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Monday 28 November 2011

Kyiv 1 Broken Tridents: a little theory

I have been looking at Kyiv I Broken Tridents from Lot 84 of the Zelonka sale (Bulat 62 - 108). These are not very interesting, since they are almost entirely philatelic productions. Most are cancelled to order at PROSKUROV in Podillia: see the strip of 5 above with cancellation dated 14 5 19.

(By the way, Bulat prices the 35 kopeck at $40 mint and $35 used [Bulat 76]. This is simply a misprint. The 35 kopeck seems to be one of the most common Broken Tridents and Dr Seichter gives it a value of 3 DM. In contrast, the 50 kopeck which Bulat prices at 20 cents, mint or used [Bulat 77] is an unpriced rarity in Dr Seichter. I don't have a copy but I have 20 copies of the 35 kopeck, so I am pretty convinced that the Bulat listing is wrong and Dr Seichter's right)

Anyway, in addition to the regular Broken Trident overprints in violet there are a few in red (a sort of pink - red). Bulat lists red overprints on the 10/7 kopeck, the 25 kopeck and the 50 kopeck imperforate (Bulat 71a, 75a, 90a). Dr Seichter also lists this overprint on the 7 kopeck, which I have - see the three stamps illustrated above. Both catalogs agree that these red overprints are rare, with Bulat using a price range of $75 - $150.

I now have a total of 9 copies of these stamps (but I don't have a copy of the 50 kopeck imperforate)and all are cancelled KIEV and none are cancelled Proskurov. And the date is later and where readable in 2 7 19.

So my little theory is this: though most of the Broken Trident overprints were exported to Podillia in mint conditon and cancelled to order there (in an area under UNR control), the handstamp remained in Kyiv. To mark the Bolshevik (Red) take-over of Kyiv, someone had the idea of making Broken Trident overprints in red. They clearly did not make very many. Dr Seichter listed and signed these overprints, though sometimes he marks them as "Neudruck" which of course they are in relation to the original printings both of Kyiv I and the Broken Trident variant. My suggestion is that they should be thought of as Bolshevik - flavoured Tridents.

Postscript 15 July 2012:

Here is a cover from a recent auction. Dated even later (29 1 20)and addressed to Moscow (though I do not think it travelled), it has two red Broken tridents in the middle flanked by Kyiv IIgg in red on two other stamps, all clearly from the same ink pad. When I looked inside the envelope, I found Dr Seichter's signatures combined with his Opinions: the Kyiv I Broken Tridents he treats as Reprints (Neudruck) and the Kyiv IIgg overprints as philatelic productions (Philatelisten Druck). Interestingly, the KIEV canceller appears to be the same as the one used on my loose stamps.

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Saturday 26 November 2011

Monacophil 2011

Just to tell my readers that in a couple of days, I will set off by car from Brighton to Monte Carlo. I have a Stand at Monacophil 2011 under my trading name ARMENIA ZEMSTVO (Trevor Pateman). If you read this Blog AND plan to visit Monacophil, please come and say Hello :)

If you don't plan to visit Monacophil, you can always email me to ask if I have material you need. Just don't send me Soviet Union Wants Lists - I no longer have a stock of Soviet stamps (just too many ...) And, sadly, don't send me Zemstvo Wants Lists. I am Sold Out of Zemstvos - and I think I might have to change my name to ARMENIA WEST UKRAINE

Wednesday 16 November 2011

The Strand Stamp Fair: A Show I like

I just came home from London's monthly "Strand Stamp Fair" held at the Royal National Hotel, near Russell Square Underground and close to Euston and St Pancras stations.

I like this show, even though I have to get up very early for it, or else stay in a London hotel the night before.

To avoid London's traffic congestion, dealers arrive very early for the show from all over the UK (and sometimes from France, Belgium and the Netherlands). They are setting up shop between 07.00 and 08.00 and most start the journey home around 14.00 - 15.00 to avoid the London evening traffic.

It's a lively little show with 30 or so dealers including top names like Cover Story. Though there are plenty of GB and Commonwealth specialists, there are also dealers specialising in foreign material and also general all world dealers with big stocks.

