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...

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

White Russia - Labels and Forgeries

1920 "Scott 8" 15k violet "Soldier and Wife"
Genuine, Lithographed, Perforated 11 1/2
Quick History
White Russia (White Rus', White Ruthenia, Weissrussland) is considered to be historically the eastern part of present day Belarus (Byelorussia).

"Ruthenie Blanche"
White Ruthenian  Democratic Republic Land Claims -1918
There was a failed attempt to create an independent Belarusian state in 1918. Neither the Germans nor the Bolsheviks recognized the government.  The  Belarusian People's Republic (White Ruthenian Democratic Republic) ceased to effectively function when Minsk was captured by the Bolshevik Russia forces, and the Byelorussian SSR (Soviet puppet government) was founded on January 5, 1919.

(The government went into exile, and, in fact, still exists! )

Charge of the Polish Uhlans on Bolshevicks near Slutsk - Winterowski 1926
There was sporadic and irregular subsequent activity by the volunteer Belarusian People's Republic army under General Bulak-Balachowicz and local peasantry, mainly an armed anti-Bolshevik uprising in Slutsk in late 1920, at the end of the Polish-Soviet War.

I allude to this, as this may have something to do with why the "White Russia" "For the Ruthenian Army Corps" stamp issue of 1920 (10 stamps) was produced. Today, they are considered labels or cinderellas, and never actually put to postal use. But they were probably designed for propaganda purposes, or to raise funds.

We will continue with the story about the 1920 stamp issue in the A closer look at the stamps and issues section.

1920 "Scott 3" 15k violet "Soldier and Wife"
"Crude" Forgery, Opaque paper, Imperforate
Into the Deep Blue
The 2014 Scott Classic Specialized 1840-1940 catalogue has, for White Russia 1920,....nothing. ;-) Any stamp issue has been de-listed, and the "country" has disappeared. My 1947 Scott catalogue states: "Nos 1 to 10 were never put to use. It is probable they were merely labels for propaganda or to raise funds. In 1920 there was no established government in White Russia, other then that of Soviet Russia." So these stamps are essentially a private fantasy issue or cinderellas.

Nevertheless, the lithographic stamps are ubiquitous in WW collections and feeder albums, and the 1940s BB editions had a space for the 10 stamp issue (5k green, 10k scarlet, 15k violet, 50k dark blue, 1r brown - both imperforate and perforate 11 1/2).

Russia Packet with a White Russia stamp featured- a forgery!
And to add intrigue, and perhaps some interest, Varro Tyler (Focus on Forgeries c2000) states there are four forgeries known for this issue, greatly outnumbering the genuines!

No doubt these forgeries were mostly intended for the packet trade (see example above).

I have two of the forgeries: a "crude" forgery that would fool no one, and a forgery that is somewhat tricky to differentiate, which matches Tyler's Forgery Type I.

A closer look at the stamps and issues
100 Kopecks = 1 Ruble
1920 "Scott 3" 15k violet "Soldier and Wife"
Genuine, Lithographed, Imperforate
Buried in Scott's Monthly Journal, September 1920 (now on line: google "Ruthenian Army Corps") is an article by John Luff who discusses this issue. They were apparently sent to Scott's as a Lithuanian issue, but other suggestions included South Lithuania, Ruthenia, and White Russia ("Ruthenie blanche").

And in Stamp Collecting magazine, there was a letter that states: "The stamps of the ASOBNY ATRAB B.N.R. were issued by one particular Army Corps of the White Russian Republic, which is under the command of General Bulak-Balachowicz. They were printed by special instructions at the State Printing Office of Latvia."

(My comment: This letter may explain the origin ( and propaganda purposes) of the issue.)

John Luff then believes the issue is from "White Russia" ("Ruthenie Blanche").


"It is stated that the young couple are wearing White Russian national costumes and that the picture is taken from a well known painting by a White Russian artist. The border of the stamps was designed by Richard Sarinsch, formerly of the Imperial Russian Printing Bureau, and now head of the Latvia State printing Office at Riga."

O.K., Let's take a look at the lithographic issue itself, which, in my view, is rather finely done.

The issue was released in 1920 with five imperforated values ("Scott 1-5") and five perforated 11 1/2 values ("Scott 6-10").

