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Postage stamp forgeries and counterfeit identification

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Of Portugal / Azores 1925 "Padrões da Grande Guerra" varieties and forgeries

Of Portugal / Azores 1925 Here's an interesting bunch of stamps that has made me pulling my hair. The stamps might very well be genuine, or they might be fake - no way to tell with my limited knowledge, but I suspect the latter. In 1925 Portugal issued four 10 centavos postal tax stamps to collect funds for construction of memorial stones (Padrões)  of "great war" of 1918. The topic of stamp was allegorical drawing by Armando Concalves, and the stamps were issued in four colors: blue, brown, green and rose. According to sources the stamps were printed in lithography at Casa da Moeda (Portuguese Mint) on sheets of 100 stamps, and line perforated at perforation 11 x 11. One million copies of each stamp were prepared. Some of these stamps were overprinted for use in Azores, and that is what I have. ...(709 words,6 images, 1 comments)

Forgeries of 1946 Syrian Qanawat airmail stamps

Forgeries of 1946 Syrian Qanawat airmail stampsThis weeks article picks up pretty much where I left off two years back with my entry about Lebanese stamp forgeries, except being on topic of  fake Syrian postage.  For what I know, the source of these fakes is the same. ...(436 words,3 images, 2 comments)

German (Reich) hyperinflation era stamps - fake vs. genuine postmarks

German (Reich) hyperinflation era stamps - fake vs. genuine postmarksPostally used stamps of German hyperinflation era are said to be minefield of fake cancellations. Each and every stamp catalogue provides a slightly different wording, but the baseline is same: catalog values (from August 1916/early 1919 to end of 1923) apply only for INFLA-signed/certified copies, anything else should be treated equal to mint stamps value. Thus it is somewhat excruciating that many sellers, buyers and collectors do not pay any importance to provided guiding, but always get stuck with the *what if...* scenario. ...(1158 words,5 images, 4 comments)

Forgeries of 1940s Japanese definitive stamps

Forgeries of 1940s Japanese definitive stampsNot so long back I acquired a mixture of "Chinese" stamps. As always with packages described like this, the contents was actually mixture of oriental stamps from Persia to Japan, and anything in between having non-western writing. Possibly the most interesting part of the lot were various forgeries of Japanese definitive stamps of the 1940s. These forgeries are said to be very common and a guaranteed part of every worldwide collection build since 1960s. ...(532 words,5 images, 3 comments)

Van Diemens Land (Tasmania) four pence Chalon forgery

Van Diemens Land (Tasmania) four pence Chalon forgeryOne of the most famous classic stamp designs are so called Chalon Head (aka just 'Chalon') issued in various British colonies from 1850s to early 1880s. The name of these stamps comes from the use portrait of young Queen Victoria, which is based upon a painting by Alfred Chalon.   I admit that for me the Chalon stamps are largely unknown territory. I discovered my first Chalon Head only after twenty years of collecting, and even today my world collection has no no more more than maybe dozen different items.  So I really don't have much first hand experience on these stamps.  But even that little bit was enough to alert my senses that the below newcomer from Van Diemens Land (better known as Tasmania) was a guaranteed fake. ...(455 words,3 images, 4 comments)

Paraguay 1937 Church of Incarnation airmail with strange perf - genuine or fake

Paraguay 1937 Church of Incarnation airmail with strange perf - genuine or fakePossibly the hardest part of being a worldwide stamp collector is identifying whether or not something is genuine or not, especially when you have got only one copy of a stamp to study. Such is the case of this Paraguayan airmail stamp that got me scratching my head for a long time. ...(449 words,3 images, 4 comments)

Random notes on Guatemalan stamps

Random notes on Guatemalan stampsThis week I've worked my way through a pile of stamps from Central and South American countries, and above all the stamps of Guatemala have once again caught my interest. ...(546 words,5 images, 2 comments)