If you are going to be in London during 2013 make anote of teh Show dates: 11 Jan, 15 Feb, 22 March [ I will not be there], 12 April, 10 May, 7 June, 12 July, 16 August, 13 September, 11 October, 15 November, 13 December.

 Go to for more information

Tuesday 15 November 2011

Correction of Weak Handstamp Impressions

When overprints are made with handstamps, sometimes an impression will be weak and sometimes it will be corrected with a second impression. If the handstamp is a single handstamp, it is obvious what is going on. When the handstamp is a multiple, things can get more complicated.

Below, is a pane of 25 of Katerynoslav type I overprints from a 5-cliche handstamp. In row 4, a weak impression in Position 1 has been corrected by reapplication of the handstamp - but shifted to the left so that it is Position 5 of the handstamp which makes the correction, not Position 1. Positions 4 and 3 appear in the sheet margin (reading right to left):

In contrast, here is a block of Kharkiv I (handstamp 9). This handstamp is also a 5 -cliche handstamp. The weak impression in Row 1 has been corrected by re-applying the whole handsdtamp, thus producing a double print:

Finally, and more interesting, when part of a 5 - handstamp impression fails to print, corrections can be made with single handstamps kept for the purpose. I believe this can be found for both Katerynoslav and Kharkiv. The pane below dramatically illustrates what is involved because the correction in Row 3 Position 5 is in a different colour (red). By looking up and down the column of position 5s, it can be seen that the red handstamp is not reapplication of position 5, nor (looking across the Rows) is it one of the other positions from the handstamp. It is a separate single handstamp. The work has been carelessly done, because the weak impression in Row 4 Position 5 has not been corrected. John Bulat has pencilled on this block that it is a Late Print from Handstamp 9 but he has not commented on the red overprint, nor have I seen it listed or discussed anywhere (and it is not from the rare handstamp used to make the red overprints Bulat 725-727):

All three items ex-Zelonka collection (Lots 87-94)

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Monday 14 November 2011

Lost in Translation: Seichter and Bulat again

I found the two stamps above in Lot 84 of the Zelonka sale and went to Bulat to see if he listed this combination of Kyiv I and Kyiv II ( it looks like IIg to me). He doesn't.

So I went to Dr Seichter's 1966 Sonder - Katalog. He does list this variety under Kyiv I as "Kiew I + II zusammen" and gives it a - - price.

One of these stamps is signed UPV and the other is unsigned; both probably came from Dr Seichter's holdings incorporated into Ron Zelonka's collection.

They are almost certainly philatelic rather than a genuine use of one handstamp to correct a weak impression of another [more on these in future posts], but Bulat lists many stamps and varieties which are philatelic. So it seems likely that he just skipped past this one in Dr Seichter's listing.

It provides another example of why serious collectors really need to use the Bulat catalog and Dr Seichter's Katalog side-by-side.

It's a pity the cancellations aren't legible. Both stamps are without gum and from the positioning of the cancels, it looks as if they were originally on paper with the cancellation tying them to the paper, rather than struck centrally as it would be if they were just cancelled to order off paper.

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Thursday 10 November 2011

Stamp Shows: Alive, Dying and Dead

Just as Europe's national economies differ, even if they share a single currency, so do their stamp shows.

Major stamp shows in Germany, like those in Essen and Sindelfingen, are very much alive, with dealers always offering new stock, often in remarkable quantity and usually at reasonable prices. Collectors have a reason to visit these shows: there is always something to be found. German dealers are helped by a low VAT rate on collectibles (7%) and they are supported by a very strong network of auction houses. In short, Germany is a lively, competitive market oriented towards collectors.

Germany is the first stop for non - EU visitors who require a Schengen Visa. So you find Russian visitors in German shows. In contrast, England is now rarely visited by Russian collectors and dealers - getting a visa is just too much hard work and sometimes impossible.

France's major show, the Paris Salon d'Automne, is oriented towards postal administrations, notably France's La Poste, and to the sale of official "produits philateliques".

