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Wednesday 30 October 2013

A Puzzling Trident from Odessa

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The Type 1 Trident overprint of Odessa was printed from a lithographic plate of 10 x 10, designed for Imperial kopeck value stamps.

It is therefore rather strange that John Bulat lists Type 1 on two rouble values - the 10 x 10 plate would simply not work applied to rouble value sheets. But Bulat has the following:

1077 1 rub imperforate valued at - - mint and $125 used
1078  3.50 rub imperforate valued at - - mint and - - used

I can only illustrate one example of these stamps; I did not make a note of where I got it from, but it is probably from the Schmidt collection. There are no markings or signatures on the back of the stamp but nearly everything looks plausible:

- the stamp appears to have been postally used on a formular card and has a triangular punch hole and a trace of blue crayon
- the ODESSA 10 10 18 cancel looks good - the only doubtful element is the difference in style between the first "10" (which looks slightly doubled ) and the second "10" but this may be of no significance
- the Trident looks good too. It's in the right kind of ink and it's under the cancellation.

BUT if this is Odessa Type 1 then really only two possibilities exist:

- there was a second Odessa 1 plate adapted to fit ruble value sheets
- there was some kind of handstamp made based on Odessa 1 and applied by hand to ruble value stamps (just like Odessa 4 - 6 handstamps)

Can anyone show more examples of this stamp or find references in the philatelic literature? Do any multiples exist?

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:

Sunday 20 October 2013

Priceless Stamps of Ukraine

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Sometime in the 1990s - I forget when - I bought a Lot in an auction held by the nice Hamburg firm of Schwanke und Sohn. The Lot comprised about 20 000 or 30 000 Trident overprinted stamps, nearly all in complete sheets. The sheets were neatly folded but just once in the middle and they had been very carefully stored. Some sheets had pencilled remarks in the margins, always accurate. Most of them were common stamps and all were genuine. Over the years I have sold most of these stamps - and probably given away some of them in desperate moments.

Today I came across a few sheets which remain. Here is one sheet. These are 15 kopeck imperforate stamps overprinted with Kyiv type 2 using a single handstamp type 2a. This is # 285 in the Bulat catalogue where it is priced at  - -  mint and $55 used.

I think there was a second identical sheet or part sheet which I cut up into strips of 5 to supply clients with Bulat - based (or Seichter - based) Wants Lists. There has never been any temptation to cut up this sheet. There does not seem to be a queue of people looking for Bulat # 285.

Material like this is a bit of a headache, really. The sheet is not attractive. There are no Zeppelins. The obscure variety it illustrates is of interest to almost no one. And the stamp is priceless. 

You might say that this is ideal auction material - in the right auction, this sheet will find its price. Well, if I offer it for 10 euro then I guess it would sell for more than that. If I offer it for 100 euro, I am not sure it would sell. And yet the fact of Bulat's  - -  suggests that this is a scare or rare stamp. (He might be wrong of course. But maybe I picked up most of the global supply of this stamp in that Schwanke auction ...)

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:

Wednesday 16 October 2013

Zemstvo Postmarks and Cachets

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Maybe someone somewhere is working on a Handbook of Zemstvo Postmarks and Cachets.  It will be an enormous and frustrating task. There must have been thousands of postmarks and cachets used by Zemstvo Posts - and probably 90% of them are rare.

In the previous Blog I wrote about going through Flea Market boxes looking for postcards. Look through enough boxes and you will eventually find something like the item above. But what is it?

It's a picture postcard of Essentuki, posted in that holiday resort on 23 VII 1907. The stamp is cancelled ESSENTUKI TERSKOE and this cancel is repeated twice to the left of the stamp. 

At the bottom of the card is an oval violet cachet struck in violet dated 26 JUL 1907 and with "2k" written in red ink. But the card is correctly franked at 3 kopecks so how come someone wants to raise 2 kopecks Postage Due?

The card is addressed to Poltava guberniya (in the first line) and then to what I read as Kobelyaki uyezd (District) in the second line. After that, it gets difficult. 

But my guess is that the violet cachet belongs to Kobelyaki Zemstvo and that it reads KOBELYAKI ZEMSTVO POST though only the initial "KO" and the final "Ta" of POCHTa is clear. The 2 kopecks represents the fee for local delivery within the Zemstvo.

The known postmarks of Kobelyaki at this period are struck in violet, they are oval, and they have a saw tooth outer frame like that on this cachet - they are however in a larger format.

That's as far as I can get with Google. And the chances of one of my readers being able to show the same cachet are, I suspect, very small - but not impossible, which is why I put up today's Blog.

Postscript: This item has now been Sold

Tuesday 15 October 2013

Zemstvo Stamps on Postcards Three examples from Ustsysolsk

In recent years, Forgers have spent many many hours going through boxes of cheap Russian postcards circa 1900 – 1917 looking for ones which could be “improved” by the addition of Zemstvo stamps – or even Zemstvo stamps combined with new Imperial stamps applied to replace the ones which unthinking collectors had removed in the distant past.

Some of these forgeries are childish but still fool collectors and the editors of serious philatelic journals: look at those below, two of many promoted to the pages of specialist Journals by the late George Werbizky. They hardly need comment. If you can’t see that they are Forgeries, you shouldn’t be collecting Zemstvos.

Click on Image to Enlarge

But some forgeries are much better and, as a result, all late use of Zemstvo stamps on postcards must be treated with suspicion. But sometimes doing the necessary Forensics is not so difficult. Look at the two cards below, for example:

Click on Image to Englarge

The first card – a typical Easter greetings card - was posted in Moscow and cancelled there on 1 4 14 with one strike on the stamp (paying the correct Tariff) and a standard second strike to the left. In any of the world’s flea markets it would cost very little.

The Ustsysolsk Zemstvo stamp adds a lot of value, even though the basic stamp here is a common one. It has a cancellation which appears to be one employed in Ustsysolsk Zemstvo, but weakly struck. A perfect strike can be seen on a cover in the Faberge sale (Lot 2548) where it can be seen to read USTSYSOLSKAYAR ZEMSKAYAR POCHTA. 

But on this card, and unlike the two Moscow cancels, it does not come through as a raised impression on the front of the card. So could it be a fake?

You can safely conclude that the answer is “No” without elaborate Forensic examination of the cancellation. This is because the address is very helpful:

In the first line, partly obscured by the Zemstvo stamp you can work out that the card is addressed to Ustsysolsk in Vologda guberniya. That is the kind of address Forgers love to find. But what comes next in the second line is what decides the question: the sender has written the words “Zemstvo Post” and further specified what seems to be an address in the Zemstvo which is underlined in red (probably by a Zemstvo postal official).

Anyway, the address leaves me in no doubt that this is a genuine Imperial + Zemstvo combination card.

It also helps me with another card, the third one illustrated above, apparently locally sent within the Zemstvo. 
This is a New Year greetings card dated 24 XII 1912. On the romantic front of the card is the name “Maria” surrounded by flowers and the card is being sent to a woman called Maria.  In fact, it’s the same Maria at the same address as on the previous card. So I reckon that if the previous card is an entirely genuine item so is this card.

In conclusion, here is a third card sent to Ustsysolsk from Vologda in 1912. Same stamp, same Zemstvo Post cancellation, and genuine. And the condition is much more like that you should expect than that of the Forgeries which George Werbizky liked to show.

Click on Image to Enlarge