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Wednesday 29 November 2017

Why Stamps In Multiples Are A Good Idea

I have been preparing small groups of Ukraine tridents to send to auction at, mostly from districts (Odesa, Podilia, Poltava) which used single handstamps. It reminded me that multiples are often preferable to singles for purposes of stamp identification. This is true not only for single handstamp overprints. For a regular stamp printed by typography or lithography even, a small multiple will quite often enable identification of a particular printing. This may be because clich├ęs have been moved or repaired, or because the setting has changed – distance between stamps may have been altered and a multiple will make that clear. For overprints from a plate rather than a single handstamp, a small multiple allows plating and that may be a very good test of whether or not the overprint is genuine. Very few forgers have had the resources to reproduce plating varieties in the right positions in a sheet. They may have had no access to a whole sheet and certainly neither the time or money to carefully reproduce plate faults. Digital forgeries can do that, but then they are detectable as digital. And, of course, even a pair of stamps can be definitive evidence that a stamp is genuinely imperforate and not just a cut-down perforated stamp.

One-of-each collectors working with album spaces lose out heavily on such helpful collecting possibilities. In the past they lost out even more: when miniature sheets were first issued, spaces for them in albums were often smaller than the sheet so collectors cut down the sheets to fit the spaces. This happened to early Poland mini-sheets, for example. It’s a good job that art collectors have never used one-size fits all frames.

Expense is one factor which encourages one-of-each collecting but the expense of upgrading from a single common Trident stamp to a block of four or a strip of five may be of the order of one or two euros, one or two dollars. It’s silly not to take the opportunity, especially in an area like Podilia tridents where sub-types which are hard to distinguish from single stamps become easily visible in a strip or block.

But it’s also sometimes the case that a group of single stamps if brought together can be used to identify each other, as in the example below. The 7 rouble imperforate with Podilia Trident is always a scarce stamp, regardless of sub-type of overprint. The group below all have type 12b (which Bulat values at $75 each) but it is only when they are grouped together that one can be sure of the identification. It helps that this group were all used at Kamenets and that they may be from the same transfer form or, at least, the same sheet. Note things like the way the handstamp is tilted and the greyish colour of the ink which is paler than most Podilia inks and may represent a late batch of work. So these stamps will go to auction as one lot because it's then very clear what you have in front of you. Of course, it's only because over a twenty five year period I have bought Ukrainian stamps in thousands that I have been able to assemble groups like this. These four stamps have been in different collections since they were first used in 1919 as can be inferred from the pencil notes etc on the back of them:

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