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The first illustrated stamps of the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic (ASSR) were printed in the Constantinople printing press owned by a Mr. Yessayan.
The artist Sarkis Khatchaturian was commissioned to design the stamps.
Yessayan’s printing house in Constantinople was commissioned for the printing of the stamps. The first stamps reached Yerevan in the end of 1921. To cover the cost of the printing, Yessayan kept 40% of the stamps and with the right to sell them.
The stamps all have so-called “secret markings”, but it is doubtful these were anti-forgery marks but rather they were probably guide marks or errors that were not removed.
There are at least 3 “family” groups of forged stamps but I do not have enough specific details on all of them. Each one has particular characteristics.
There is some speculation that one of the families and possibly the better quality one may have been a Soviet government production to bring in extra revenues.
Overall, the forgeries are very deceptive.
The forgeries are generally termed “Reprints” but it has been shown that older collections prior to 1935 that had no more additions were basically devoid of these “reprints”
These issues are seldom described in catalogs, a few specialized one do, the Russian/English Lyapin 2009 gives these issues a good representation.
Note also that much of the design and letters are narrower than the original and different.
The tip of the sickle has shading lines unlike the genuine which is solid.
The bottom horizontal background line has a large space.
The shading lines in the sickle are horizontal instead of oblique.
The above is possibly a Type II forgery notable by the thin top left numeral
NOTE – there are at least 2 other forgeries, one of which is very coarse.
These may be considered the “Reprint” or a Type II forgery.
The secret marks are missing.
The doubling outer frame line that appears in several places is a main trait.
Note also the top right corner that appears to have an added line.
NOTE – It is noted that there are 3 forgery types both perfed and imperforated.
The Type I has a misshapen background in the top left corner. Also the inner and outer frame lines are not joined as in the genuine.
The Type III has the extension lines but the stem of the upper right flower is broken
Size 29 x 21.5 mm
220 stamps per sheet
Secret markings: the top horizontal line runs long on the left side, the left
vertical line runs long towards the bottom and the right vertical line runs
long on both the bottom and the top.
Also there is a small protrusion in the lower left arch.
The rays have a graduated white space on the right side’
This is probably a Type II
No corner protrusions, the rays have no white spaces on the right and the bottom horizontal shading lines are more separated.
NOTE – there is a dot of color in the top left arch. This is often found in this type but not always.
The 3rd forgery seems scarce. Apparently the inner frame that joins the numeral 3 is broken and it somtimes has a broken foot on the left arch.
Size 31 x 22.5 mm
220 stamps per sheet
Secret markings: bottom horizontal line runs long on the left side by 0.3mm.
On some the top right may show a slight extension.
This may me a latter print as the brickwork in the arches is barely visible.
Purple-brown: perf and imperf.
size 30 x 22.5 mm.
220 stamps per sheet.
Secret markings: the left vertical line runs long downwards by 0.2 –
0.5 mm, the internal horizontal line runs long on the right side by 0.2 mm and almost joins the outer frame.
Some stamps are marked with either one of these two variations, while
others have both.
All the stamps have the bleeding in the 2 spots indicated.
Slate grey initially, greenish grey with later printings: perf and imperf.
The type I & III are both lacking the secret marks
The Type III had a distinct break in the upper right frame line
size 25.5 x 36.5 mm.
156 stamps per sheet.
Secret markings: a small bleed 5 mm beneath the top right comer ornament (not always clear)
The top right frame line generally does not touch the vertical one. It is however known to go past it in rare cases.
There is a background shading line inside the hilt of the bayonet which is not in the forgery.
The helmet visor is a nice crescent shape, in the forgery it has a long S shape.
Red: perf and imperf.
I am not sure of the overprint being genuine.
The stamp on the right is showing plate wear as more white spaces appear in the sky
220 stamps per sheet.
This stamp is printed in 2 lithographic forms:
size 34.5 x 23 mm
Vertical and horizontal lines are broken, producing spots.
Bottom internal line runs long on the right side by 0.1 – 0.2 mm.
In many of the stamps both internal and external lines on the bottom run long.
In the bottom writing the last letter touches the external horizontal line with a long tail not in the forgeries.
The small center letters that look like tv are followed by a dot, which is not found on the forgeries.
A key feature is the top of the side columns, in the genuine, the top is rounded but flat in the counterfeit.
Brownish yellow: perf and imperf.
Type 2. 34.5 x 23 mm
Vertical and horizontal lines are not broken.
Secret markings are the same as Type 1 except the lines which run long do so by 0.3 – 0.4 mm.
Pale orange: imperf only.
The above are probably a Type II forgery. Note in particular the white space on the edge of the horizontal background lines.
The double overprint was offered for a sizeable sum on an auction.
The one on the right is more likely a genuine overprint on a genuine stamp
Size 20.5 x 25 mm.
288 stamps per sheet.
The ornament on the right bottom extends to the vertical outer frame line.
The ornamental line above the letter shaped like an inverted U is broken and there is a white area.
Two primary colors:
Dark blue: perf and imperf.
Dark violet gray: imperf only.
However, this stamp is found with many color variations in both the original and forgeries.
Left, a proof and right, an ultramarine variation
Size 37.5 x 26 mm.
162 stamps per sheet.
The top left, white border around the 500 is closed on the right side.
There is a 1 mm mark above the top right corner.
In many cases the left top border is broken.
There is often a small spur on the bottom left near the curve.
Lilac brown: perf and imperf.
Dark violet brown imperf.
Note the break in the top left corner which is often found on originals.
Size 22 x 37 mm.
180 stamps per sheet.
Line above the price on the top right corner does not touch the frame and is 0.1 – 0.2 mm away.
– Yellowish to gray-green : perf and imperf.
The above is probably from a worn plate. Apparently this happened quite early in the printing.
NOTE also that both show an extension of the bottom left frame line. This is apparently not always visible. Both bottom corners may have an extension.
Size 27.5 x 37.5 mm.
Approx. 144 stamps per sheet.
The second line on the inside left frame runs long.
The outer right frame lines is very thick in many originals.
Brown: perf and imperf.
Size 23 x 35.5 mm.
Approx. 210 stamps per sheet.
Bottom right ornament loop is marked with a horizontal line.
On the left side the bottom horizontal shading line crosses through the inner curved line.
Reddish brown: perf and imperf.
Lines on the lake and left hand hill are broken and foreground soil has criss-cross lines.
Secret markings for both Types:
3.88 – 5 mm from the right bottom comer is a slanted thickened line measuring 1.2 mm.
Right vertical line runs long on the top right by 0.4 mm.
Sizes: 42.8 x 26.5 mm, 43 x 26.5 mm, 43.3 x 26.8 mm.
144 stamps per sheet.
The bottom horizontal line does not meet the frame on the right side and there is a space of 0.1 – 0.2 mm.
One or more corners has an extension.
On many copies there is a distinct dot of color in the last 0.
Red lilac: perf and imperf.
Brown lilac: perf and imperf.
Sizes: 45.2 mm, 45.5 mm, 45.7 mm, height 27.5 mm.
128 stamps per sheet.
From the partially shown bull on the right there is a small curved line which extends into the right frame by 0.4 – 0.5 mm.
In the top left margin a dot and dash. This may not always be clearly visible especially in worn issues.
Note the markings on the back of the bull.
Blue: perf and imperf.
Olive brown: perf and imperf. Perfed versions of this stamp are very rare
Block of genuine
This is probably a Type I forgery. Note the scroll on the left shows less curl than the genuine or Type II.
The simple rule is if it’s on a reprint then it is a fake overprint.