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Monday 30 December 2013

New Year's Resolutions


I don't go around asking for discounts from dealers. But I am going to start in the New Year: if the Dealer has pencilled their price on a cover, I am going to ask for 10% discount. It's like a stamp hinge: you can remove a hinge from a mint stamp, but it leaves a trace. You can rub out a pencilled price, but it always leaves a trace - quite often a crease where your rubber snags against the paper.

If the dealer has added other random thoughts "Unusual destination", " TPO", "Early date" ... then I will ask for 20% discount.

If some Italian expert or Roger Calves has autographed the cover, I will ask for 10% discount for each autograph.

I suggest you do the same. Only in this way will we kill the lazy habits of some dealers. The place for a cover is inside a plastic holder and the place for the price is on the holder. The place for an Expert Opinion is on a Photo Certificate. There is really no room for debate about this.


I am going to sell most of my remaining cheap and bulky stock through Worthing Stamp Auctions in March. UK readers please note!

I have maybe 50 stockbooks and boxes with "back up" stock of the stamp issues in which I specialise - mostly Ukraine and Transcaucasia. Nothing very much happens with this material - it just gives me a sense of familiarity, a sense of how these stamps should look when they are genuine ... It's an expensive luxury which takes up a lot of space. I am going to drive the stock down to Heinrich Koehler in Wiesbaden and consign them for their March auction. European readers please note!

I will continue to consign nice items between 10€ and 100€ to the Internet auction Everyone have a look!


I am going to focus on Russia - mostly Bolshevik-controlled Russia - in the period 1917 - 1921, the period of the Civil War and "War Communism". If I need something else to keep me busy, then I am tempted by the first Moscow police fiscals in use from the 1860s onwards. Don't ask me why, but if you have any for sale, feel free to make an offer :)


It will continue :)

Saturday 7 December 2013

German Occupation of Crimea 1918

Click on Image to Magnify

I sometimes forget just how extensive was  the German Occupation of former Imperial Russia after the Treaty of Brest Litovsk. It is worth Googling and looking at the map! 

Here for example is an ordinary business letter from the port of KERCH on the extreme eastern tip of the Crimean peninsula, but occupied by Germany in 1918 after the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. It was posted there on 9 11 18 just two days before the general Armistice of 11 11 18 and despite all the military and political upheavals, appears to have arrived in Munich. Though the cachet on the reverse - the number 499 in circle - does not tell us when,  I think it is a regular Munich distribution mark, not a censor cachet which could have been applied anywhere along the route.

Though the address is typed in German, "Germany" is written in Cyrillic at the top left.

It's the Tariff of 25 kopecks which made me look twice at this apparently unremarkable letter. But if the port had been under the control of the Ukrainian National republic at this time, I would expect the stamp to have a Trident overprint - tolerance of unoverprinted stamps ended in October. So who was in charge of the civilian postal service at this date?

The cancellation is one which continues in use during the Civil War - I have seen it on Denikin stamps.

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: