The Samovar

Forged Poti-Odessa ship mail

IvoSteijn - 3/29/2003 at 18:08

This purports to be a Civil War-period cover posted on the Poti-Odessa line, to Odessa. Just about everything about it is wrong: franking, paper, and the postmark is a silly forgery.

forged Poti Odessa 2a.jpg - 15kB

The back of the cover

IvoSteijn - 3/29/2003 at 18:09

Another strike of the silly ship mail forgery, and a forged Odessa "b" backstamp which appears to be a crude copy of the Odessa "b" MACHINE postmark! Note that both the Poti-Odessa and the Odessa marks have dates in large, silly figures.

forged Poti Odessa 2b.jpg - 12kB

Here's a genuine Poti-Odessa mark

IvoSteijn - 3/29/2003 at 18:11

(which, by the way, is pretty hard to find)

genuine Poti Odessa.jpg - 112kB

Jeff - 5/3/2006 at 09:33

Ivo, what is the pupose of forging a postmark like this? Is there profit to be made here?

IvoSteijn - 5/3/2006 at 10:12

Good question. Over the last 15 years a whole host of forged postmarks has been spotted on the market. Some are forgeries of very rare (and expensive) postmarks like used abroad marks. Some are forgeries of more ordinary postmarks used to create extraordinary covers, perhaps as a forged arrival marking, etc.

To give you some idea of the scale of the problem, a friend of mine was approached at the Helsinki 1995 exhibition by a dealer with, literally, two plastic bags full of forged zemstvo covers!

I regularly see forged Siberia/FER covers in European auctions. You're less likely to see them in US auctions because people like Paul Buchsbayew and Nikolai Kondrikov (of Cherrystone and Raritan, respectively) know what they're doing.

My best guess is that such covers are not made to fool the experts. No advanced collector of South Russia or of ship mail will have been fooled by the Poti-Odessa cover, for instance. So they're aimed at collectors who might know that a Poti-Odessa ship mail postmark on cover is unusual, and VERY unusual on South Russia, but who don't know what they look like.
eBay is an ideal place for shopping such forgeries: lots of collectors from total novice to advanced specialist. The chances of getting rid of your forged cover on eBay are excellent.

As for the basic motive, if this Poti-Odessa-ship-mail-on-South-Russia cover was genuine it would be unique and a howling rarity. I don't know how many fanatical collectors of either field there are but I'd bet a realistic market value would no longer be in 3 figures. Given that it took all of 2 dollars in stamps and some ink to produce, the motivation is simple.

Alep - 5/3/2006 at 13:36

One can still see one more forgery in ebay under No. 9512769210. Fortunately, nobody was bitten on it. Beware this seller who offers fakes from time to time!

IvoSteijn - 5/3/2006 at 13:40

I particularly like the registration marking, which is from about 50 years later...

Jeff - 5/3/2006 at 15:54

You make a good point that these types of forgeries are not intended to fool the experts, but the unwitting collector (like me, for example) who may want a piece of that pie, has enough knowledge to figure out it is fairly unusual or even rare, but could not identify a fake from anything else.



IvoSteijn - 5/3/2006 at 16:20

You're welcome.

The problem is, normally I use the rule "If you've never seen it before, buy it!" and that rule has served me well in the past. So that seems to contradict the warning I just gave...

It helps if you've seen a few of these forgeries, since they kind of look alike in many ways. That's why a bulletin board like this one can play such a vital role in warning people.

another twist

verny - 8/10/2006 at 18:41

I know of at least one case of relatively common cancellations being used to produce rarities in quite some quantities in Moscow in the mid 1990's. Luckily the guy was caught and put out of business.
However there is another danger, it is possible in russia to occasionally find old original post office cancellers and seals for sale. i have seen several in Moscow dating from both the Imperial and early soviet period. I also possess a number of such items myself as my collection goes beyond pure philately and into the realms of post office paraphenalia.
Obviously in the wrong hands.....

amtc911 - 3/29/2010 at 12:03

Only if ebay ever listens to "us" telling them about the fakes. :hair