The first thing the WW collector needs to be cognizant of is there are actually two designs, albeit similar: the 15k design, and the design for the rest of the denominations (5k,10k,50k,1r).

(Varro Tyler suggests that the 15k must have been developed by a different artist than the other values.)

Why is this important?

The common forgeries "copy" the 5k,10k,50k,1r design, and ignored the 15k design. It is quite easy to spot a 15k genuine, and also to then be able to identify the forgeries. Once one knows a stamp is a forgery, one can look for identical "forgery" markings for the 5k,10k,50k,1r examples also.

Genuine 15k - Thin "T";
& Serif at top of the Cyrillic "D" of "ATRAD" 
does not touch the pointed tip of that letter
The 15k genuine has, for the Cyrillic "ATRAD" script on the upper right horizontal tablet, a characteristic thin "T", and a serif that does not touch the letter "D".


Unfortunately, the "ATRAD" sign is only good for the 15k value, and is not present for the 5k,10k,50k,1r values.

1920 "Scott 3" 15k violet
Forgery Type I, Imperforate
Here is a forgery that is identical to Varro Tyler's "Type I Forgery" that Tyler illustrates ("Focus on Forgeries c2000). Notice anything? Look at the "ATRAD" script.

Forgery Type I 15k - Fat "T";
Serif at top of the Cyrillic "D" of "ATRAD" 
does touch the pointed tip of that letter
The forgery has a fat "T" and a serif that touches the Cyrillic "D".

So the "ATRAD" sign should quickly identify the genuine 15k stamps from the impostors.

As I mentioned, though, this "ATRAD" sign is only good for the 15k value.

Genuine 5k,10k,50k,1r
Here is what the genuine "ATRAD" looks like for the 5k,10k,50k,1r values.  Unfortunately, there is not enough of a difference with the forgeries to use it as a sign for these values.

15k violet  "Faces" close-up
Forgery Type I
Spot of color touches curved line forming woman's chin
As it turns out, the differences for the forgeries is most clearly seen with the faces of the couple- especially the woman.

Looking at the 15k (where it is easy to spot, and be assured of a forgery), one should concentrate on the woman's chin and a chin marking (dimple).

One will note a small spot of color ("dimple") that is not removed from the lines forming the chin.

Since the "dimple" sign is rather subtle, we will look at a number of examples for both genuines and forgeries.

1920 "Scott 6"  5k green
Genuine, Perforated 11 11/2
Here is a genuine 5k green. A characteristic of the paper is that it is transparent- one can easily see the design from the back of the stamp. In fact, just examining the transparency, I can almost always differentiate the genuines from the two forgeries I have. (A knowledgeable source, though, has told me that the forgeries have been found on different papers, so the differences in paper that I am finding may not always hold true.)

Genuine 5k "Faces" close-up
Note short dash on Woman's chin - not touching chin outline
Look at the "dimple" for the genuine. It is a short dashed slightly curved horizontal line that does not touch the chin outline below.

Admittedly, the sign is a bit subtle, and here the "dimple" is not well marked.

1920 "Scott 1" 5k green
Forgery Type I, Perf 11 1/2
O.K. let's compare with Forgery Type I. The paper of the Forgery Type I  is not as transparent as the genuine.  Although one can see the design from the back of the stamp, it is not as apparent as the genuines.

5k green  "Faces" close-up
Forgery Type I
Ha-ha! Note the "dimple" is merely a spot of color that joins with the chin outline below!

And, although not as reliable, the eye outlines for the Type I forgery on the man tend to be not as thickly inked as the genuines.

One reason the genuine stamp and the Type I forgery differences may be subtle is that some believe the Type I forgery is actually a reprint!

1920 "Scott 6" 5k green
"Crude" Forgery, Opaque paper
There is another forgery I have for all values (mine are all imperforate) that I call the "crude" forgery.

The paper is quite opaque, and definitely not in the least degree transparent. I can spot these forgeries easily just with the opaque paper.

5k green "Crude" Forgery
"Faces" close-up
The "dimple" is again a small mark that is attached to the chin outline. The left eyebrow and left eye of the woman are just one swath of color. Everything is cruder.

I alluded earlier to the fact that Varro Tyler states there are four forgeries.

Two of them show a spot of color touching the outline of the chin. (The Type I Forgery is definitely one of them, and the "crude" forgery is probably the other (Type II?).)

