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Tuesday 9 July 2013

Armenia 1922 - 1923 Postal Use of First and Second Yessayan

Evidence of private use of postal services in Armenia during the complete six year  period 1918 - 1923 is extremely scarce.

Mail in a few categories can be found as follows:

- Mail Abroad (mostly to the USA) during 1920 when the British facilitated its transmission
- As a sub-category, Philatelic mail to Tiflis sent during 1920 and notably by Souren Serebrakian
- Mail Abroad ( again mostly to the USA) during 1922 - 23
- Money Transfer Forms sending money internally or within Transcaucasia 1922 - 23

Peter Ashford's collection, about which I recently Blogged, also included a few examples of a further category:

- Internal private mail during 1922 - 23

His material comprised a few large fragments of covers or nearly-complete covers from the so-called "Law Courts Hoard" which was available to Ashford (and Tchilingirian) back in the 1950s and which appears to have been free of the kind of "improvements" made to more recently released archive material which started out as stampless, official letters but  to which stamps have been added in the recent past.

Ashford's material shows private individuals writing to the Courts ("People's Courts" on all the addresses). One puzzle concerns the status of the so-called "Second Yessayan" stamps - the slate and red stamps. These were supposedly Famine Relief stamps, issued around the same period as those in Azerbaijan and Georgia. As such, one expects to find them used in conjunction with "regular" adhesives as evidence of payment of a Charity supplement, as on this cover:

Click on Image to Magnify

This Registered cover started life in DZHELAL OGLY and is cancelled 22 2 23 on the front and 24 2 23 and 25 2 23 on the reverse. It was addressed to a People's Court in Alexandropol and a receiver cancel was applied ALEXANDROPOL 26 2 23. The letter was forwarded to Yerevan and got there though the dates on the two strikes of an ERIVAN cancel are not legible. The franking is provided by two copies of First Yessayan 50 perforated surcharged "5" together with Second Yessayan 2000  surcharged "5" . So one could suppose that the Tariff was 10 gold kopecks and the Charity surcharge 50% of that, 5 gold kopecks. 

However, it is possible to find Second Yessayan stamps used alone, as on this nice and nearly complete cover:

This Registered cover is locally sent within Karaklis, again to a People's Court. The cancellation on the front is date readable as KARAKLIS ERIVAN 8 7 22. Franking is provided by a single copy of the Second Yessayan 500 surcharged "3". Now, either the full (local?) Tariff was 3 kopecks and this stamp is used as a regular adhesive not a Charity stamp or - possibly - the Tariff was (say ) 2 kopecks and the Charity contribution 1 kopeck. In the absence of either a 2 kopeck First Yessayan or a 1 kopeck Second Yessayan, the postal clerk could then have decided to show the total paid by means of this one stamp. Does anyone have a better idea?

Ashford's material also included this third item which has no Second Yessayan adhesive. Sent just one month after the first cover I illustrated, it seems we get confirmation of a 10 kopeck Tariff. Sent Registered from KAMARLYU ERIVAN  29 3 23 it has no arrival marks (I am told that it is addressed locally to the Kamarlyu Court - the word in the top line is Kamarlinkskomu). It is possible that something has been left behind when this cover was cut from the archive book - the fragment is very reduced. But even so, one might expect to see at least a small part  of a receiver cancel to one side:

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