Batum Surcharged Stamps – Part 1

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These overprints are forged in large quantities and expect anything “signed” or without recent certificates (in the case of high CV’s) are probably forgeries.
Anything in large strips or blocks should be viewed with care.

A period postcard back showing the chronological order of the overprints we will review

The 10R surcharge on arms issue
After the First Aloe Tree issue, there was apparently a need for a 10R stamp.
It was to be used for posting of large documents from the civil authorities to the British military but I have not seen confirmation of this.
These 10 Ruble stamps, required at short notice, were produced by surcharging sheets and part sheets of old Imperial adhesives of the 1909-12 Arms Type issue.
They were prepared at the Post Office in the presence of representatives of the Batum Town Council and postal officials. Any errors or defective prints were destroyed on the spot.
It is reported that 2 almost identical handstamps were used. The first handstamp has a narrow ‘ 0 ‘ which tends to appear more square at the top left hand corner, while the second handstamp has a wider and more elliptical ‘0’.
The quantities produced (varies with author)
1 k. orange, imperf. 2350
3 k. carmine-red, imperf. 3,600
5 k. brown-lilac, pert. 3 50
10/7 k. blue, perf. 314.
The ink used is a very good forgery indicator as it permeated through the stamp and left a pronounced image on the back.
Unfortunately, a few forgeries do have the ink transfer.
Given the low production it is amazing how many can be found on auctions??
With 100 stamps to a sheet,  some 28 and 36 sheets of the first two values were handstamped, only 3 to 4 of the 5k. and 10/7k. were produced giving rise to them being the main target of forgers.
2 things required if you are going to get one of these, a recent certificate from a competent expert, a picture of the reverse.

There are unofficial reprints which include errors, inverts, tete-beche and other varieties.
The ink was different and does not show through very well.
The originals were apparently produced under strict supervision and any defects or errors were destroyed so any such varieties are most probably  reprint/forgeries.

The original issues
SG 9 & SG 10
These 2 are by far the most expensive of the series and at least 10 types of forgeries exist.

Genuine traits

1. The T serif curls on itself and attaches to the body
2. The left side of the A is more slanted.
3. All the Y’s, the tail curls on itself.
4. A square dot slightly above the baseline.
5. A large round dot close to the letter and slightly above the baseline.
6. A large round dot close to the letter

Size characteristics;
Length of top line 15.5 mm. (from left hand serif at base of ‘ B’ t o include the point following ‘ OB’ )
Length of bottom line 15.0 mm. (from left hand serif at base of ‘R’ to include the point following right hand ‘B’ )
Height of top line 3.0mm. (Taking the measurement of the letter ‘M’ top to bottom)
Height of bottom line 3.25 mm. (Taking measurement of zero of ’10’ top to bottom)
Distance between top and bottom line 10.0 mm. (From base of ‘M’ to point of figure ‘l’)

4 types are known and has the base stamps were easily obtained probably on account of the looting of P.O. stocks in the revolutionary and civil war period.

A basic description of the forgeries:
Forgery no. 1
This is a very dangerous forgery whose creators have tried faithfully to copy the nuances of the original handstamp. The broken serif on the right hand arm of the ‘T’ is there, and full stops are in their appropriate places. Excepting a bluish tinge to the grey ink, the overall appearance looks good. However, the ink fails to go through the paper, and on examples cancelled, the datestamp is a rather poor imitation in which the outer and inner circles are of equal thickness which they are not on the original
Forgery no. 2
Seemingly restricted to the two scarcer values , this forged surcharge is applied in rather oily grey-black ink, and although an oily mark can be seen through the stamp , the ink does not come through the paper as in the genuine . In form some of the letters are wanting.
The cross of the ‘A’ is only half way down the letter (it should be two- thirds); although the right hand serif of the ‘T’ has been removed the arm is otherwise complete but extends too far . Cancelled specimens do not seem to exist.
Forgery no. 3
A forgery so far restricted to 1k in which the ink does come through the paper. Fortunately, there are serifs on either arm of the ‘T’  and the ‘0’ is much too narrow.
Forgery no. 4
A crude attempt also only on the 1k.. The ink is very black. The letters are not true to form. The cross of the ‘A’ is much too high. The ‘U’ is wrongly drawn. The ’10’ are only poor imitations. Because of the very black ink, the letters do show through the stamp but the ink does not permeate the paper.