The third forgery (which I don't have) has the dot or dash for the "dimple" not touch the chin line (similar to the genuine), but also there are faint guidelines visible between the stamps. (If you have an example of this forgery, I would like to see it.)

Addendum: Yes, I did receive some examples of Type III, thanks to a source that wishes to remain unnamed! I have an example on the 15k (recall that the 15k has a different design than the other denominations). And I have an example on a 50k. Both examples are characterized by faint guidelines surrounding the stamp.

Example 15k Type III...with frameline..

Forgery III - 15k -Note Frameline
The forgery has a frameline around it, which would correspond to Tyler's Forgery III. The genuine 15k does not have a frameline around it.

Also recall that the 15k is unique in design, compared to the other denominations, so any comparison of this forgery should be done by comparing it to the 15k genuine, and not with other genuine or forgery denominations. 

(Remember I said you didn't have to worry about forgeries with the 15k, as it has a different design that the forgeries didn't cover? Well, I lied. ;-) 

Example 50k type III with frameline..

Forgery III - 50k - Note Frameline
This forgery has a frameline around it, which corresponds to Type III of Tyler. As you know, the genuines do not have framelines around them.

Now is it possible that there are actually two kinds of Type III forgeries as shown by these two (different) examples? Yes, it is possible. For instance, if the example above also exists as a 15k with a frameline, that is different from the 15k I just presented, then there could be five forgeries. But, regardless if there are one or two forgery sub-types for Type III, they all show the frameline.

End of Type III addendum.

The fourth forgery has no dash or dot ("dimple") on the chin. (I would like to see this forgery if a reader has an example.)

Addendum: And indeed I was also given an example of Type IV!

Forgery IV- 50k - No dimple on the chin
Forgery IV is characterized primarily by no dimple on the chin.

Type IV Forgery close-up
Note no dimple on the woman's chin! All of the 5k green,10k scarlet, 50k dark blue, & 1r brown genuines and the other forgeries of those denominations have a dimple there.

(The 15k violet is a differently designed stamp. The genuine does not have a dimple.)

And also note the widely spaced eyebrows on the man's face.

End Type IV addendum...

Now back to comparing genuines, Type I, and Type II (crude) forgeries..

1920 "Scott 7"  10k scarlet
Genuine, Perforated 11 11/2
The scarlet 10k on transparent paper - genuine.

Genuine 10k red
"Faces" close-up
Note the chin "dimple" is a short dash, and appears clear of the chin outline. Note the heavy inking of the man's eyes.

"Crude" Forgery- 10k red
The 10k - which appears orange-red here- "crude" forgery on quite opaque paper.

1920 "Scott 9" 50k dark blue
The genuine 50k dark blue on transparent paper.

50k dark blue
Genuine - "Faces" close-up
Note the "dimple" is clear of the chin outline. Note the hair coming out of the man's cap on the left side shows definition.

1920 "Scott 4" 50k dark blue
Forgery Type I, Imperforate
The Forgery Type I looks good enough that one has to study the subtle clues to determine if it is a forgery.

50k dark blue
Forgery Type I
Close examination of the faces show a short dash-dot linked with the woman's chin outline below. The man's eye lines are not as heavily inked (this sign is subtle) and the hair coming out of the cap on the left has less definition.

1920 "Scott 10" 1r brown
A genuine 1r brown.

1r brown
Genuine "Faces" close-up
Chin "dimple" clear of chin out line: Check

Heavy eye inking and more definition of man's hair: Check

1r brown'
Forgery Type I
Chin dot "dimple"attached to chin outline: Check

Man's eye not as heavily inked, and hair definition is lacking: Check

I hope I've given enough example of the genuines and forgeries that the reader is now comfortable determining forgeries from the genuines- especially Forgery Type I. !!!

1r brown, Imperforate
"Crude' Forgery
Another "crude" forgery (note the woman's left eye and eyebrow are one color swath) on quite opaque paper.

Deep Blue
1920 White Russia on Supplementary page in Deep Blue
Labels and Forgeries
As Deep Blue (Steiner) follows the modern day Scott catalogue, there are no formal spaces for the 1920 cinderella issue or "White Russia". I added a supplementary page with my various examples put there.

