Chassepot Issue 1920

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Chassepot Issue (also Paris Issue) DECEMBER 2, 1920 –
(Click on the images for a larger picture)

There are as many as 3 sets of forgeries of these stamps.
Some consider them reprints but since printing the first issue was stopped due to the Red Army entering Armenia it is very unlikely that there were any further printings. The Russians declined to validate the stamps. It was even a crime for anybody to use the stamps so many catalogs consider them as unissued.
There is thought that there were shipments of stamps in the amount of  1,200,000 or 1,300,000 prior to the Soviet takeover.
One of the “trusted” carriers apparently sold a shipment to European dealers.
The stamps were designed by Arshag Fetvadjian and printed by the Chasepot Printing Works in Paris. The printing company destroyed the remainders because Fetvadjian was unable to pay.  Fetvadjian probably kept a large stock of stamps, proofs and specimens which he may have sold to Paris dealers in 1924.
The forgers are apparently unknown but they were probably responding to the demand between 1924 and 1930.

The Original Set

A Counterfeit Set

Acknowledgements to TSF members who provided samples.

The genuine Coat of Arms



Original left
The size is 221/2 x 30mm
The left side vertical outside frame is thicker
The quality of the paper and the glue
The gum is Tragacanth (natural gum)
Forgery right
The size is 23 x 30mm
The frame is generally thinner (There are some with thicker frame)
The gum  is starch
The colors tend to be brighter
The top letters and numerals tend to have a lot of white areas in them.

A rare proof

The genuine Mont Ararat

These empty frames show up quite regularly on auctions and are listed as color essays.
They come in a variety of colors and variations of these colors


I am not sure of the nature of the imperforate.
There are differences with the perfed version particularly in all the bottom ornaments.

These 2 have the same issues as the 50r above>
Both have much weaker colors


Genuine left
MOUNT ARARAT. 25, 5O and 1OOr,
The sea waves and the sky are calm (less and mild waves)
The size is 231/2 x 39mm
The denominations are solid color
Forgery right
There are more sea waves, dark shadows, different sky
It is 24l/2 x 39mm
Some  numerals/letters are hollow

The genuine Woman Spinning

Genuine Invert Block



Genuine left
WOMAN SPINNING. 40 and 70 R.
The background shadow behind the woman is very fine and less visible
The size is 23.l/2x39mm
The numerals are full
Forgery right
Background is very dark and more visible
The size is 24.1/2x39mm )
Some numerals are hollow

eBay inverted reprint

Fiscals or Forgeries?

There are conflicting stories on these overprints
The stamps from 1 to 15 rubles were overprinted and used for fiscal purposes. Many documents with used examples.
The overprints were later forged. All known sources only describe the usage of these overprints on the lower values. Overprints on higher values are forgeries. No used piece on a genuine document is known!

Also there is another thought that the originals never reached Armenia because inflation requirements precluded their use.
This theory suggests that all of the stamps are forgeries produced by someone who had access to the overprint stamp.

Picture from a catalog

Specimen Stamps

The story with these is that the first five stamps were overprinted in pairs and send to the UPU for recognition. The UPU never officially gave an opinion and later those stamps found there way to collectors. Specimen overprints on higher values than 15r are not described in the literature on proof and specimens and they may well be forgeries.
Auctions regularly provide large blocks, perfed and imperforate specimens of all the issues.