2  crude forgeries, bad letter alignment, dots wrong, faulty letters.


More examples with badly formed letters, dots wrong position and  size, note the angle of the Cyrillic b’s.

This left stamp sold at a reputable auction as “signed” but has some issues when compared to the BPA certified one on the right.
First of all the inking just looks too good as if it did not permeate..
The M of Batum appears tilted.
The top curve of the b’s appears to be too square

One of the forgeries that seems prominent in the US has a flat tail on the Y instead of a curl.

Bogus issue

It appears that some zealous P.O. employees created their own handstamp and used the genuine canceller to produce a bogus issue to meet the demands of European dealers.
However, the handstamp was not the same. The letters were quite different – capital letters are without serifs. There is also a stop after the left hand abbreviation for RUBLE, omitted in the originals.
We noted that generally, faulty originals were destroyed, however, this bogus issue has inverts and sideways printing.
The common cancels are dated  29. 12.19, 14. 5.20, and 6.7.20. They were applied with a genuine canceller.

First British Occupation Aloe Tree Issue
By 1920 the volume of the first aloe tree and the subsequent surcharge were very depleted.
To take advantage of inflation and increased postal rates, it was decided to print a new series with new values and colours and to overprint them with the words “BRITISH OCCUPATION”
As a result very few if any unprinted ones would have been available to forgers so one can assume forged overprints are on forged stamps.
They were lithographed in transfer blocks of six stamps, A,B.C,D,E,F on sheets of 482 stamps in 24 rows of 18.
The paper used for this issue is a yellowish buff with a light grey tinge and a thickish yellow gum
Quantities produced;
5K. yellow green (28,894)
10K. deep blue (28,512)
25K. orange-yellow (31,892)
1R. pale blue (48,161)
2R. pink. (366,723)
3R. violet (257,904)
5R. brown (263,789)
7R. red brown (57,118)

2014 SG catalog
Despite the generally low CV’s, they were forged in great quantities.

The First Series Genuine issues

Transfer Marks
A. Scroll Spot immediately above fir st ‘A’
B. Left hand value tablet spot under ‘5’
C. Noticeable spot in NE corner of letter ‘P’ of ‘ KOP’
D. Frame break at SE corner
E. Thick blob on frame opposite bottom right hand step
F. Left hand value tablet ‘Flag’ of ‘5’ takes up most of vertical stem.

10K, 4 of the 6 transfer marks indicated
A. Break in lower right frame.
B. A cut into the solid colour close to the frame at the right 8 mm. up from the corner where there is a group of dots.
D. A dot in the right side of the T.
E. A break in the frame.

Transfer marks:
A. Left hand value tablet ‘2’ just touches the side
B. Scroll Spot over second ‘A’ of ‘BATUMSKAYA’
C. Right Frame Break opposite ‘A’ of ‘POCHTA ‘
D. Left hand value tablet ‘2’ and ‘5’ wide apart; ‘2’ almost touches left side.
E. Right hand value tablet spot above ‘2’
F. Left hand value tablet spot inside ‘2’ near ball

Transfer marks
A. Scroll spot under left hand arm of ‘T’ of ‘POCHTA’
B. Top frame Break slightly right of centre
C. Top rame two breaks towards the middle
D. Right hand value tablet spot near SE corner
E. Right rame a spot near SE corner beyond frame – difficult to see
F. Left hand value tablet stroke beneath and close to ‘l’. ‘B’ and ‘C’ also show strokes under left hand ‘l

Transfer marks:
A. Right frame weakening -sometimes a break near SE corner
B. Scroll spot above ‘U’ of ‘BATUMSKAYA’
C. Scroll left arm of ‘K’ said to be higher than usual
D. Outer frame under ‘U’ of ‘RUB’, background and frame joined by stroke
E. Left hand value tablet break in top of ‘2’
F. Right frame break in frame about one-third way down

