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Sunday 20 February 2011

Armenia 1923 Yerevan Pictorials

This set of 10 pictorials, the last to be prepared for use in Armenia alone, was also the first to be printed in Yerevan. Though the Bolsheviks allowed no speculative element to enter into the preparation of the issue - there are no deliberate varieties and no CTO material - there is considerable variation in colour, with some errors (omitted backgrounds), quite a few perforation varieties, and some paper varieties. The printing works had not done this kind of job before.

Christopher Zakiyan was able to find in the Archives, details of the numbers printed: in his 2003 book, he gives the following numbers:

50 rouble, 300 r, 400 r, 2000r, 3000r, 4000r, 5000r, 10 000r = 427 500 each value
500 rouble = 882 000
1000 rouble = 810 000

The stamps were only issued in overprinted form. Unoverprinted remainders were sold through Moscow, but the quantities were clearly very unequal. Three or four values can be found in large multiples, including complete sheets: the 50 r, 500 r (probably the most common), and to a lesser degree, the 1000 r and 10 000 r. But, in my experience, the other values are really only found as single copies in old collections.

I have been accumulating this issue for maybe 15 years and it is frustrating not to be able to complete never hinged ** sets, let alone ** sets in blocks 4. I have over a thousand nice ** copies of the 500r but at the present time NO ** copies of the 4000r and 5000r. That's quite a differential!

This state of affairs reflects the choices made when overprinting stamps. Here, too, there are remainders of some values: the 1000 r in metal on the 50r is quite common in mint condition because there was litle demand for this low value stamp (Inflation, Inflation, Inflation) and used copies are scarce. In contrast, while used copies of the 50 000 r in metal on the attractive 1000r (Fisherman on Lake Sevan) are quite common, mint copies of this value are scarce.

To make a serious collection of this issue is therefore a challenge, but with luck and patience the gaps can be filled - and probably not very expensively either.

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