1921 Famine Relief

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Pomgol was the name of two organizations created in the Russian RSFSR during the Russian famine of 1921. The name is an abbreviation of the Russian term “Relief for Starving”.
Initially, scientists, artists, church leaders, public activists, many of which were of non-Bolshevik persuasion tried to establish some form a relief aid but the government disbanded this Pomgol in 1921 and established its own.
Pomgol took an active part in requisition of Russian Orthodox Church valuables. There is some thought that Lenin felt that by weakening the Church, the peasantry would be more apt to accept the “wisdom” of the bolsheviks.
This issue to aid victims was printed in small quantities (154,256 for the brown, 189,704 for the green, 437,248 for the red and 66,600 for the blue), so the proliferation of forgeries was a logical consequence.

The Genuine Red Issue


The areas that will be of prime concern are;
1. The 2 letters that are joined together
2. The number of loops
3. The shape of this building
4. The white line in the roof edge
5. The shape of the paddle-wheel
6. The spacing between the walking stick and the shadow.
7. The sharp outline of the clouds

Each of the genuine stamps come in 2 types of equal quantities

The main and obvious characteristic is the chimney which is shaded in one but not the other.

The Green Type 1&2

A color variety

An offset or more appropriately “setoff” caused by the imprint of one wet ink sheet onto another

A perfin variety

A Dark Brown variety

A Red Brown variety

A rare proof

On Cotton Cream paper

On Cotton white Paper – Type 1 & 2

Plate variety “Clouds”

Paper Fold – a not uncommon feature with these stamps

The Forgeries

The Genuine for comparison

One of the most accepted traits of the forgery is item 6 – the walking stick/shadow separation.
However several forger were involved so this is NOT necessarily a sign of the forgery as is shown below.

Type 1 Forgery
– appears as the most common
This applies to all the colors.

1. The cloud lines are not well defined but this may dependend on inking – so not conclusive
2. The 2 letters are not joined
3. Added loops in the ornament – see below
4. Lacking in definition
5. The stick and shadow are separated.

The same forgery in Red

Type 2 Forgery
– appears to be less common

Here we note that the stick and shadow do merge
The letters are joined
The loop ornament is correct
The main added features are;
Overall, not well defined
The window bottom right has a large white dot above it
There is no white line in the roof edge

The Blue Genuine

The areas of interest in the genuine are;
The face and hair features
The first aid bag on the ground in particular the shape and button
The left hand of the injured, primarily the details of the fingers
The overall fine details

Genuine pair

Another Offset (Set-off)

Type 1 Forgery

Well executed and good detail other than the framework
The hair of both persons is incorrect
The medical bag has no button

Type 2 Forgery

Details are coarser especially lines in the faces that are now blotches
The medical bag is slightly different
Letters are cruder
The main one is the lack of fingers in the left hand of the wounded.
I suspect the cancel is a forgery also