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After Ukraine declared its independence on January 22, 1918, artists Antin Sereda and Heorhii Narbut were assigned to design the first stamps of the newly independent republic.
The first “stamps” were printed on card stock, not onto paper to be used as money-tokens (18.04.1918).
Although they resembled regular stamps and were perforated 11.5, the heavier card stock made them more durable.
Their size was 26 X 31mm
They were used in place of coins, as a metal shortage prevented the Ukrainian government from creating any coins.
The back had an inscription that read “On par with coins”
Some were used as postage and such covers are rare.
Three months later, on July 18, 1918, these same designs were printed onto thin white paper to create Ukraine’s first postage stamps.
Their size was 24.5 X 29mm.
Catalogs list a perf 11.5 at 10-15X value of the imperforate.
Although these stamps are relatively common, they were forged in great quantities.
There is only one set of forgeries of the shahiv issue and that is found in a sheet printing of 12 by 7.
The easiest way to identify forgeries is to examine the paper. Instead of using thin, white paper, the forgeries were printed on thin, shiny, light brown, semi-transparent paper somewhat like glassine paper.
They are about 0.5mm smaller on both sides.
It appears they may only be without gum.
NOTE – as the original dies wore out, the distinction between genuine and forgery becomes more difficult.
Genuine and forgery comparisons
Genuine left, forgery right.
The lines on the left petal are coarse and not parallel.
The flower on the right is not shaded in.
The top letters are thinner.
The dots above the I are smaller.
The central diamond is not filled in – some genuine stamps are only partially filled in.
The end of the mustache touches the lines of shading.
The lines inside the 20 are shaped differently.
The trident has a broken section.
The letters are different. The b & K are noticeably inclined.
The Currency Issue
I will not spend much time on this as these stamps are technically not philatelic in nature but numismatic. They generally are found on currency auctions.
As well, it was far more profitable for forgers to produce currency stamps rather than packet trade ones.
The 40sh and 50sh were obviously the main targets. The 40sh has about 6 known forgeries, the 50sh has over 40
The following are genuine to the best of my knowledge
The forgeries of these stamps are often crude and it is relatively easy to compare with the genuine article.
A 50sh forgery – note in particular how the frame of the posthorns is different from the genuine. There are also differences in the letters on the reverse.