Chassepot Issue 1920

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Chassepot Issue (also Paris Issue) DECEMBER 2, 1920 –
(Click on the images for a larger picture)

There are as many as 3 sets of reprint/forgeries of these stamps.
Some consider them reprints but since printing the first issue was stopped due to the Red Army entering Armenia it is very unlikely that there were any further printings. The Russians declined to validate the stamps. It was even a crime for anybody to use the stamps so many catalogs consider them as unissued.
There is thought that there were shipments of stamps in the amount of  1,200,000 or 1,300,000 prior to the Soviet takeover.
One of the “trusted” carriers apparently sold a shipment to European dealers.
The stamps were designed by Arshag Fetvadjian and printed by the Chasepot Printing Works in Paris. The printing company destroyed the remainders because Fetvadjian was unable to pay.  Fetvadjian probably kept a large stock of stamps, proofs and specimens which he may have sold to Paris dealers in 1924.
The forgers are apparently unknown but they were probably responding to the collector demand between 1924 and 1930.

The Original Set

A “Reprint” Set

Reprints which may have occurred in more than one printing are the real problem as vast quantities were produced for the stamp trade.
Since it is believed new plates were made and they were not officially authorized, they in my opinion fall more into the category of forgeries.
The spacing between the impressions from the second plates are greater both horizontally and vertically by about a full 1.0 mm so any blocks or larger are easily spotted.

The inks used for the reprints are denser in consistency and the centers in particular are blurred where the ink has penetrated the surface of the paper of the high values

The clear gum on the reprints tends to darken but in general it is not thick enough to crackle as with the originals.

The genuine Coat of Arms


The original (left), reprint (right)
In the reprint;
The frame is generally thinner (There are some with thicker frame)
The colors tend to be denser
Overall the printing is not as clear with more broken or white areas.
Note that with the lower values the numerals tend to be outlines without filling but lightly inked originals might also show this feature.






A rare proof

A rare original Imperforate

Imperforate reprints in multiples are very numerous- note the wide spacing

Specimen Stamps
The story with these is that the first five stamps were overprinted in pairs and send to the UPU for recognition. The UPU never officially gave an opinion and later those stamps found there way to collectors. Specimen overprints on higher values than 15r are not described in the literature on proof and specimens and they may well be forgeries.
Auctions regularly provide large blocks (check the spacing for reprints), perfed and imperforate specimens (originals are rare) of all the issues.


Comparison of higher values

Genuine left, reprint right
The reprints have a denser color
The central image is coarser and lacking details
Lots of breaks and white spots
The frame of the designs from 25 rubles onward are bigger (1 mm higher)






An original block with narrower separations.

A very rare inverted block

A fairly common inverted reprint

Fiscals or Forgeries?

There are conflicting stories on these overprints
The stamps from 1 to 15 rubles were overprinted and used for fiscal purposes. Many documents with used examples.
The overprints were later forged. All known sources only describe the usage of these overprints on the lower values. Overprints on higher values are forgeries. No used piece on a genuine document is known!

Also there is another thought that the originals never reached Armenia because inflation requirements precluded their use.
This theory suggests that all of the stamps are forgeries produced by someone who had access to the overprint stamp.

Picture from a catalog

Colour Trials.
Printed on very thick paper, imperf and ungummed.
1 R. Shades of brown (5)
3 R. Shades of green (6) and shades of red (3)
5 R. Shades of red (6) and shades of brown (3)
10 R. Shades of blue (7)
15 R. Shades of violet (3)

40r Color Trial

Color trials also exist on very thick paper, they can be perfed or imperf with frames or centers only