Russian Federation 1992 Saint Petersburg local make-up stamps

Russian Federation 1992 Saint Petersburg local make-up stampsUpgrading a stamp catalog is always a double-edged experience where you win some, lose some. When I upgraded to more recent edition of Michel East Europe catalog, I was very pleased to see that Michel now lists Russian St. Petersburg and Leningrad local stamps of 1992. These were previously listed only with Stanley Gibbons Russia catalog, and as such a lot of collectors (yours truly included) didn't know what these are, and as such they were often falsely classified or thrown away as bogus stamps. ...(555 words,2 images, 1 comments)

Thank goodness, they're all Cancelled-To-Order

Thank goodness, they're all Cancelled-To-OrderLike most of the traditionally trained stamp collectors I was taught to frown upon CTO (cancelled-to-order) stamps. As such even today I still prefer a postally used copy over CTO whenever possible. So when I started learning about the history of League of Nations (SdN; Société des Nations) stamps I recently got, I was surprised to find out that for them CTO is the 'norm' whereas anything else frowned upon. ...(660 words,5 images, 5 comments)

Forgery of 1944 Barcelona postal tax stamp (Ayuntamiento de Barcelona)

Forgery of 1944 Barcelona postal tax stamp (Ayuntamiento de Barcelona)One of the interesting differences between various worldwide stamp catalogs is how differently they classify and list obligatory postal tax stamps. For example Michel and Yvert assign major numbers to all Barcelona City Council (Ayuntamiento de Barcelona) postal tax stamps, whereas Scott and Stanley Gibbons bypass them with a note 'used on correspondence purely for the purpose of raising local revenue and therefore listing is omitted'. ...(429 words,2 images, 2 comments)

Hamburg 1864 2½ schilling in brownish khaki - genuine or not

Hamburg 1864 2½ schilling in brownish khaki - genuine or notI'm usually not attracted by uncancelled items, but the below Hamburg 1864 2½ schilling stamp caught my interest since stamps of Hamburg are somewhat rarely seen. From first looks it appears as Michel #14  (Scott 23) with one clear exception: the color of the stamp is brownish khaki instead of the standard green-ish color. The starting situation in itself poses two mind-intriguing questions.  First, is the stamp genuine or not?  And second, if it is genuine, then what could have caused the color change? ...(1075 words,3 images, 6 comments)

How common are forgeries of classic stamps? And why are they so plenty? 

How common are forgeries of classic stamps? And why are they so plenty? Carl Sagan, famous astronomer once said 'You have to know the past to understand the present'. These words hold very true for philatelic fakes, forgeries, facsimiles, reprints and the whole shady she-bang territory that comes along of collecting classic postage stamps. In order to understand the size and complexity of the problem, one has to understand the backgrounds that made stamp forgeries possible and common in the first place. ...(1124 words,2 images, 5 comments)

Lebanese stamp forgeries

Lebanese stamp forgeriesConsidering how much catalogs and advanced worldwide collectors warn about forgeries of Lebanese stamps, I have been amazed by their lack within my collection. This status changed recently, and I am now able to re-tell a remarkable campfire story with some details and images of the commonly found counterfeits. ...(515 words,5 images, 2 comments)

Indore stamps of 1904/08 - engraved, litho, or both?

Indore stamps of 1904/08 - engraved, litho, or both?I'm not the easiest kind of collector to get confused but the below Indore stamps with portrait of young Maharaja Tukojirao Holkar III have got me perplexed. In 1904 Perkins Bacon won the contract for printing of Indore stamps from Waterlow, and from there onwards all Indore stamps were printed in recess by Perkins Bacon until 1940. Simple and sweet, except when going through my recent acquisition I noted that a couple of these stamps did not feel engraved to tweezer tip, but they had the appearance of genuine stamp. This marked the beginning of another trip down the rabbit hole. ...(961 words,6 images, 7 comments)

