical of Original printings. This stamp is Bulat 753, catalogued at $100 each

Also in Dr Seichter's collection was the quarter sheet with a typed note attached. Unfortunately, we do not know to what "gleicher Art" refers but I guess it means "Reprint" - and on the back of this block, Ron Zelonka has pencilled "ND" [Neudruck = Reprint]. So this is Bulat 769 catalogued at $10. The ink is matt, greyish and does not penetrate to the back of the stamps. This is typical of most Reprints but not all. As important in this case, the Handstamp used is not the same as the IIIg used on the originals. And the shade of the basic stamp is different.

Friday 21 October 2011

1918 Lviv Issue Cover

Readers will be pleased to know I have a new scanner and editing suite which allows me to crop images. No more thumbnails ...
Here is my first attempt top offer you better quality images

Wednesday 19 October 2011

Kyiv I Broken Tridents: Seichter and Bulat

I have recently added to my stock of Broken Tridents - I bought Lot 84 in the Zelonka sale [ unsold during the auction; I paid the Start price after the auction].

Looking at what I have, I realise that the Seichter and Bulat listings are different. Bulat adds to Seichter's list, as one would expect, but there are errors and omissions.

Seichter lists a red overprint on the 7 kopeck, pricing it as 120 DM either mint or used. I now have three copies with normal and inverted overprints, all CTO.

Bulat omits this overprint, though he lists other red overprints. Had he listed it, it would be # 69a in his catalog.

In my holding, the 35 kopeck perforate is as common as the 3, 4 and 5 kopeck values. But Bulat prices it at $40 mint and $35 used. All my copies are used. I checked with Seichter. Seichter prices it at 3 DM for used only [ mint unknown].I think that there is a mistake in the Bulat listing and, in proportion to his other valuations, the 35 kopeck should merit only a few dollars [But see further comments below]. Whether it exists mint should also be investigated.

I don't have any copies of the 50 or 70 kopeck perforated though Bulat gives these the lowest of all valuations, 20 cents each. I checked back to Seichter. He makes the 50 kopeck an unpriced rarity [ - - ] known only mint. He puts 10 DM on the 70 kopeck mint, but has no used listing.

Clearly, we have a a problem - specifically, yet another problem with the Bulat catalog. The valuations on his #76, 77, 78 must be regarded as typographical errors.

For all the Kyiv I special types [ Bulat 62 - 145] his pricings are generally modest. But so too are Seichter's. This no doubt reflects their sense that these are purely philatelic productions. But it is also the case that most of these Special Types are very scarce.

When I tried, maybe ten years ago, to get some from Ron Zelonka, he was very reluctant to part with any and wanted a very good price for what he sold me. He could see that his own holdings [made public in Lots 77, 81 and 84 of the Zelonka sale] were really quite small.

Inverted Overprints from Handstamps: the problem of catalog listing

When you are collecting overprints made from handstamps, does it make sense to collect inverted overprints? And should catalogs list them?

Some inverted overprints are the result of human error or carelessness. Sometimes, when the work of overprinting is carefully supervised, inverted overprints are rare. If they occur just in position 1 in a sheet, then it is because a worker has picked up a handstamp upside down. When he (probably he) realises his mistake, he turns the handstamp around.

Podillia Trident overprints are very rarely inverted. The work was clearly carefully supervised and errors easy to spot. In contrast, an inverted Armenian framed and unframed Z overprint does not look very different to an uninverted one. So non-philatelic inverts are quite common - but so are philatelic ones

Some inverted overprints are clearly philatelically-inspired, to create collectable varieties. This is true, for example, for Kyiv I Broken Trident overprints [Bulat 62 - 108] and as a result Bulat remarks "Inverted overprints exist on most of the above issue and are priced the same as normal overprints" - though from my holdings, inverts are not equally common. Indeed, to make Inverts as common as Normals defeats the object of creating a scarcer collectable variety.

But there are other things to say about Broken Tridents and I will do this in my next Post

Added February 2020: Most of my Ukraine-related Blog posts are now available in full colour book form. To find out more follow the link:

Saturday 15 October 2011

Using the Seichter and Bulat Ukraine catalogs together

John Bulat's Ukraine catalaog, published by the UPNS in the USA, is the catalog of choice for all Ukraine collectors.
Rightly so. But back in May I blogged about some of its faults and, using it again today, I noticed more.
For example, some listings in Bulat are based on Dr Seichter's catalog but appear to mix up his mint and used columns and other descriptions. I discovered this while working through Lot 84 from the Zelonka sale, which includes Seichter material.


Bulat 23b is a variety (shifted center) on the basic stamp. Bulat prices this for mint but not for used. Seichter prices it for used but not for mint. Since I have a used pair but no mint copies out of Lot 84, my guess is that the Seichter listing is correct: this is a variety you may encounter used [ though I have never seen it before today] but are unlikely to see mint.

Bulat 30a is again a listing of a variety of the basic stamp. Bulat lists a 3 rouble 50 kopeck in "maroon and dark green". Seichter lists a "dunkler braun und giftgrun". Again, it is Seichter who is correct since it is the brown/maroon colour which is darker on this stamp than on the normal variety.

I conclude that when doing serious work, it is necessary to have both catalogs on the table. Fortunately, UPNS has also published an edition of Dr Seichter's work

Ukraine Tridents By District: some interesting data from the Zelonka Collection

When I did the lotting for Corinphila's sale of Dr Ron Zelonka's Ukraine collection, I avoided creating "Mixed Lots" (some existed as such in the collection and I left them like that). Instead, I grouped material by Issue and District. As a result, it is possible to see some philatelically-relevant patterns just from the Lots.

For example, I grouped nearly all the non-philatelic Trident covers and cards into a few large Lots. This is what they looked like:

Podillia over 250 items [Lot 115 Start 5000 Swiss francs Hammer 12500]
Kyiv over 175 items [Lot 74 Start 4000 Hammer 6500]
Odesa over 90 items [Lot 104 Start 3000 Hammer 4400] (the Trachtenberg covers went into a separate Lot 107 Start 900 Hammer 1900)
Katerynoslav over 60 items with no ENAKIEVO EKAT stuff [Lot 93 Start 3000 Hammer 4400]
Kharkiv over 40 items [Lot 86 Start 2000 Hammer 2600] I bought this Lot
Poltava over 40 items [Lot 99 Start 1500 Hammer 3400]

My guess is that this ordering tells us something about the relative volume of mail in the different Districts during the period of Ukrainian independence. If anything, I would expect Podillia's lead to be greater than shown here. That is because the Zelonka collection did not appear to include much from the enormous Vyrovyj collection which was auctioned after Dr Seichter's death and therefore not incorporated in any way into Seichter's collection - which formed a large part of Ron Zelonka's postal history holding.

Kyiv includes uses in Chernihiv and Zhitomir postal districts - their own issues are scarce othe than philatelically used.

Just 40 items from Kharkiv seems small in relation to the size of the city but it was an area of intense conflict and early Sovietisation.

Of course, all these Lots showed stamps used outside of their District of issue. Indeed, it is sometimes remarkable to observe just how much movement of stamps between Districts there was and a study could be made of out-of-district uses. For Podillia, for example, you can find the issues of Kyiv, Odesa and Kharkiv. I think I have even seen Poltava used non-philatelically in Podillia.

Added February 2020: Most of my Ukraine-related Blog posts are now available in full colour book form. To find out more follow the link:

Monday 10 October 2011

I am Still in Business...

Though I don't work so hard these days, I do still sell stamps and postal history. I don't make Lists, I don't have an Auction, but if you send me an email, I will tell you if I can help! I am

I am good at Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Ukraine 1918 - 23; Imperial Russian stamps (including Fiscals) and postal history; RSFSR and Soviet postal history (but NOT stamps); classic Romania, stamps and covers; Finland before 1918 postal history.

I still have stocks for Baltic States, Old German States, Hungary, Poland.

Tuesday 4 October 2011

Eugene Vyrovyj

Click on Image and Use Magnifier to enlarge

When you get into the kinds of things I get into, it is useful to be able to recognise different handwritings - or, in the case of Dr Seichter, his typewriters.

So I was pleased to get this example of Eugene Vyrovyj's handwriting. He was one of the great pre-1939 collectors of independent Ukraine, winning important Medals for his Podillia Tridents.

This 1927 piece of paper is part of an Attest for a Russian 7 kopeck on vertically laid paper with a Vinnitsa Trident overprint. Unfortunately, I don't have the stamp!

You can sometimes find his handstamp on stamps and formular cards - just the one word VYROVYJ in capitals.

As I understand it, Vyrovyj was closely associated with the exiled Ukrainian community in Prague. I have found in dealers' boxes occasional letters adressed to him. He appears to have committed suicide in 1947, perhaps because he was politically vulnerable, but his collection from pre-war times did not appear in auction until the 1980s when Schaetzle sold it in Switzerland. Remarkably, they broke it down into very many individual Lots and illustrated most of them - I acquired the photographic negatives for the catalogue some years ago and passed them on to a client. If you can get hold of the original catalogues, they are quite useful just because of this profusion of illustrations.

Added February 2020: Most of my Ukraine-related Blog posts are now available in full colour book form. To find out more follow the link:

Sunday 2 October 2011

ebay or how to lose faith in the free market

A dozen years ago, I decided I would not get involved with ebay. I would send material on approval to collectors who became regular clients and I would take Stands at stamp fairs around Europe. Since that decision, I have looked at ebay listings maybe three or four times and I have never bought anything on ebay.

Today I took a look at ebay's current Ukraine listings. I wanted to see if any material from the Zelonka sale has appeared there. No, is the short answer.

The long answer is that I trawled through 31 pages of New Issues, forgeries, stamps in poor condition and crazily overpriced items. Everything I sell for a pound or a euro seems to cost twenty on ebay, with the difference that mine are (a) genuine and (b) in good condition.

Of course, you will say, the free market allows people to offer crap but buyers are equally free not to buy it. I have the horrible feeling that buyers do buy. Why else would sellers go through the labour-intensive process of putting their fantasies on line?

Maybe ten percent of the listings are from collectors/dealers who know what they are doing and know what their material is worth. Some of it I recognise - they got it from me and have simply doubled the price. I don't have a problem with that.

Anyway, next time someone asks me for a discount on my one euro stamps I'll tell them they can go buy it on ebay for twenty bucks.