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Wednesday 28 July 2010

Lubotyn / Lubotin: rare stamps for £1?

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:

This Blog is a response to some questions asked by a client in Australia, Mark Kornitschuk, about the Special or Local Trident type of Lubotin (Seichter's spelling) or Lubotyn (Bulat's spelling). He had been reading Seichter, Bulat and Ceresa - all referred to below. I have added a further reference at the end.

In his 1966 catalog of Ukrainian Trident overprints, Dr Seichter lists a local Trident type VIII for Charkow /Kharkiv and in brackets links it to the town of Lubotin. He lists it on 9 values, one of which he records as ONLY known in used condition on the old 3r50 rouble black and grey and gives a - - value, which means "too rare to call". One value he records known both mint and used, and seven values only known mint. These mint stamps he values at 350 or 360 Deutschmarks each which is high: Seichter does not use a number over 500, after that it becomes - -.

In his posthumous 2003 catalog of Ukrainian Tridents, John Bulat expands the list of known values to 10 and expands the number for which the Trident is known in used condition to 4. He also records the 3r50 as known mint and values it at - -. He puts a number on 8 of the values in mint condition, $200 each, and on 2 values used, for which the number is $250. Bulat comments "Type 8 is known only from the town of Lubotyn"

In between, Dr Ceresa in his 1987 Handbook devoted to the Special Trident Issues (Parts 20 / 23 of his Ukraine volume) consigns the Liubotyn Tridents to his Category III: Bogus Types (page 390), and values them all at £1 each, mint or used (page 425).

Why? Ceresa illustrates an album page from Seichter's collection at Plate DXIII and comments that all except one of the stamps illustrated is mint. He queries the used stamp because it appears to have a 1922 postmark and he adds that the four or five "used" Liubotyn stamps he has seen have had the Trident on top of the postmark. If this is true and if the Trident is the genuine type of Lubotin (and not a forgery of the Trident), then this is fatal to the idea that we are looking at an authentic issue

Seichter's album page no longer exists: the next owner of the Seichter collection re-mounted it. Ceresa's illustration shows a page of 13 stamps with the comment "Nur wenige Stücke bekannt" - only a few copies known. Seichter also refers at the bottom of his page to two unillustrated stamps: "Noch bekannt je eine 10/7 Kop ungebr. und 1: 3,50 Rub. alt gebr" - "Also known one mint 10/7 and one 3 rouble 50 used"

So if you are interested in rarities, here's an overprint where - - in the Ukraine catalogs means "one known" !

The stamp I want to see is the 3r50 used and Seichter does not illustrate this. The small remainders of this high value but obsolete stamp were used up in post offices to frank Money Transfer Forms with Trident-overprinted stamps. When they are found used, they often have security punch holes. Because of the large size of the stamp, it is often possible to read the postmark. So if we are going to find a readable Lubotin / Lubotyn / Liubotyn postmark it is going to be on this stamp.

So where is this stamp? A thought occurred to me. In 1960 Dr Seichter published a booklet on the Tridents of Kharkiv (Soltau, 1960). I found my copy. He illustrates the Type VIII Trident only once on a mint copy of the 1 kopeck (Tafel XI). But in the text, he says this "Von dieser seltenem und als fraglich angesehenen Typen wurden mit einige Stücke aus Amerika zur Prüfung übersandt, darunter von Herrn Bulat dies bisher unbekannten Werte 10/7 und 20/14 Kop., ungebraucht, sowie aus der Yakowliw -Sammlung eine 3, 1/2 Rubel alt auf kleinem Postanweisungs-Stück. Hier bleibt offen, ob der Aufdruck vielleicht nachträglich aufgesetzt wurde" (page 7). I translate: "Of this scarce and questionable Type, a few copies were sent to me from America for expertising, among them from Mr Bulat the previously unrecorded values 10/7 and 20/14 kopeck, mint, as also from the Jakovliv collection an old 3 1/2 rouble on a small piece of Money Transfer Form. Here it remains open whether the overprint was applied later" - presumably because the cancellation did not tie the Trident.

But it would still be good to see this stamp. So where is the Jakovliv / Jakovlev Collection?

As a dealer, I have handled 4 copies of the Lubotyn Trident, all mint, in twenty years. Three were sold by Corinphila in 2008 (Sale 156, Lot 5274). Of these, one was originally on the Seichter album page illustrated in Ceresa's handbook and one was signed by Dr Seichter. My final copy was sold recently.

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