SOME OF THE RARITIES IN ESTONIAN PHILATELY

(Summary of an article by Vambola Hurt in Eesti Filatelist #24-25, 1979)

Catalogue collection:

There is no doubt that the most rare Estonian stamps are all items of the semi-official Rakvere Issue and certain values of the Official Tallinn (Eesti Post) Issue of 1919. The Rakvere stamps can be found only in a very few collections. The original issue was very small and quite a few of them seem for ever to be lost in the years of several wars. Specially rare are the overprints on uncut wrappers. A complete wrapper set is known only in one collection, unfortunately not all of them in mint condition. Postal stationary overprinted in Rakvere represents the same class of rarities. Specially the envelopes.

Although the number of "Eesti Post" stamps is bigger than given in literature (according to H. Alver), relatively the issue still is very small, specially the rubel-values. Unfortunately, the number of forgeries is very high. Some of the fakes are of high quality. It does not help that some of the forgeries have been approved by recognised experts.

From the rest of the Estonian stamps some must be specially mentioned:

The Flower Issue 15 kop. perforated.
Air Mail Overprints of 1923: 10 and 20 Mk perforated, and 45 Mk 2nd overprint.
The "Aita Hädalist" Issue.

The perforated 15 kop. of the Flowers Issue is actually a perforation trial ordered by the Postal Authorities. The trial was made on sheets of printers waste from the 1st and 2nd printings (perf. 11 1/2). The marginal stamps was not perforated on the outside. Therefore, there are stamps perforated only on three or two (corner stamps) sides. The trial was not considered successful and therefore not repeated. The total number of the perforated stamps is not known. According to Schönherr, the Post Office in Tallinn sold about 6.500 stamps to a dealer, who sent most of them (minus 200 has been mentioned) via Finland to Germany. The Package never arrived and its fate is still unknown. It has been mentioned in the literature that a small number of stamps was sold over the counter by the Post Office. The exact figure is unknown. So, the total number of the stamps still in circulation should not exceed 1000. Genuine items are very rare. Most of the "perforated" stamps in collections are forgeries or private perforations - to be recognised by good perforation quality and the stamps mostly being from the 4th and 5th printings. Specially rare is the stamp in block of four and naturally on cover. Probably only 2 - 3 covers may exist.

The issue of the 10 and 20 Mk airmail overprint of 1923 in Päevaleht perforation was 300 resp. 2000. Specially of the 10 Mk only a few genuine stamps still exist. Only 2 - 3 blocks of four are known. The second overprint of the 45 Mk airmail was issued in 3.234 copies. It can be rather easily recognised - the space between 5 and M is more than 2 mm.

The total issue of "Aita Hädalist" is small. Specially seldom to be found are the horizontally unperforated stamps - issues 840 and 830. As blocks of four they exist only in 2 - 3 collections. Naturally all covers are very rare.

Paper varieties:

Sea Gull Issue 5 p.
According to Eichenthal the stamp exists on white carton paper and also on grey paper. The same varieties are given by Weiner. Also Schönherr mentions the carton paper. A few copies are known.

Sea Gull Issue 35 p.
Only 3 - 4 copies of this stamp are known printed on silk paper. How many originally were printed is not known.

Weaver Issue 2 1/2 Mk.
It is today practically impossible to find any item of this stamp printed on horizontally ribbed paper, specially in mint condition. It is known to exist only in very few collections.

New Currency Overprints 1928 15 s.
For this issue a new printing of all stamps was made on the so called last paper (wove pattern paper). However, the stamp is known also on horizontally ribbed and thin paper. Both are extremely rare, specially in mint condition and must be considered to be among the greatest rarities.

Carrier Pigeon 15 s.
From the middle of the thirties Estonian stamps were printed on white chalk surfaced paper purchased from England. This was continued until due to the war the deliveries were stopped. The last Estonian issues was printed on German chalk surfaced paper, considerably greyer in colour. This paper was used for the Carrier Pigeon Issue and also for the reprints of the 15 s. President Päts and 1 s. of the Coat of Arms Issue. A few sheets of the white paper still existed in the stock and have been used in printing the 15 s. Carrier Pigeon stamp. G. Westenberg explains that when a few sheets were damaged at printing, replacements were ordered and a few sheets of white paper were handed out. How many white sheets were printed is not known.

