A is for Aden and Z is for Zanzabar

A is for Aden and Z is for Zanzibar... Now what is between? For the world wide classical era philatelist and stamp collector, a country specific philatelic survey is offered by the blog author, Jim Jackson, with two albums: Big Blue, aka Scott International Part 1 (checklists available), and Deep Blue, aka William Steiner's Stamp Album Web PDF pages. In addition, "Bud" offers commentary and a look at his completely filled Big Blue. Interested? So into the Blues...

Saturday, August 9, 2014

North Ingermanland & Forgeries

1920 Scott 9 30p buff & gray green "Peasant"
Quick History
Between the River Neva-which flows through St. Petersburg (Petrograd)- and north to Finland, there was a short lived revolt against Bolshevist Russia between July 9, 1919 and December 5, 1920. This "Republic of North Ingria" (or North Ingermanland- (Swedish Name)) was declared January 23, 1920, and was supported by Ingrian Finns who wished the lands to be incorporated into Finland.

The am using "North Ingermanland" as the post topic, as that is the name used in the Scott catalogue.

Karelian Isthmus
The Russian-Finnish border (lower red line on map) was eventually resolved by the Treaty of Tartu on October 14, 1920 to be the same as the old border between the Grand Duchy of Finland and Imperial Russia. BTW, the upper red line on the map became the new border between Finland and Soviet Russia after the "Winter War" of 1939.

Map of North Ingermanland (North Ingria)
Note "Kirjasalo", the "Capital", close to the border
The North Ingrian Regiment soon was forced to retreat into Finland, and the southern Karelian isthmus lands became part of Soviet Russia.

If you wish to know more about this (mostly) forgotten historical episode, I recommend reading Michael Adkins excellent Dead Countries Stamps North Ingria post.

Well, as one would expect of any "country" that exists in a tenuous way,- they issue stamps!

( And the reality was the only area the Regiment controlled in Russia was Kirjasalo, and the "Kirjasalo Post Office" was actually located in an office room of the railroad station at Rautu, just across the Finnish border! ;-)  (Update note: I had it as "Tautu", but the correct spelling is "Rautu". See Gerben's comments.)

1920 Scott 8 10p gray green & ultramarine "Arms"
Into the Deep Blue
The 2011 Scott Classic Specialized catalogue has, for North Ingermanland 1920, 14 descriptive numbers. Of those, nine stamps ( 64%) have a CV between $2-$3. The other five stamps range in CV from $9-$220+.

There are two issues: the March 21,1920 seven stamp "Arms" issue, and the August 2, 1920 seven stamp pictorial issue.

About the lithographed bi-color pictorial issue, -there is bad news and good news.

Forgeries abound.

But Varro Tytler's "Focus on Forgeries " (Copyright 2000 by Linn's Stamp News) discusses  the most common forgery (there are two others) of the pictorial issue on seven full pages! I will try, then, to alert the collector to the genuine/forgery differences.

( I will not necessarily point out what Varro Tyler used for his genuine/forgery differences- but pick my own if I believe it is better for my particular stamps. ;-)

Of interest, these lithographed common forgeries appeared in the late 1950s, and were first offered to Finnish collectors by a dealer in Great Britain.

A closer look at the stamps and issues
100 Pennia = 1 Markka
1920 Scott 2 10p rose red "Arms"
The seven stamp "Arms" issue set was released March 21, 1920, and is illustrated here. Often, examples are not well centered. Unused are less expensive CV wise than used. Four lower denomination stamps are CV $2, while the remaining higher denominations are $20+-$200+.

1920 Scott 8 10p gray green & ultramarine "Arms"
Genuine & Forgery
The 10p gray green & ultramarine stamp of the pictorial issue has Finnish script for North Ingria. Pictured above is a genuine and the most common forgery. Note the greener color of the forgery, as well as the very white paper.
1920 Scott 8 10p gray green & ultramarine Forgery
Note the double lines
The easiest marker for the forgery stamp is a double line along the top of the top of the shield. This does not exist on the genuine stamp.

1920 Scott 9 30p buff & gray green "Peasant"
Genuine & Forgery
Shown above is the "Peasant" pictorial for the 30p denomination. The vignette in the forgery appears cruder, and the stamp is on white paper.

1920 Scott 9 30p buff & gray green Forgery
The red arrow shows the fourth and fifth horizontal lines from the top close together and prominent. Generally, the lines around the head are unevenly spaced. The shading lines around the head are evenly spaced in the genuine.

The marker for the frame on the forgery I found most easy to spot is the thin "K" line (black arrow). Compare to the genuine.

1920 Scott 10 50p ultramarine & red brown "Plowing"
Genuine & Forgery
Although both the genuine and forgery stamps are perf 11 1/2, the forgery's perfs are often rougher, as shown here. The paper is quite white on the forgery, more cream on the genuine.