Transfer marks:
A. Scroll line of colour joining ‘YA’ to bottom of scroll
B. Outer frame blob of colour at SW corner
C. White line pointing SE below letter ‘R’ of ‘RUB’
D. Scroll right leg of ‘K’ broken
E. Right hand value tablet noticeable colour spot to SW of ‘3’
F. Scroll spot at top right of ‘T’ in ‘POCHTA’

Transfer marks:
A. Scroll sloping stroke above second ‘A’ of ‘BATUMSKAYA’
B. Said to be a spot of colour near SE corner of stamp
C. Above scroll, near ‘K’, small triangular piece of white
D. Scroll curl of ‘B’ is broken
E. Scroll sloping stroke above ‘K’
F. Scroll half moon of colour on edge of scroll above ‘K’

Transfer marks:
A. A dot above the M.
B. A break in the frame.
C. A dot in the 7.
D. A small dash left of the 7.
E. The 7 is placed high as in B.
F. A break in the left frame.

W. Hughes has another series of identifying the transfers;
“A” Thin faint serif to left, at top of ‘R’. Top of second ‘C’ usually broken
Generally (but not always) there is a black spot slightly to the left of the top, right leg’ of ‘N’
“B” The ‘U’ has black spot immediately above top of the right arm
“C” The ‘P’ has small piece out of the extreme right rounded portion (centre)
Generally a black spot above middle of ‘T ‘ in OCCUPATI ON
“D” ‘S’ is broken in the middle
Top ends of ‘U’ tend to meet, and left arm is slightly higher than the right
“E” ‘B’ of ten has black spot before it at the top level
“F” Bottom of ‘ B’ at left projects forward
First ‘0’ is slightly above the level of the following ‘ C’

Type I Forgeries

1. H about 10% larger than other letters.
2. S about 15% larger than other letters.
3.  smaller than other letters.
4. Lower part of  O tends to be narrower than the top.
NOTE the forgeries lack serifs



A sheet sold by a European auction house – clearly a Type I forgery.

The slanted foot which can be found on many of the stamps in the above forgery.
Beware of large blocks and sheets, they are not common other than forgeries.

Type II Forgeries

1. Wide B particularly the bottom half.
2. Wide top R and leg is straight
3. Wide top of T.
4. Wide top of P.
5. N is larger than preceding letters.
6. S has a flat top & bottom.
NOTE the forgeries lack serifs


There is also a unique Type III which is often wrongly diagnosed.
It is rare and easily recognized by the crude features, thick and varying frame and especially the small height of the overprint.
It is compared for size (from a catalog) with the original below

Second British Occupation Aloe Tree Issue
Quantities issued;
1R. orange-brown 501,424
2R. bright blue 201,432
3R . pink 200.816
5R . chocolate 203, 280
7R. yellow 203, 280
10R. blue-green 202,972
15R. violet 102,256
25R. scarlet 153,692
50R. dark blue 53,900
These stamps were printed from newly made transfers of six subjects and issued in sheets of 308 (22 x 14) stamps.
All the issues except the 50R have guide lines around the transfer blocks of 6. The features repeat in all the values.
As with the first series there are 6 sub types for each value. It is however too much to identify each value sub types in this article.

2014 SG catalog

The Second Series Genuine issues
I will only post a couple of examples for the sake of article length.

Note the guide lines that sometimes show up on individuals.

The transfer features of the issues

Overprinted revenues

Type I & Type II Forgeries
These are identical to the First Issue so I will not repeat it here or go into many examples.
Forged overprints are on forged base stamps.
Type I & II

Type II & I

Type I & II

Type I & multiple ovpt. fake

The Postage Stamps of Russia 1917-23 – R.J. Ceresa
Know Your Stamps – Frank Aretz
Fake Marks of Batum – Flegchin J. Soviet Philatelist
Overprint Forgeries – A. Charles Strong
Postage Stamps of Batum – W. E. Hughes
Georgia/Batum – Barefoot, Hall
British occupation of Batum : postal history and postage stamps – Ashford
Focus on Forgeries – V. Tyler
Excerpts from the Kohl Briefmarken-Handbuch
Falsification of Batum Stamps- Krivtsov V. Soviet Philatelist
Investigation of falsifications of stamps of Russia during the Civil War – Pashkov BS Soviet philatelist
Various articles from the Rossica  and other journals