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Saturday 21 April 2012

The "Constantinople Group" : making philatelic products in the 1920s

Since they are all dead, it ought to be possible now to write some kind of honest account of the doings of a group of stamp dealers, collectors, entrepreneurs and crooks who found themselves together in Constantinople in 1920 - 22/23, did a lot of stuff together, and who thereafter went their separate ways.

Who were these people and what did they get up to? In no particular order and with no proof that they were all in it together (probably they weren't):

V.M.(Y)essayan, the head of the Essayan Printing Works, who managed both to overprint the stamps of the [White] Russian Refugee Post and print the first stamps of Soviet Armenia [First and Second Yessayan] and who along the way probably printed the Levant ship fantasies (which are on paper and with gum similar to those used for the Armenian stamps). He also supplied the stamp trade with unofficial reprints and (probably)unofficial colour trials, proofs etc of the Soviet Armenian stamps. Not bad for an Armenian working in Turkish Constantinople!

Captain Sredinsky, "Postmaster" of the Russian Refugee Post from the time of Wrangel's evacuation of Crimea at the end of 1920 until his migration to Paris and his re-emergence as the stamp dealer THALS.

Serge Rockling (1893 - 1975), who probably left Tbilisi in late 1920 or early 1921 before the Bolsheviks arrived, had a hand in the National Guard and De Jure overprints of Georgia, may have had a hand in the Georgian Consular overprints of 1921, and who is best known as head of the (highly reputable) Paris stamp dealers, MAISON ROMEKO

Souren Serebrakian (1900 - 1990), born in Tiflis, who found himself in Yerevan in 1920, filled his suitcases with Armenian stamps, left in August or September 1920, and made his way via Batum, Constantinople, Leipzig, the Netherlands and Brussels to New York where he traded stamps until his death and left a vast stock auctioned a few years ago by Cherrystone. Probably had a hand in the Georgian Consular overprints of January 1921.

? ? Samuel Gueron, a Constantinople stamp dealer responsible for the rather good "Gueron forgeries" of Katerynoslav Type II Tridents.

? ? A.M. Rosselevich, an accomplished draftsman who in later life designed the 1957 Rossica society souvenir sheets and vignettes celebrating the hundreth anniversary of Russia #1, and who I have been told (orally) was in Constantinople at the time I am writing about. In later life, expertised stamps using the handstamp ROSS.

? ? Paul Melik-Pachaiv may not have made it to Constantinople. The Bolsheviks imprisoned this philatelic speculator who dominated the production of Armenian stamps after Serebrakian left, and as a result of his imprisonment he may have left later and by another route. But, curiously, in 1923 he can be found in Leipzig - a city also on Serebrakian's migration route, so I have added his name here just in case there is more to the story than we know about.

If this Blog has older readers, they may be able to continue the story.... It is one worth researching.

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