Charkhari stamps

Charkhari stampsRecently I've been bugging my head with a lot job of 300+ stamps of  various Indian feudatory states.  The stamps were ripped down from a number of vintage Big Blue remainders and other 'junior' stamp albums of the yesteryear, so I don't have huge expectations to find any rarities or as such, but who knows what lurks in an oddball lot like this.  Needless to say the challenges of this lot are numerous. Some stamps of Indian native states are simply difficult to identify because they lack any comprehensible western characters.  Few stamps are in condition far worse than what I wish/desire to include into my collection, but as I've got no clue on what's the 'average condition' for these is, I  don't like to throw them out neither (at least yet). And then there's the question of forgeries - for many Indian native states the forgeries are said to outnumber the genuine, especially with mint/unused. So all in all I'm having one fun summer project that will hopefully educate me a lot about this complex area in weeks to come.  As my first stop I've chosen Charkhari, a small (population ~120,000) princely state in Central India. ...(1824 words,10 images, 2 comments)

Nabha fake overprint - a possible Hialeah forgery?

Nabha fake overprint - a possible Hialeah forgery?Many worldwide collectors are wary with overprints, and maybe for good reasons. I was adding some stamps of Indian states to my collection, when I noted the overprint on one of the Nabha stamps looked very different from the crowd. Needless to say I had stumbled upon a crude fake that had sat on my collection for few years.  If I had not received several duplicates to compare, I guess it would have gone unnoticed. ...(404 words,3 images, 4 comments)

Postal forgeries of modern Chinese stamps

Postal forgeries of modern Chinese stampsNot so long ago I was adding some modern Chinese stamps to my collection, when I observed one of the newcomers having a different perforation than the one already in my collection. I quickly double-checked all my catalogs and came up with nothing special: the stamp should have no varieties.  Followed by a bit of frustration I got in touch with a Chinese collector who I knew was into fakes, and learned that I had found of one of the many postal forgeries of modern Chinese stamps. ...(404 words,2 images, 6 comments)

Marginal notes about stamps of Italy

Marginal notes about stamps of ItalyTime for the second part of my 'marginal notes' , and this time we're heading into Italy. The topics of this article include stamps of Polish Resettlement Corps in Italy, CLN /Partisan stamps of Upper Varese, and a double print/KISS flaw on CEPT-stamp. As always, hope you enjoy the stamp extravaganza ahead. ...(855 words,4 images, 6 comments)

Dutch Armenwet (poors law) stamps

Dutch Armenwet (poors law)  stampsI displayed the below Dutch Armenwet stamps first time almost six years back. Back then I didn't know whether or not the stamps I had were forgeries/counterfeits, though I suspected so. Well, now I have some facts to share. On my recent work trip I came across with a library copy of the “De vervalsingen van Nederland en OG” (roughly translates as ‘Forgeries of Dutch stamps’) by P.F.A. van de Loo, 1979), and I took some some photos of it with my phone so that I could study and compare them back home. ...(609 words,4 images, 4 comments)

How to check if a stamp is a forgery or genuine, lesson 2 - a case of 1870 Spanish Allegory of Hispania

How to check if a stamp is a forgery or genuine, lesson 2 - a case of 1870 Spanish Allegory of HispaniaHere's yet another stamp that I think a lot of worldwide collectors recognize. The 1870 50 Milesimas ultramarin is likely one of the most common 19th century Spanish stamps, and I encountered my first copy of it almost thirty years ago as a young collector. But this is the first time I've seen a specimen like this. ...(558 words,3 images, 3 comments)

How to check if a stamp is a forgery or genuine - a case study of Spanish 1854 Una Unza official stamp

How to check if a stamp is a forgery or genuine - a case study of Spanish 1854 Una Unza official stampClassic Spain is said to be a minefield of forgeries, but the problem I've got is the same that just about every worldwide collector faces: How to find out if stamp is genuine or not, especially when there's no more than one or two specimens under my nose. With this post I'll uncover some of my methods. ...(765 words,3 images, 2 comments)

