Armenia 1921,the Soviet Republic gets some iffy stamps out before the inevitable integration

Armenians had a terrible time around the time of this stamp. Armenians had suffered a horrible massacre in the hands of the Ottoman Turks. Finally a little hope when the Russian Revolution for a short period lost grip of Armenia. Only to have that grip come back a few years later. So slip on your smoking jacket, fill your pipe, take your first sip of your adult beverage, and sit back in your most comfortable chair. Welcome to todays offering from The Philatelist.

With it’s unusual paper and being imperferate, there is an air of this being a fake stamp. There is some reason to think this even though catalogs recognize them. The very short lived republic of Armenia ordered stamps printed in Paris but never actually delivered as the government fell so fast. Than the Soviet Republic that put out this issue was quickly folded into the Transcaucasian Socialist Federation with Georgia and Azerbaijan. They also had a few stamps till the Soviets just made them use the Russian issues. In fact only one denomination, the 25 Ruble, of this series even made it into post offices. The catalog does not even list a canceled version but urges the stamp collector to be on the lookout for fakes. I think perhaps sympathy for the Armenians plight might have lead the catalog to list a fake stamp. Just my opinion…

Todays stamp is issue A16, a 1000 Ruble stamp issued by the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1921. The stamp displays a fisherman on the Aras River. It was part of a 17 stamp issue in various denominations. According to the Scott catalog, the stamp is worth 40 cents. There is also a perforated version of the stamp but that does not effect it’s value either way. One can see the high denomination, later once the rampant inflation of the time was dealt with, there were overstamps of this issue with the new denominations. These tend to have a slightly higher value.

Armenia tried to get itself free from both Turkey and Russia at the end of World War I. The Turkish genocide of Armenians, many who had fought for czarist Russia, caused a migration of ethnic Armenians to the new country. The peace treaty between the Bolsheviks and the new nation of Turkey left certain areas in Turk hands that Armenians thought belonged to them. Soon the Red Army arrived in the area to bring Armenia and the other new countries back into the fold. After fighting a deal was struck with Armenia becoming an autonomous Soviet Republic in return for the Red Army guaranteeing the borders and no persecution of former non communists. When this last part was reneged upon, a new Armenian mountainous republic rebelled and held out for another year but without stamps.

The Soviet Union then had the idea of merging Christian Armenia and Georgia with Muslim Azerbiajan as the Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic.  With atheism and Soviet nationalism being promoted, the Soviets had hope for this. Of course the divisions were too deep and eventually in 1936 the states were allowed to be separate Soviet Republics.

Interestingly, in 1922 the Soviets appointed Alexander Martuni as their leader on site. He was a scholor of Armenian arts and literature and even wrote books and articles promoting it. This allowed a separate Armenian culture to flourish and did much to lessen opposition. However Moscow began to worry that Martuni was not Sovietizing the place fast enough. In 1925 he was killed in a suspicious plane crash of the Junkers F.13 he was flying in. Some believe Minister of State Security Beria was behind the crash. Unusually for a Soviet era official, Martuni is still revered in modern independent Armenia, even getting a stamp issue honoring him in 2012. Armenia achieved independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

Well my drink is empty ao I will open the conversation in the below comment section. Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting.

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