ASSR 1921- Yessayan Series

Forgeries of the First Yessayan series(click on images for a larger picture)

If you have comments/additions/corrections, please post them HERE
Additional Quality Images would be welcome.

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.

1 Ruble Original

Size 21×26 mm
270 stamps per sheet
Secret marking: 6 mm down from the top right comer is a fine green
line measuring 0.3 mm.
Olive green color.
Perforated and lmperforated


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.

This is probably the coarse Type III forgery


2 Ruble

size 32 x 22 mm
220 stamps per sheet
Secret markings: top and bottom outer horizontal lines run past.
The top and bottom inner horizontal lines extend to the outer lines

This is probably an earlier print.
The details and especially the background lines are more defined.

An earlier example


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

This is probably a type III forgery distinguished by the constant broken top left frame line.

3 Ruble

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’

Genuine Pair


This may be one of the 3 forgeries, a Type I.
The corner extensions are not pronounced, the protrusion in the arch is much larger and the white spaces on the rays are wider

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.

3 more Type II, one without the color dot in the arch.

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.

5 Ruble

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.


This is probably a Type II forgery.
Many of the features on the land vary from the genuine.

Two of the forgeries show a distinct upwards tilt of the bottom right frame.

25 Ruble

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 above is probably an earlier slate grey printing


Both the above are Type II “Reprints” / forgeries, distinguished by the scratch joining the top of the head and the frame line.

The type I & III  are both lacking the secret marks
The Type III had a distinct break in the upper right frame line

50 Ruble

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

Probably a worn impression pair


Note that the background lines are more pronounced in the forgeries.

The heavy background lines and poor printing of the above may indicate that this is a Type III forgery.
It is noted that one of the forgeries has no white spaces in the background

This appears to be a genuine later print with a fake overprint.

100 Ruble

The above shows plate wear

220 stamps per sheet.
This stamp is printed in 2 lithographic forms:
Type 1.
size 34.5 x 23 mm
Vertical and horizontal lines are broken, producing spots.
Secret markings
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

The above appear to be genuine overprints (with variations) on genuine stamps.
The left plate shows wear.

250 Ruble

Size 20.5 x 25 mm.
288 stamps per sheet.
Secret markings:
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

A genuine stamp with what appears to be a genuine overprint.


Note also that the right bird’s head had a noticeable gap between the top and the frame line.

An imperf forgery

500 Ruble

Size 37.5 x 26 mm.
162 stamps per sheet.
Secret markings:
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.

This is a genuine in the scarcer rose lilac color. The overprint also appears genuine.

Tete-beche block


The above are probably Type III forgeries that have a very small stop after the L.

This may be a Type II with the heavy right side border.

1000 Ruble

Size 22 x 37 mm.
180 stamps per sheet.
Secret markings:
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.


NOTE that the forgeries have distinct diagonal lines in the background shading left of the fisherman.
Also we have heavy doubling of the left frame line in the forgeries.

2000 Ruble

Size 39.5 mm x 25 mm.
162 stamps per sheet.
Secret markings:
The top right ornament extends beyond the frame.
Dark yellow: perf and imperf.


Note the diagonal shading in the houses.
Some windows of the main house are missing and they are smaller than the original.
The house on the far right is very different than the genuine

5000 Ruble

Size 27.5 x 37.5 mm.
Approx. 144 stamps per sheet.
Secret markings:
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.

A variety of paper & colour


The left one is probably a Type I, note the spot of color to the right of the window.
The right one a Type II.

10,000 Ruble

Size 23 x 35.5 mm.
Approx. 210 stamps per sheet.
Secret markings:
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.


The above is probably a poorly executed Type I forgery. The background lines are irregular and uneven.

15,000 Ruble

Type I
Lines on the lake are unbroken, horizontal lines adorn the first hill on the left side and the soil is adorned with horizontal lines.

Type II
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.


A Type II forgeries characterized by the lower frame line doubling and missing secret marks.

A much rougher forgery, possibly a Type I or III

20,000 Ruble

Sizes: 42.8 x 26.5 mm, 43 x 26.5 mm, 43.3 x 26.8 mm.
144 stamps per sheet.
Secret markings:
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.
Two colors:
Red lilac: perf and imperf.
Brown lilac: perf and imperf.

Colour variation


Probable fake overprint on genuine stamp

25,000 Ruble

Sizes: 45.2 mm, 45.5 mm, 45.7 mm, height 27.5 mm.
128 stamps per sheet.
Secret markings:
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.
Two colors:
Blue: perf and imperf.
Olive brown: perf and imperf. Perfed versions of this stamp are very rare

Block of genuine

Listed as a Plate Proof. Dot and dash clearly shown.


Note in particular the shape of the first 3 top letters which are very different. These are probably both Type II forgeries.

This is probably a Type I forgery. Note the scroll on the left shows less curl than the genuine or Type II.

This is a sample of  a Type IV forgery which has a large color spot left of the mountain

The simple rule is if it’s on a reprint then it is a fake overprint.

Fake cancels on forgeries are much easier to spot as with the right sample below.

According to experts, stamps bearing the blue control below are always genuine overprints.