Batum First Issue

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Setting up of the postal system was given by the British Occupation forces to the newly formed Batum Town Council and in March and April 1919 arrangements were finalized for the printing of this first issue at the old government printing works.

Before the issue of the “Tree” stamps of 1919, postage was paid in cash to the post master . A cachet with a space for the weight of t he item, whether registered, and the signature of the official was used, along with a negative seal showing the Imperial eagle .

Map courtesy of SWH


Back of period postcard showing all the issues we will cover.

The first issue was lithographed in sheets of 198 stamps in 11 horizontal rows of 18 stamps. The transfer group consisted of four subjects, sub types A, B, C, & D.
The numbers printed are as follows;
5 Kopeck – 51,284
10 Kopeck – 51,482
50 Kopeck – 206,120
1 Ruble – 102,832
3 Ruble – 26,522
5 Ruble – 20,922

Samples of the genuine issues



Differences between the Kopeck and Ruble values
Primary differences – there are many others but some may not show up well on all stamps.
The top letters especially the reverse R and the A.
The curve direction of the central branch.
The number of lines in the ladder, 5 in the Kopeck, 6 in the Ruble values.
The number of dots above the right 5, 6 in the Kopeck, 6 in the Ruble values.

Sub types of the original issues
As these were printed in transfer groups of 4, constant features can further point to genuine stamps. They may not always be clear on all stamps.

The 5 Kopeck transfer traits are difficult to distinguish as there are many plate/printing faults.
They are described as follows:
A. Scroll Letters ‘ TU ‘ linked by a double loop of colour.
B. Scroll Small spot to left of letter ‘ YA’.
C. White spot between left hand value tablet and ‘K’ of ‘KOP’ •
D. Scroll Two strokes between letters ‘ TU’.

10 Kopeck transfer types
Type A & B

Type C & D

50 Kopeck transfer types
Due to the colour yellow, traits are difficult to observe.

Type A Broken C
Type B  has a colour spot after the letter T
Type C, dot of white over the NO
Type D Both 0’s nearly touch the frames.

1 Ruble transfer types

Type A, small dot in right numeral frame.
Type B, dash in left numeral frame.
Type C, dash under left 1.
Type D, dash in right numeral frame.

3 Ruble transfer types

Type A, dot top left of right 3.
Type B, scroll projection at left, on leg of letter ‘CH’.
Type C, dot almost touching the left 3 inside.
Type D, dash above and below the right 3.

5 Ruble transfer types
I have added all of the types on 1 copy

Type A, dot on top of K
Type C, dash on right numeral frame.
Type D, dash of left numeral frame.

Proofs and Trials
No essays or color proofs are recorded so beware of such claims.
Black prints were produced at the Printing Works but apparently they were destroyed under strict supervision.
The supervision may have been lax as some found their way into specialized collections shortly afterwards.
I have seen a notation that these proofs have corner guide lines.

The Forgeries
There are 2 very common types that are easily distinguishable, a very rare 3rd type and possibly a few other sub-types.
We will describe them as Types I, II & III.
NOTE – A common misconception is that forgeries are easily distinguished by the K A not being joined at the base. Suffice it to say that this is not a valid constant.
The  type I & II forgeries were based on the original Ruble design so the Kopeck forgeries are immediately recognized by the differences in the original Kopeck & Ruble issues.
The type I is on the left, type II on the right.

5K Forgeries


Type I & type II
1. & 2. the reverse R & A do not match the genuine.
3. The limb curves the wrong way.
4. 6 lines in the ladder instead of 5
5. 7 dots above the right 5 instead of 6.
6. In the type I, the top row of 6 dots is followed by a squarish feature with a smaller round dot below it. In the Type II, only the lower round dot is present.
7. This feature is the distinguishing feature of the type II, the central coloured shape of the rose is open at the top.
The second round shape below it is also open on the right side on all the type II’s
The type I forgery is on white paper with loss of detail.
The type II is on a rougher yellowish white paper with much more loss  of detail.

10K Forgeries


Type I & II
The curved foot on the left value of the right stamp is found on many of this 10K type

50K Forgeries


Type I & II

1R Forgeries


Type I & II

3R Forgeries


Type I & II

5R Forgeries


Type I & II
Note the dot above the first top letter of the type I seems to be on most the genuine and all the type I but not on the type II.

Type III forgery
This is VERY scarce so the chances of finding one are slim.
It has very unique features and is found with an unusually small overprint but rarely without.
Generally those who may think they have a type III probably have a very worn  issue.
The actual type III as shown below (right) compared to the original is very crude especially the numerals.
The frame varies from very thick to thin and many details are lacking.


The overprints will follow ……

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
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