Ошибки, Надпечатки, Фальшивки, Переизданки и Редкие Марки – Errors, Overprints, Forgeries, Reprints and Rare Stamps
Russian definitive stamps of the 1908 type diagonally overprinted “Occupation Azirbayedjan” continue to cause confusion. It must first be pointed out that the whole stamp issue is, without any doubt, a bogus one. Still even bogus issues usually claim to have been used in some existing country. Many collectors seem to believe that the stamps in question were intended for the Russian occupation during WW1 of Azerbaijan, a Caucasian province of the Empire.
These stamps were supposed to have been issued in 1918 by Russian troops in Tabriz, the Persian part of Azerbaijan, possibly at the time of the British expedition by General Dunsterville. In the 1920s these stamps achieved catalogue status in Gibbons and Yvert, but were then dropped when it became apparent that most were mint stamps offered by one French dealer, and that used stamps were virtually unobtainable. It is still uncertain whether these stamps were originally prepared in the Transcaucasus or in Paris.
However, until the March 1917 Revolution in Russia the Transcaucasian provinces were a normally governed region of the Empire. It was not under occupation. But later in the same spring Turkey occupied the whole of Transcaucasia for a year. After that all the three countries were independent until the Bolsheviks took them over in 1920–21. The stamps first appeared on the philatelic market in May 1917.
Nobody has claimed that the Turks produced such an overprint – it just would not have made sense. So where were these stamps “used”? The answer is: in the, lesser known, Persian province of Azerbaijan. There were some Russian-English troops there until the autumn of 1917, but it was not really an occupation. Their task was to assist the Persian government by combating Turkish forces that had penetrated into Persia also.
Catalogues of the early 1920s and the Kohl handbook “correctly” attributed the stamps to this Russian-British expedition force and some of its officers, but already at that time the issue was suspected to be bogus. Still today some catalogues at least mention the Occupation Azirbayedjan issue, and Yvert listed the stamps in full without a caution at least in 1982. Sometimes the “correct” country is mentioned, sometimes not.
The capital of this Persian province was Tabriz. In order to represent “proof of use” some stamps and covers were cancelled (by favour) with the postmark of the Russian consular post office at Tabriz. However, confusion is caused by stamps and covers postmarked with an entirely forged datestamp of Baku of October 1917. Maybe the purported origin of the stamps were forgotten by the time the faked postmarks were applied. Stamps for Caucasian Azerbaijan republic appeared only in 1919. Finally, the bogus overprint itself has been forged many times. You can read the original article Kuzovkin regarding the stamps below.
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