Forgeries of Spanish State 1936 definitives

Forgeries of Spanish State 1936 definitivesWhen I spotted one of these forgeries several years ago, little did I know that I would be covering them time and again. But I guess that is the nature of stamp collecting, because collections mature as new information and items are gathered. I re-visited these stamps before the summer for my monthly forgeries column in Stamp & Coin Mart magazine, but since space is always limited on the print, I thought I’d do a longer and more visual overview of these stamps and their interesting historical aspect on later date for my blog. ...(875 words,6 images, 0 comments)

Men who changed stamp design forever

Men who changed stamp design foreverDynamic duo, designer Koloman Moser and engraver Ferdinand Schirnböck revolutionized stamp design in the early 20th century. One of their most recognizable works is the 1906/1912 pictorial landscapes series for the Condominium of Bosnia and Herzegovina. These stamps are big, bold and beautiful in every sense (and of course there are forgeries involved as well). ...(740 words,18 images, 2 comments)

Cancellation forgeries on Finnish stamps

Cancellation forgeries on Finnish stampsPossibly the most dangerous forgery type involves fake postmarks. With them you’ve got 100% legit stamp, but the postmark on top of it is either complete fake or fraudulently used genuine canceller. Many of you readers may know that for example the German inflation era stamps are a minefield for cancellation forgeries, but how many of you did know that the same applies for classical stamps of independent Finland as well? ...(819 words,3 images, 0 comments)

Some observations about Serbian 1905 King Peter stamps and it's forgeries

Some observations about Serbian 1905 King Peter stamps and it's forgeriesRecently I acquired a small bulk lot of Serbian stamps, and I had a ball with it, especially the 1905 King Peter stamps. This series has got eleven stamps, with face values from 1 para up to 5 dinars, all with identical design featuring portrait of King Peter the First of Serbia. ...(545 words,7 images, 3 comments)

Montenegro 1896 Cetanje monestry forgery by Fournier

Montenegro 1896 Cetanje monestry forgery by FournierMoving on with topic of stamp forgeries, I recently acquired a small accumulation of classic stamps of Montenegro. As I knew the stamps of Montenegro had been heavily forged at the early days of philately, I was prepared to come up with at least one or two forged specimens. And I was not disappointed. ...(318 words,5 images, 7 comments)

A modern Soviet forgery

A modern Soviet forgeryI was working with my Russian and Soviet collections last weekend, and upon sorting through a small accumulation of postally used Soviet definitives, I came upon a specimen which appeared a bit odd. Upon closer inspection, I found out that just about everything on this specimen was wrong. ...(332 words,4 images, 7 comments)

Some unissued Russian Civil war era stamps from Armenia

Some unissued Russian Civil war era stamps from ArmeniaI had an unexpectedly busy weekend due to an work related crisis, and thus had to push down my 'stamping plans' considerably. So instead of digging into big pile of Nepalese stamps that's been waiting my soak tray for several weeks, I started sorting a notably smaller lot of miscellaneous Europe. And there I found a couple of Armenian stamps from the Russian civil war era worth sharing. ...(466 words,2 images, 8 comments)

Klaipeda forgeries

Klaipeda forgeriesIf you've not heard of stamps of Klaipeda before, worry not. It was new to me since late last year, when I landed with a small lot of Klaipeda forgeries. Shortly put, Klaipeda is Lithuanian name for what's usually referred as the (German plebiscite territory of) Memel in stamp world. Lithuania occupied the Memel territory from the Germans during January 1923 and declared it as autonomous region of Klaipeda within Lithuania. ...(415 words,4 images, 8 comments)

Reprints or forgeries of Haitian stamp issue of 1904

Reprints or forgeries of Haitian stamp issue of 1904As I recently received a copy of Tyler Varro's excellent Focus on forgeries, I think it's only fair that I put it into to good use and extend the knowledge it provides by sharing some real world examples. The book describes two different forgeries of Haitian series of 1904 (namely 1 and 50c), but leaves other values without examples. Tyler does state that in addition of genuine stamps all values exists as reprints (from original plates) and forgeries, and they can be very hard to distinguish apart from perforations. ...(447 words,3 images, 5 comments)