1920 "Scott 4" 50k dark blue
"Crude" Forgery, Opaque paper, Imperforate
Big Blue
Big Blue '47, on one-third page (shared with Western Ukrainia) has ten spaces for the imperforate and perforate 1920 "Soldier and Wife" issue. 

"White Russia" in 1940s Editions of Big Blue
My '69 BB has eliminated the coverage for "White Russia", and substituted that of "South Russia".

The '47 BB states "White Russia" is part of Soviet Russia (Belarus) on the boundary with Poland.

Checklist (1940s BB)

A) Expensive stamps (Threshold $10): none
B) Note there are forgeries of this issue.
C) Note the Scott numbers listed here are no longer active, and the "country" is gone.

1920 "Scott 5" 1r brown
Forgery Type I, Imperforate
Out of the Blue
To be honest, one has to carefully examine these stamps to differentiate genuines from Type I forgeries. I had question marks (Genuine?, Forgery?) attached to many of these stamps in my album, even with the use of a magnifying glass, until I scanned them, and could really evaluate the subtle differences.

Addendum: And thanks to the source who gave me scan examples of Type III and Type IV forgeries.

And I am glad I could flesh out the history of these stamps, which is fascinating.

Who said "labels" are not interesting? ;-)

Note: Map and Slutsk painting scan appear to be in the public domain.
The stamp scans for Type III and Type IV forgeries are used, by permission, from a source.

Comments appreciated!


  1. Thanks so much for the information. I have these stamps & they appear to be genuine.All 5 are perforated. How do I find out the value of these stamps? They are being sold in an estate sale & I have no idea what their value is. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks, Brenda

    1. Hello Brenda

      I'm afraid these "White Russia" stamps - even the genuine ones - are worth much more as little works of art and the history they represent than true monetary value. If you can get $1 for the set, you would be doing well. ;-)

  2. Hello Jim,

    I am working on "Crude" forgeries now. I need duplicates to find the repeated defects of cliches so your 5 stamps were very useful for me. I will put reference to your article in my one. Do you have more stamps?

    Best regards,
    Igor Myaskovsky

    1. Hello Igor

      Let me check and I will get back to you. It may not be for several days.

    2. Igor

      Alas, I don't have more "crude" forgeries other than the five I show here. Good luck with your search.

    3. Thank you Jim. Currently I have 87 images and found 17 different but repeated cliche.

    4. I have all 5 of the crude forgeries... I have the junior almanac and it is 75% complete

  3. Thank you Jim for your excellent treatment for the stamps of White Russia. After reading your article, I discovered that I owned three different Type 1 Forgeries. Desiring to acquire genuine stamps, I noted that virtually all eBay sellers were offering only fakes. However, there was a Bulgarian seller that appeared to be offering genuine stamps. Naturally, I took a chance and purchased them. Today I received the stamps and ran them through your criteria. Thanks to your guidance, I now own seven different White Russian stamps!

    1. Wow, thanks Gina for the story - and glad it ended well and am glad you now have genuines.

    2. Hi
      I have both full sets genuine and forgeries, perforated and straight edges, are there worth much ,many thanks laurence

    3. No, they are not really worth much as they are "labels", and currently not in the Scott catalogue. But they are fun anyway!

  4. Great writeup! I have 3 sets of those - one genuine perf, one forgery imperf, and another genuine "used" - actually CTO at some later point I would think.

  5. A depressing revelation!

    I spent the morning working through my White Russia “Cinderellas” trying to separate genuine from forgery. Thank you Jim for the useful guide.

    I have in total 39 stamps, of which only 6 were revealed to be genuine.

    Broken down as follows – genuine/forgery
    Perf: 5k 2 of 5; 10k 1 of 5; 15k 1 of 4; 50k 1 of 3; 1r 1 of 5
    Imperf: 5k 0 of 3; 10k 0 of 3; 15k 0 of 4; 50k 0 of 4; 1r 0 of 3.

    So I have no genuine imperf stamps, and have some truly crude imperfs.

    I also note that the genuine stamps tend to be a more vivid color than the type1 forgeries that dominate the rest of what I have. As Jim mentions the design is easily seen through the back of the stamp, and often the perforations are not as neatly cut in the genuine examples I have.

    1. Tyrannus - thanks for the report. Hope you can find some genuines. :-)