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Postal History of Armenian Stamps - Introduction

This is the first of few blogs that I will be posting in the next coming months dedicated to Armenian stamps and its postal history. Armenia is surrounded by Georgia in North, Azerbaijan in East, Iran in the South and Turkey in West.

Although Imperial Russian postmarks were used in Armenia from 1858, as illustrated by the various Monogram, overprints and surcharges on the earlier Arms design stamps, the Armenian postage stamps have more in common with the Trident Issues of the Ukraine.

Both postal authorities used a device to overprint special characters depicting the different independent states at the time. This process was also used to effectively stop the importation of stamps obtainable outside the countries at a fraction of their postal price, as the latter were not overprinted. But the similarities stopped here. Due to historical events, Armenia was a very small country with very small population and lacked any efficient postal services. Yet Ukraine was blessed with a large postal organisation with much larger population then Armenia, which meant that the philatelists had every opportunity to keep abreast of postal history, take notes, keep records and evidence by way of covers, hence having a concrete base to pursue ideas and theories. However this was not the case for Armenian philatelists, postal records are almost non existent, covers and postally used stamps are scarce and when they are available, they usually originate from either Yerevan (Capital of Armenia) or Gyumri (known as Alexadrapol between 1837 and 1924), making Armenia as one of the most complicated philatelic countries and a very big challenge for any postage stamps collector to assemble any related information on Independent Armenia. Maybe this is one more reason for me deciding to write and study the Armenian postal history! and for that same reason, I would welcome any co-operation from fellow philatelists who may have further evidence and more fresh ideas to share with us.

Early postmarks called “Forerunners” were composed of dots in different shapes as per below:

these were then followed with postmarks and cancellation carrying the names of cities. From 1909 to 1918 Russian stamps with overprints were used in Armenia. These overprints were intertwined with Armenian letters H & P representing the initials of Hai post, the Armenian Post office.

Unfortunately there were a lot of forged surcharges, overprints and bogus cancellation which I will share with you in the following blogs.

Armenia temporarily become independent after the Russian revolution of 1917 and the First Republic of Armenia was founded on May 28, 1918. However its first stamps were issued in 1919 which consisted of Russian stamps with the overprints in various sizes, in black or violet, with or without the frame.

Russian Stamps 1909 - 1918 overprinted in black or violet

In 1919 one of the most famous Armenian artist and painter, Arshak Fetvadjian, was commissioned in Paris, to design and direct the printing of 10 stamps for the new republic. However due to occupation of Armenia at the time, these were never delivered and only a few were ever printed. There are no genuine postal usages of these stamps recorded, and there are many related forgeries.

From 1922 to 1991 Armenia became part of Transcaucasian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic. In 1922 Armenia issued its own definitive stamps but from 1923, overprinted Russian stamps were used. Between 1923 and 1924 as part of the constituent of the Transcaucasian Federation, Armenia produced 15 stamps of their own, perforated and unperforated. However from 1924, upon an official order issued by the central government of USSR, only regular Soviet Union stamps were used until November 1991 when Armenia was independent again. Throughout this period, few stamps commemorating the different Armenian nationalistic and ethnic topics were issued by the central authority, these included the 1950 set of three stamps issued to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of Soviet Armenian Republic, 1960 views of Mount Ararat from Yerevan (capital city) and in 1961 issued stamps celebrating Armenian personalities and national costumes.

Armenia became independent again on 21st September 1991 after the breakup of Soviet Union, although it’s first stamps were only issued on April 28, 1992 celebrating the independence Day. In my next blog, I will intend to drill into more details for each epoch of Armenian Stamp history.