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Wednesday 14 January 2015

John Bulat on the First General Issue of Ukraine 1918

An article by Roman Procyk in the latest Ukrainian Philatelist (# 112, "Shahivky and Perforations: 50 Years after Ian Baillie's Pioneering study") reminded me of one of the stupidest remarks I have ever read in a stamp catalogue.

In his much-used book of Ukrainian Philately,John Bulat lists the First General Issue of Ukraine, including what he regards as the officially perforated varieties (which command a premium on the imperforates) and then adds, "Privately rouletted perforations and rough perforations have also been reported but these command no premium" (p 3).

Really? Since when have postmaster provisional perforations or perforations made privately for use in the mail rooms of large companies not had a philatelic interest? And when you come across them - which in the case of the First General Issue of Ukraine is rarely -  do you sell them to your chums at "no premium"?

I don't think I have seen the "Official" perforations postally used on cover, but at some point I acquired a stock of Cancelled to Order multiples of the 50 Shahiv, all cancelled KIEV 23 10 18, as on the block of 4 with full gum shown below, which may provide reliable information about when and where they were issued:

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Perforations or roulettes ordered up by local postmasters are, at this period, likely to show up on Money Transfer Forms or Parcel Cards. I forget where they came from, but I once had quite a stock of 20 Shahiv stamps crudely perforated - sometimes only vertically - and clearly used on formular cards in vertical strips. They were all cancelled TROSTYANETS and in the case of those that remain with me they are dated 27 10 18. The stamps had been soaked from the formular cards after those had been pierced with punch holes: see the two strips below where the punch hole damage is visible on the reverse. Curiously, other values do not appear to have been perforated at Trostyanets, or at least that is true of this multiple cancelled 11 10 18:

Click on Image to Magnify

In 1918, Ukraine's economy was more active than Russia's and it would have made sense for banks or other businesses with busy mailing rooms to perforate imperforate stamps. There was already a precedent: the Imperial Arms imperforates of Russia issued from 1917 on had already been subject to private perforating, most frequently on the 5 kopeck. But I cannot show a cover which would link a perforation to a particular company. As loose stamps, like the one below, private perforations cannot be fully assessed. But note that once again it has an October 1918 date:

Click on Image to Magnify

The Zelonka collection contained quite a number of private perforations and roulettes on the Shahiv stamps, some of which were in Lot 50 at the 2011 Corinphila sale (Start 3000 CHF; sold 6000 CHF)

Get past John Bulat's stupid remark and a specialised but rewarding area of collecting opens up, as Roman Procyk illustrates in his interesting article

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:

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