Genuine (red arrow); Forgery (green arrow)
On the 50p ultramarine & gray, there is, on the upper right frame, two curly branches with two sharp projections pointing up between the branches. On the left projection, there are some dots and dashes on the genuine (red arrow), while none (green arrow) on the forgery. The left projection is rounder in the genuine, much more pointed on the forgery.

1920 Scott 11 80p claret & slate "Milking"
Genuine & Forgery
For the 80p claret & slate, the vignette in the forgery appears cruder, and the stamp is on very white paper.

Milk can (black arrow) visible on genuine
Beads, and "0" in "80", on forgery (green arrows)
The differences I found include: a visible "milk can" in the genuine, and thinner bead shapes and a thicker center of the "0" in "80" in the forgery (green arrows).

80p Forgery: Examine the Slate colored thin horizontal lines
Uppermost line extends farther to the right than the second line
One other clue is visible on my second 80p forgery copy in my collection: The top horizontal line extends to the right. This does not occur with the genuine specimens.

1920 Scott 12 1m red & slate "Planting"
I only have forgeries for the 1m and 5m stamps.. But, I plan to point out a "marker" on the forgery, so you will know if that is what you have (likely in general collections).

Remember, the forgeries are on very white paper.

Scott 12 1m red & slate Forgery
White space between the sixth and seventh line (black arrow)
Smudge of color in ball (red arrow)
The genuine, in contrast, has somewhat indistinct horizontal lines that are all uniformly spaced. The genuine has a colored line in the ball that is attached to the ribbon above.

1920 Scott 13 5m dark violet & dull rose 
"Ruins of Church"
Note the very white paper and the crude perforations here on this 5m dark violet & dull rose.

The third full bead from the top  is flattened on the left side in the forgery
Subtle differences are all we sometimes are left with. ;-) The third full bead is not flat on the left in the genuine (red arrow).

1920 Scott 14 10m brown & violet
"Peasants playing Zithers"
Genuine & Forgery
Note the CV for the pictorial set ranges from  $3-$9. The 10m brown & violet forgery (right) again shows the white paper, and the rough perforations.

1920 Scott 14 10m brown & violet
"Peasants playing Zithers"
A dot in the oval gives this away as a forgery- usually (See note)
The genuine has two separate curved lines in the oval, but no dot above the curved lines.

Note: There is a possibility that some genuines have the dot-(see comment note by rw)

A zither? This string instrument has taken a back seat to the guitar in modern times. It had a resurgence after a zither was used on the musical score of the 1949 film noir , The Third Man.

But back to Genuine vs Forgery...a closer look....

1920 Scott 14 10m brown & violet
Genuine Close-up 
* The white oval under the left side of the "O" has two separate curved lines.
* The white bar to the left of the  lower right corner "M" has a notch in the upper end.

Now compare to the Forgery...

1920 Scott 14 10m brown & violet
Forgery Close-up 
* The white oval under the left side of the "O" has a dot above two touching curved lines.
Note: There is a possibility that some genuines have the dot-(see comment note by rw)
* The white bar to the left of the  lower right corner "M" has no notch in the upper end.

Deep Blue
North Ingermanland 1920 issue in Deep Blue
Deep Blue (Steiner) has one page for the stamps of North Ingermanland. One will need to print out a second copy for the forgeries that will inevitably accumulate, or use a quadrilled page.

1920 Scott 10 50p ultramarine & red brown "Plowing"
Big Blue
Big Blue '69, on two lines of one page- sharing the page with Northern Nigeria- has 9 spaces for North Ingermanland. The page is located between North Borneo and Northern Rhodesia.

Coverage is 64%. The CV of the stamps not in BB vary from $9-$220+.

North Ingermanland in Big Blue
Included in BB is one "expensive stamp", the 1m red & slate @ CV $20+.

Of course, many collections have counterfeits- mine certainly does. ;-) One will need to actively seek out genuine copies.




A) Expensive stamps ($10 threshold):
1920 Scott 12 1m red & slate ($20+)

1920 Scott 11 80p claret & slate "Milking"
Out of the Blue
I suspect only stamp collectors- and perhaps some readers of Finnish history- are aware of North Ingria or North Ingermanland.

The forgeries- as long as one is aware they are forgeries- adds some spice to the collection.

Note: Maps appear to  be in the public domain.

Have a comment?


  1. Nice entry... Can't really add much else than:

    * Genuine stamps are always perf. 11½ or imperf
    Forgeries are usually something else. In addition of UK forgeries, I recall reading about a 'Danish release' in the 1960/70s.

    * Genuine postal use is rare as hens teeth
    Most used items are simply CTOs or from philatelic mail.

    * The specialized resources list 1-3 shades for each stamp

    * The first series can be found with overprint "Malli". These are simply specimen overprints.

    * The second series is somewhat common with overprint "Inkerin hyväksi" meaning "Pro Ingermanland". Again - plenty of forgeries here.

    Funny how much one can know about a certain country/set without having a single specimen in one's collection. LOL.


  2. Thanks Keijo for the additional comments- as usual, very helpful. :-)

  3. Nice web site. Here is information that is pertinent to a stamp shown on this page.

    I have a 10 M stamps from this set that appears genuine in all respects (perfs, paper color, etc), except it has a dot in the oval under the second O of POHJOIS. In early 2000 I wrote Varro E. Tyler about this, and he wanted to see the stamp. So I sent it to him. His response of Jan. 24, 2000 is below:

    “Your 10-M Ingermanland stamp, returned herewith, is perfectly genuine. The two lines are basically separate, although they come close at the left end. In the forgeries, these are blended together almost all the way.

    “The problem is that dot. It was not present on the genuine copies I had previously seen, but it certainly is on yours. We need to see more copies to know if this occurs with any frequency. The other characteristics are OK.

    “I’ll keep my eyes open and see what turns up. I would appreciate it if you would do the same and let me know of any additional genuines with dot.

    “Many Thanks. (signed) Varro”

    As far as I know, Mr. Tyler never published a correction to his original column in Linns that dealt with this stamp.

    So, it appears the presence of a dot in this place is not infallible proof that the stamp is a forgery.

    My guess is that this dot started out as a lithographic flaw on at least one position of the genuine stamps. The stamp from that position was used to make the forgeries, thereby transferring this flaw to all of them.


    1. Thanks for sharing this. I actually landed with a stamp similar to yours (mine is with beautiful Kirjasalo SOTN cancellation), and it got me stumped for a while. This comment cleared up a lot....

  4. Thank you rw for the very interesting note from Varro Tyler. As you probably know, he passed away in 2001.

    Re-reading his "Focus on Forgeries- c 2000" he states for the genuine:
    "There is usually no dot present above the lines." !! (Note "usually" !)

    So perhaps he indeed incorporated your apparently genuine stamp with the dot present?

    The forgery should still have the white bar to the left of the lower right corner "M" with no notch in the upper end, so there is still a good sign for the forgery stamp.

    Thanks you rw!

    I'll change the post to reflect these findings.

  5. The caption says: "1920 Scott 2 20p rose red "Arms" but it's an illustration of the 10p.

  6. old album circa 1926 had 9 stamps of North Ingermanland. All appear to be genuine as illustrated in this article Thanks (not the expensive ones of course)

    1. Robert- glad you found the genuine/forgery comparisons useful.

  7. Jim

    You mention that the only post office of North Ingermandland was actually located in Tautu (maybe this should be Rautu) across the border in Finland. Is there a specific resource that you can refer to for this piece of information?

    1. Yes, could be Rautu. Unfortunately, I cannot site my source, as the sands of time has faded the memory, and I did not keep notes. If I find the source again, I will update here.

    2. I found this resource, that may refresh your memory... It, in any case, confirms the reading that the post office was at Rautu. I explicitly asked for a reference, because Michel states there was one post office in Kirjasalo sic. Conflicting resources, always a pleasure....

    3. Sorry, here is the link: http://www.scc-online.org/old/ph06feb.pdf

    4. "Ironically, the Kirjasalo post office was not in North Ingermanland itself but at the Rautu railroad station on the Finnish side of the border (see map)."

      Gerben- thanks for the source link you found. I think my source was different than this, but fortunately they agree about the mail being handled on the Finnish side of the border.

  8. I have yet another source in the "Facit Special Classic 2016" catalogue:

    "Only one post office existed in Kirjasalo. /../ and was nearly all the time located in Rautu on the finnish side of the border."

    1. I sometimes forget that the most accessible/ obvious place to look are catelogues. ;-) Thanks Steamboat.

  9. Hi,

    I wrote an article in FAKES, FORGERIES AND EXPERTS journal about North-Ingria II series counterfeits. I studied the difference in paper quality and fiber orientation and thickness in genuine and counterfeit stamps.

    1. Wow - great!

      Thanks for furthering the cause for those of us that would like to tell the difference between genuines/forgeries.

  10. Utilizing your excellent Forgery Detection criteria, I was pleased to discover that I do have a genuine North Ingermanland Scott #10. Unfortunately, my Karelia Bear stamp is a forgery, and there aren't any single Bears currently listed on eBay.

  11. My experience is that the forgeries are almost always off center with cruder background shading. Using this criteria, one can always spot the forgeries on ebay without looking at the minutiae of the design. Try it sometime. Find the offcenter listing & then Check it out for signs of forgery.

    1. Good observation Bill. I notice most of my forgeries are off center.

    2. Jim, Another observation that on the 10p (Scott#8), in addition to the double line, there is often a blue "blob" on the upper right hand corner of the escutcheon. This printing flaw seems to always coincide with the double line forgery & therefore maybe another indicator of a forgery. What do you think?