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Tuesday, 20 February 2018

New Light on the 1921-22 Stamps of Armenia: Essayan and Khatchaturian?

I have blogged frequently about the first two pictorial issues of Soviet Armenia, their designer Sarkis Khatchaturian and their printer Vahan Essayan. We already know that Khatchaturian went to Constantinople in 1921  to discuss the new stamps he had designed. He was working for a government which had no money and instead he was provided with sample stamps, the so-called First Star issue, which he was authorised to sell and thereby - I think - fund his trip. From the following letter, it seems this plan did not work out as intended. Khatchaturian is using Essayan's notepaper to provide a Poste Restante address (hence the French endorsement "pour ..." at the top left of the sheet). He is writing about a previous letter asking for financial help from Dr Souren Hovhannisian (who may be living in Egypt) either directly or through an intermediary. The writer's wife is willing to travel to collect funds.

My guess is that Khatchadourian is approaching family or art world contacts for help. He was already a significant figure in the Armenian art world, and today the National Gallery of Armenia holds many of his works.

I am grateful to Haik Nazarian and Stefan Berger for tackling the translation and interpretation of this letter.

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