Unless you collect France, you aren't going to find very much at the Salon d'Automne and what you do find is likely to be old stock, in poor condition and over-priced. This is what a protectionist economy produces.

On a visit there this month (I speak French and used to take a Stand but never enjoyed the show or made any money), I managed to spend just 100 euro on material for my stock and 40 euro on one item for my collection. My hands soon felt dirty from the dirty plastics - and some dealers don't even use plastic protection for their stock. As for prices, I found one dealer with prices of 15 euro pencilled on grubby Soviet FDCs and such like of the 1980's ... Is this a record?

It's not as if the dealers are trying to imitate a flea market (marche aux puces). Flea markets actually work by changing stock frequently, and by not being dirty. No, the dealers are just lazy. In addition, they have no network of auction houses to support them - I don't know why, but I guess it is bureaucratic complexity which stops the industry from thriving.

If I was a collector in France, I would head straight across the border to the nearest German show. If I was the CNEP, which runs the Paris show, I would expel half the dealers and try to find some new ones to take their place.

Italy? I used to go to Verona but I can't tell you what it's like now.

Belgium? The Antwerp show used to be very lively (and conducted in a fog of cigar and cigarette smoke)but it seems to have suffered from professionalisation / protectionism - some years ago, small part-time dealers not registered for VAT wre expelled. It did not improve the quality.

What do readers think of other European shows, I wonder?

Sunday 6 November 2011

Trident Forgeries with large Soviet Export Mark

Go to the previous Blog for explanation. All the Tridents shown above are forged. All the stamps have large Soviet export guarantee marks in red as illustrated in the previous Blog post. Many (but not all) of these stamps were in packets of forgeries included in Lot 146 of the Zelonka sale; it's possible that the packets came from Bulat's collection. None of these stamps has any other signature apart from the Soviet mark. (In one case, a really nice stamp has been wasted: the 10 rouble perforated on vertically laid paper has a clear postmark of KARS!)

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Beware This Mark on Ukraine Tridents!

Back in 2001, one of our most knowledgeable and careful living philatelists, Alexander Epstein, published an article in Ukrainian Philatelist (v 49, n 1) which alerted collectors to a forgery of a Soviet export mark appearing on the back of loose Trident stamps. This mark is illustrated above; a genuine mark of this character exists and was used in the 1920s but only on items of postal history; a significantly smaller mark was used on stamps. The forgery of the large mark appeared in the 1950s and was applied to the back of stamps with forged Trident overprints. Of course, it's possible that it was also applied to stamps with genuine overprints. Dr Seichter has signed the above stamp as genuine, though it isn't.

Dr Seichter seems to have taken the mark to be genuine and thus was puzzled by stamps with what appeared to be doubtful overprints. He concluded that, in general, the stamps were Reprints. He wrote about the problem in a little pamphlet, "Ukraine: Falschung oder unbekannte Typen? Kritische Betrachtungen uber Lokalausgaben 1918/20" (1960).

The mint stamp above which Seichter signed is a 35 kopeck with Trident, supposedly, of Konstantynohrad. [There is a possibility that the Seichter signature is forged but there is nothing about it which alerts my suspicions]

I also illustrate a picture of the the mint stamp alongside the used copy which appears on the one known MTF with Konstantynohrad Trident. Look at the right wing on both stamps and you can see that on the mint forgery, the wing inclines at a greater angle to the vertical spike of the Trident than does the wing on the genuine stamp. The illustration in Bulat's catalog (page 127) correctly captures the angle of inclination of the right wing.

On my next Blog, I will illustrate a batch of stamps with the large export mark and forged tridents which are much easier to see are forgeries than this Konstantynohrad example.

I leave the last word to Alexander Epstein, " one may assert that finding a large size mark on a loose trident stamp is the best "guarantee" that the overprint is forged" (article cited, page 48)

CORRECTION POSTED 9 nov 2011: the mint 35 kopeck mint stamp is not trying to be a Konstantynohrad Trident; it is either a genuine Hanebne Trident or, much more likely, a forgery of it - Bulat does not list Hanebne on the 35 kopeck value

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: