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Friday, 21 December 2012

End of the World Predictions from St Petersburg

Here's a card with a nice cancellation OTD. EXSP. GOR. POCHTI. sent from St Petersburg on 18 November / 1 December 1903. The writer asks for cuttings from the Westminster Gazette and adds 
There is a strong rumour afloat here that v[on]. Plehve [the Interior Minister] is going and that your old friend [Count] Witte is coming - in the former's place. Can't vouch for the truth of it, but I was assured today that it is definitely settled; the date is the only matter in doubt. I don't like the look of things in the Far East. It smells somewhat [gun]"powdery" over there, I guess"
Well, the unpopular and reactionary von Plehve did go - but not in the way the writer imagined. He was assassinated in 1904. But Sergei Witte did not replace him: Chairman of the [unimportant] Committee of Ministers in 1903, he became Chairman of the [important] Council of Ministers only in 1905, when the Tsar was under pressure from popular unrest and Witte's more conciliatory approach was (briefly) needed

So much for Predictions. And I don't think the World has come to an end today, either.

Anyway, this is my last Blog Post for 2012 and I wish all my readers an enjoyable end to this year and Good Health and Good Collecting in 2013.  

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Armenia 1920 Combined Surcharges

I was browsing Philasearch today and looked at the Armenia on offer or recently offered. I was pleased to see that Viennafil had sold a Combined Surcharge for 180 €uro + commissions. The stamp was genuine (Congratulations, Viennafil, you are doing better than many auction houses!) and the price seemed about right: Michel's 2200 €uro for this stamp (Michel 111) is too high.

Combined Surcharges are not common and they are not very popular: they can look very messy with the rouble surcharge over the framed or unframed Z. Quite often, one of the overprints is forged in an attempt to create a more valuable stamp from a less valuable one.

When I checked my stockbook, I found I had five copies of the type sold by Viennafil: see the image above.
On closer inspection, I think all my five and the Viennafil copy may be from the same sheet. The basic shade of the 35 kopeck stamp is the same and - more to the point - the perforation is slightly off centre: the design is close to the perforations at top and left hand side. It's quite possible that only one sheet with this particular combination was produced: the large Z in violet is not common as a basic stamp.

The stamp is a nice example of a combined surcharge because the fact that the large Z is in violet and the 10 rouble surcharge in black allows you to see what has happened more clearly than when both overprints are black (I don't think they are ever both violet).

Anyway, Christmas is coming: if any collector wants one of the stamps above, then my price is 180 €uro with no extra charges for postage. I advise against the fourth stamp from the left which has one short perforation. The third stamp from left is with a tiny hinge remainder; the other stamps are never hinged. Probably, they all came to me when I bought the Tchilingirian - Ceresa holding of the Combined Surcharges.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Azerbaijan 1921 Soviet Pictorials: More on the Varieties

For those who like Plate Flaws, there is a nice one at Position 291 in the 304 - stamp sheet of 500 rouble Blacksmiths. This results in the "500" in the bottom left value tablet looking like "50". Since it occurs only once in the 304 stamp sheet, chances of finding it by chance are - well, 1 in 304.

The example above on the right is combined with a significant downwards shift of the background colour print. As a result, you can see (and I am seeing for the first time) that somehow the background also got affected at the same point. How to explain this I don't know.

In general, these pictorials were quite carefully printed and - even with the massive lithographic stones involved - very few varieties are found, whether damage to the stones or colour shifts. The only really remarkable variety seems to be the five inverted cliches in the bottom row of the 3000 rouble sheet producing the tête-bêche variety listed in catalogues. The variety seems to be non-philatelic since it is found in multiples of the stamp used on entirely non-philatelic covers. Here, for example, is the back of a Registered cover from ELENENO ELISAV 14 11 22 to Munich (no receiver). The franking may be incomplete - see part cancellation at the very top - even though it comes to a round number (30 x 50 000 = 1 500 000), but the inverted cliché in the bottom left corner has not been removed ...