Coat of Arms Issue, reprint of 1 s.
The same procedure as above seems to have occurred. Even less copies are known. No cancelled stamp has been found.

Other varieties:

Flowers Issue 35 p.
Printed on both sides. According to Schönherr only one printing sheet was sold. It is very probable that one more sheet has existed as after the war a few slightly different copies (colour and gum) have come to the market in Sweden. The origin of these can be tracked to the original printing house in Nõmme.

Sea Gull Issue 5 p.
Lemon yellow and pinkish yellow. In the very beginning red was mixed in the printing colour, but this was discontinued. According to Schönherr about 10.000 stamps were printed. The number of the lemon yellow variety is unknown. Both varieties are almost impossible to find. I have not seen them in mint condition.

Viking Ship Issue 1 and 5 Mk.
The printing sheet of 200 was cut into two counter sheets already in the Printing Works. A very few printing sheets were sold uncut. From these tèté-bèché pairs with gutter are known. 1 Mk can be found more easily - also at least one complete printing sheet does exist. The tèté-bèché pairs of 5 Mk. are extremely rare.

Viking Ship Issue, inverted center piece, 5 Mk.
According to McDonald the variety doubtless has been printed with genuine plates. The printed sheets probably found their way directly to collectors and were never sold at counter. However, this has not been proved. Supposedly the stamp was printed in two printing sheets. Both distinctly different. Only a very few copies still are in existence. Quite a few forgeries are known. To be recognised by the very white paper and a somewhat smaller frame. The forgery is very well done and has betrayed even experienced collectors.

Air Mail Overprint 10 Mk. perforated.
In one or two sheets one row has not been perforated. Thus pairs exists unperforated in the middle.

Weaver 3 Mk.
One sheet of the stamp on horizontally ribbed paper is known partially (?) imperforate. The imperforate copies are very rare.

New Currency Overprints 1928, 2 and 5 s.
When printing the 2 s. and 5 s. values, a serious displacement took place. The result was that the two s´s being above the year-figures. That also means that one row lacks the s's. Schönherr says that one sheet was partly used in the War Ministry before detected and withdrawn. A few mint copies also exist. The 5 s. variety is more rare. Probably one counter sheet of each value was delivered and sold until detected.

Overprint 1928, 10 s. imperforate.
According to Schönherr one counter-sheet did reach the counter, the other three were noticed and withdrawn. The variety is very rare, specially in block of four.

Philatelic Exhibition 1928, imperforate.
One counter-sheet reached circulation (by the help of Mr Teetsov?). After the war from the stock of proofs in the Government Printing Works an additional number found its way to the collectors. It is known only in a few collections. Specially rare as block of four.

Crown Surcharges 3 Kroon/300 Mk.
On one sheet the blue burelage has been printed twice. This variety was detected quite late so that most copies had been used up. Belongs to the group of greatest varieties, specially in mint condition.

Coat of Arms Issue 5 s. and 20 s.
Fault of perforation, one or several sides imperforate (20 s. always only one side imperforate). Probably only one sheet partially or completely sold. Today known only 4-5 copies.

Stamp Booklet.
The first Estonian stamp booklet was produced in 1930. The stamps of the Coat of Arms Issue were used - one block of six of the 5 Senti value and three blocks of six of the 10 Senti. As the price of the booklet was rather stiff, not many were bought by the collectors. Only a very limited number (less than 10?) still exist today.

Additional varieties could be mentioned of which today only a very limited number still can be found in collections:

1. Flower Design 15 K - large P.
2. Number Design 10 p - half of the zero missing.
3. Viking Ship Issue 1 Mk and 5 Mk - strongly shifted center piece.


4. Airmail 5 Mk - white spot.
5. View of Tallinn 50 p - pair with gutter.
6. Weaver/Blacksmith - pairs with gutter.
7. Weaver/Blacksmith - partially imperforate.
8. Blacksmith 5 Mk - print on patched paper.
9. Coat of Arms 10 s - printed on the gummed side.
10. Coat of Arms 15 s yellow and 1 s - double perforation.
11. Coat of Arms 15 s - leopard with five paws.

Deliberately the issues from the German occupation period have been excluded. Also on purpose the colour varieties of the Flower Design Stamps have not been mentioned - they are quite easy to "manufacture". A chapter for itself would be the rarity of certain stamps on cover. Quite a few "common" stamps are extremely difficult to find on cover.