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Sunday 24 July 2011

Russian Post Offices in China (Again)

Some years ago, I got from Dr Raymond Casey a fat stockbook of his duplicate stamps of the Russian Post Offices in China, mostly used - and put it in my cupboard. From time to time, I added new acquisitions, mostly mint multiples.

I have just emptied the stockbook. Most of the stamps have gone into the "Pick Anywhere for £1" stockbooks which I take to small fairs. Some I have put aside for expertising. Some I have put into regular stock using Stanley Gibbons as a guide to pricing.

I was satisfied that the used stamps were genuine - no doubt because they had a good provenance - and a few had nice postmarks. The handful of used copies of 1917 Cents issues included ones used as late as 1921 in Kharbin.

This issue is really very scarce used: Stanley Gibbons partly recognises this but Michel does not. The 1917 Cents set is a "Civil War" issue used in a limited number of offices providing an increasingly limited service in the East : Shanghai to Vladivostok is about as adventurous as it gets. Some of the values used are probably no easier to find than used copies of the 1920 (K)harbin Cents issue.

When I came to the mint stamps, I did a quick check for forgeries on every stamp - and quickly concluded that most were fakes, including the majority of my rather nice mint multiples. I have put them all (over 180 stamps including some which are probably OK and some which as I got tired I just could not be bothered with) into one Lot and will consign it (if he will take it!) to one of Kaj Hellman's forthcoming sales, to be offered "As Is" for a nominal starting price.

I was actually left with very few worthwhile mint stamps in which I had confidence; few of them were signed so I could not use signatures as a short cut. Interestingly, it was the kopeck value stamps which contained the highest proportion of forgeries.

This is understandable if you consider that stamps like the 5r and 10r on vertically laid paper are pretty scarce mint. If you were a forger and found a complete sheet of either of them in mint condition, you would simply be a fool to overprint them: they are too valuable to mess around with.

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