1919 B.N.R. Forgeries

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White Russia Map

 According to the National Archives, the chief of Mission, Colonel Ezovitova in the command of General Balakhovitch sent a memo to the Latvian Minister of Finance requesting the issue of stamps for their postal needs and to raise finances.

He requested 1 million of each of the 5, 10, 15, 50 Kopeck and 1 Ruble.
Approximately 500,000 would be imperforate with gum and no gum for philatelic sales and the other 500,000 gummed & perforated for postal use.


The above is said to be from a certification by the Mission of the stamps.
Note that the 15 Kopeck is different from the others.
There is speculation that this was a later reprint (1939), however Colonel Ezovitova requested that as the printing was completed that all printing plates be destroyed. The destruction was verified in notations of March 29
th 1920.


This chart shows the number and dates the stamps were received.

According to R. Polchaninoff (Rossica 1990)
The design was attributed to R. Zarinsh (also spelled Zarrins) who created banknotes and the first stamps of the RSFSR.


The drawing is from an album entitled “Illyustrirovannaya Rossiya” (Illustrated Russia), vol.3, page 252, published in 1897.

The 15 kopek values are 33.5 x 26.4 mm whereas the other values are 33 x 25.75 mm. There does not appear to be any evidence of a 1939 reprint.
From the table above one can note that the 15k
was delivered first and the others together at a later date.
It is just a small leap of imagination to speculate that there were some modifications made to the other values.
According to William Lesh in the 1985 Rossica Journal, there were 4 forgeries of this issue and possibly a 5th.


Left, Col. Esovitov head of the BNR Military Diplomatic Mission
Right General Balakhovich

Many sites note that these are General Balakhovitch issues but it does not appear that he had any significant role in their issue.
They are also described as propaganda labels (Cinderellas), however these were officially ordered and were not put to use due to the defeat and disbandment of the army.
So it may be more appropriate to designate them as issued but unused.

Genuine Characteristics
1. Lithographed
2. Size 15k 33.5 x 26.4, others 33 x 25.75 mm
3. Type, 15k Type1, others Type II
4. Perforated, Imperforate or 11.5 and 11.25 x 11.5 which is rarer.

 

Genuine perfed 11.5 issues

 


The 50k was apparently printed in light and dark blue


Above are the main genuine traits (except 15k)
3 dots on the shoulder, forgeries have 1, 2 or 0.
Also shading lines in the cap more distinct..
Large dash on the chin, absent or tiny in forgeries.


Genuine left, 5k,1k0,50k & 1r, right 15k. Note the “T” and the serif on the last letter


Type I forgery 15k

First Forgery
1. Lithographed
2. Size, 15k 33.5 X 26.5, others, 33.5 X 26.75
3. Very thin white paper
4. All similar to Type II
5. Imperforate or perfed 10.5 or 11.5
6. Well done except for the 15k


2 paper & color varieties


Left, genuine
Right, often described as a “reprint” but may be a Type I forgery
Only 2 dots on the shoulder
Dot instead of dash on chin.
Small eye
Cuff different
Lack of shading in the hat and other areas.


The sleeve shows distinct differences. Genuine left.


Forgery Type I perf 11.5


Perfed 10.5 & 11.5

Second Forgery
1. Typographed
2. 34 X 26.5 mm
3. Thick grayish white porous paper
4. All similar to Type II
5. Imperforate, Perf 11.5
6. Poor reproductions, values inserted by plugs (not aligned)


Typical of this forgery. the “T” has top points that curve upwards. Serif on last letter has a unique shape.



Due to the way the numeral blocks were inserted as plugs, they tend to be uneven, tilted and with broken frame lines.


The back (here enhanced) has a ribbed appearance

Third Forgery
1. Stereotyped
2. 15k 33.5 X 25.75, others 32.75 X 25.75
3. Ordinary white non porous paper
4. All similar to Type II
5. Imperforate, Perf 11.75 or 12


Face of man very squarish, eyes wide apart.


Block of 4 from a full sheet

Fourth Forgery
1. Photo-lithographed from the originals
2. 15k 33 X 26, others 32.75 X 25.75 or 26
3. Ordinary white non porous paper
4. 15k similar to Type I, others Type II
5. Imperforate only
6. Good but often poorly printed
7. Faint guide lines are generally visible
8. No dimple on the girl’s chin
There may have been 2 issues of this forgery as there is a light and dark variety of each value as shown below

These issues are easy to obtain and quite reasonable. ($5-$10/full set)
The problem is that generally some or all of the stamps will be forgeries as in the auction set below.


Above is a recap of the 4 forgery types

Were these issues ever postally used?
Initially, records indicate that there was intent to use them for mail.
Covers occasionally show up and some may have been made and cancelled as souvenirs.
Below, the postage far exceeds the rate required thereby indicating a potential souvenir issue.


This cancel & date is reported to be the only genuine one.

 In 1920 an article appeared by Georg Jaeger in which he describes documents from Col. Esovitov that note the stamps were used to pay for mail correspondence within the army group.
Jaeger apparently purchased a substantial part of the issue.


Georg Jaeger

In 1920 he publishes an article detailing the dates of issue and their postal use.
His role in the whole affair is dubious as he was a major stamp dealer who also edited the magazine that published the articles.
There is little doubt that he fabricated some covers with the cancel “Moloskovitsy 09/11/19”.
The number of stamps that were issued were far more than the relatively small army group and would have sufficed for decades.

There is also little evidence that any postal service even existed within the BNR.
By all accounts Col. Esovitov and Georg Jaeger were the driving force in producing what most Russia specialists consider to be a fantasy issue.

Footnote
This issue is considered to be the 2nd BNR issue.
The First BNR Issue was ordered by the Bielarusin National Republic on March 25, 1918. A set of three different plates were prepared, but it is believed they were not used until a printing from them was made in Lithuania in 1921.


This set is also found imperforate, cancelled and with varieties.

References;
– The Postage the Stamps of Russia, in 1917 – 1923. the Volume 3, The Armies. – Dr. Ceresa
–  Asobny ATRAD issue of Bulak-Balachovich. British Journal of Russian Philately, 1992, – Hornby, Stanley.
–  Asobny ATRAD Issue of the Bielarusin (Bielarussian) the National Republic, Rossica Journal. 1985,  106-107 -Lesh, William,
–  Asobny ATRAD of Bulak-Balakhovich, Rossica Journal 1964 & 1990 – Polchaninov R.
–  Historical the Background of the Asobny ATRAD the Stamps, Rossica Journal, 1964 – Dr. De Stackelberg
–  Special Detachment B.N.R. On the issue of speculation and fantastic issue stamps. Philately, 2010, – B. Batievsky
–  Notes on the B.N.R. Stamps Genuine and Forgeries. British Journal of Russian Philately. 1992, Fletcher & Leslie