1919 Army of the North

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Soloviev Civil War Catalog

Bulak-Balakhovich who had proclaimed himself head of the Belorussian Peoples Republic placed an order with the Latvian Government Printing Office for a series of stamps consisting of 5, 10, 15, 50 kopeck and l ruble (perforated and imperforated). The stamps were designed by R. Zarrin who was the artist for many stamps of Imperial Russia. Unfortunately, I do not have any of the perforated issues which according to the Rossica Journal are perf. 11 1/2

ОКСА – Особый Корпус Северной Армии – Special Corps of the Northern Army

These five values were printed in two panes of 100 (10 x 10) side by side in tete-beche configuration.

They were typographed and the 5, 10 and 15 kopeck values were printed on an ordinary medium thick paper The 20 and 50 kopeck values were printed on the same paper and also upon a thin hard pelure paper.
All stamps have a thin frame line which often shows breaks which can easily be plated.
Some stamps have a distinctly doubled frame line. They are found with and without gum.

There are two distinct series of forgeries of this issue which were printed in large numbers.
The plates used eventually wore out giving the impression of further forgeries.
This has proven to be the most difficult attempt I have made in securing examples of the 2 forgeries compounded by;
1. The various papers used.
2. The condition of the dies at the time of printing both for the forgeries and the originals.
3. The minor differences in the forgery types.
4. The fact that so little is known of these that many experts have differing views on what is genuine and the forgery types.

The first series of forgeries is lithographed on a medium thick :pale buff paper without gum which is thicker than the normal paper used with the genuine stamps. They are not printed tete-beche as with the originals.
It can be found perfed 13 but with one side imperf.

 
Genuine examples, note;
The double ring around the 5 which is distinct or lightly filled in.
The shape of the chevron and the cross.
The positioning and spaces of the dashes & dots in the inner frame which are fairly consistent.
The most important feature is the letters in terms of clarity, size and position.


Type I & Type II forgeries
Type I the cross & chevron have rounded corners
The circles around the 5 will show some of the double lines
The dashes in the inner frame are heavily filled in.
The lettering is indistinct.
Type II the lettering is even more indistinct. In particular the second 1of 1919 is barely visible and the r at the end is just a blob.
The circles around the 5’s are completely filled in.
The dots and dashes of the inner frame are scattered and irregular.


Genuine examples, the cancel is undetermined.
The breaks in the areas noted appear fairly consistent in the examples I have seen.
Note the double lines in the swords and the horizontal and vertical lines in the frame.


Forgeries Type I & II
Type I the  horizontal and vertical lines in the frame are very irregular and missing in many places.
The frame lines around the swords are a single thick line.
The words below the numerals are indistinct.
The cross has an irregular shape.
Type II the horizontal and vertical lines in the frame are better executed than the Type I.
The paper is a light cream color and the overall print is heavier and darker.


Genuine example
Note the size of the lower numerals
The shape and size of the octagonal frame.
The outer frame design.
The shape of the ribbons.

Type I & II forgeries
Type I  the octagonal frame is a different shape and size.
The lower numerals are smaller.
The cross is larger.
The C & A are not joined.
Type II is essentially the same as the Type I which may be due to the uncommon use of forgers using forgeries instead of the genuine to make new impressions.
The key here is the dark paper colour which gives the stamp a brown colour.


Genuine example on wove & pelure paper
Note the lettering especially the 1919.
The shape of the ribbons and the pair of lower flower designs.
The shape of the scalloped frame.


A Type I
Very thick frame
Second 1 linked to letters above.
Poor overall detail


Finding sample of these proved the most difficult of the series.
Type II is found on thin almost pelure paper as this example
The overall print is very poor.
The outer frame lines are much thicker.
The 1919 is now 2 blobs with a central line.


Genuine examples on different paper.
The right one is possibly an earlier print.
Note the clarity of the text.
The shape of the cross – the central member is not parallel.


Type I & II forgeries
Type I the cross has rounded edges.
The overall design is heavy and dark.
The lines in the inner circle are almost invisible
The text is illegible.
It is found on thick buff colour paper and thin whitish pelure paper as with the genuine.
Type II has many of the Type I issues but overall is better and cleaner.
The key distinction is the olive green colour instead of the bright green of the genuine stamps.
It is also printed on pelure paper.


The 50k was also printed as money

Postal Use?
There is much debate on this topic.
A few cancelled postcards were found in the 1920’s in a post office with the words “on hold”. This seems logical given the changing circumstances of the times.
I have seen on forum posts that the stamps with of the railway station of “Moloskovitsy” are the “only” genuine.
The station was used for a very short time but evidence of postal use is lacking. More likely the workers retreated to other locations and the canceller was used to produce covers and CTO blocks which can be found with the postmark.

Overall covers can fall into several types.
Commercial/private cancels applied at the P.O.
Covers from stamp dealers sent through the P.O.
Covers to stamp dealers even with “arrival” stamps
Unaddressed covers with genuine stamps that were later cancelled and addressed.


This cover is addressed to  G. Jaeger a dealer who was involved in other forgeries. There is little hope it is genuine.


A commercial cover and most likely faked.


Typical cancels found on this issue with the “Moloskovitsy”  postmark on the left. Both covers above have the same cancel.