Venezuela 1896 Apoteosis De Miranda forgeries

Venezuela 1896 Apoteosis De Miranda forgeriesStamps have been used as means of international politics through ages, and the Venezuelan set of 1896 is a prime example of that. The so called 'Venezuela Crisis of 1895' was about the territory of Essequibo and Guayana Esequiba, which Britain claimed as part of British Guiana and Venezuela saw as Venezuelan territory. Venezuela supported its claim by printing a postage stamp series (known as 'Apoteosis De Miranda')with a map showing claimed areas "Guayana Venezolana" which escalated the crisis further including also the involvement of US. The crisis ended in 1899 when the disputed territory was awarded to British Guiana, but the stamps remain as reminder of events. ...(304 words,3 images, 5 comments)

Forgeries (or reprints) of Ajman stamps

Forgeries (or reprints) of Ajman stampsIt's the last day of my summer holidays, and I've spent it with one of my favorite topics: the stamps of Sand Dunes. I know, I know... They're 'wallpaper' stamps. But trust me, they do have their appeal. If yesterday's topic of unlisted perforation varieties on stamps of Dubai, stamps didn't get You measuring some perforations, then hopefully this post about Ajman stamps does. I assume the following stamps are either forgeries or reprints (by issuing agency). The common characteristics for all is that they are of perforation other than stated on the catalogs. ...(547 words,5 images, 7 comments)

Azerbaijan stamps of 1923: forgery times two

Azerbaijan stamps of 1923: forgery times twoFew summers back I wrote about stamps and postal history Azerbaijan, and back then I also shared an image of somewhat common Russian civil war era bogus stamp series for "White Azerbaijan". Today I can add a little bit more to that story by showing something that I believe is a forgery times two. ...(191 words,2 images, 5 comments)

Belgium 1882/1894 Parcel Post stamp forgeries

Belgium 1882/1894 Parcel Post stamp forgeriesI was doing my usual 'sunday morning rounds' on the web reading various stamp related boards, when I found an an interesting topic asking how to identify Belgium 1882/1894 Parcel Post Issue forgeries. There were no answers to topic (at the time), but this is an interesting question as I've had nearly 20 years two stamps from this series that I believe to be fakes. So I started to search for more knowledge. ...(404 words,2 images, 8 comments)

Forgeries of classic Ecuador stamps

Forgeries of classic Ecuador stampsMoving on with topic of classic Ecuador stamps, I can not overpass the topic of forgeries. They are said to be very plenty, especially for the first three issues there are likely more forgeries than real stamps. Despite my collection of classic Ecuador is just one page, I can still come up with few interesting items to share. ...(285 words,3 images, 11 comments)

Forgery of Camp Post Hanau stamp / label

Forgery of Camp Post Hanau stamp / labelHere is another interesting piece I have lately added to my collections… After the 2nd world war, Europe and especially Germany had millions of displaced persons that were left adrift. As an establishment to bring order into chaos and help people in return to their homes, the governments (and allied forces) started to gather these persons into camps by nationality. Many of these camps provided local postal services. And this is where my item of the day, Camp Post Hanau stamp, comes along. Hanau was an Estonian-Latvian DP camp about 25 km east of Frankfurt am Main. ...(256 words,1 images, 8 comments)

Some Chinese stamps - cancellation forgeries or something else?

Some Chinese stamps - cancellation forgeries or something else? These days stamps don't get me confused often, but the below Chinese stamps have done that. These are from the same lot as the Japanese Taxe Percue cut squares I wrote few weeks back. The stamps are ok, but the cancellations... I've got a nasty gut feeling I've landed with a pile of cancellation forgeries on common Chinese stamps. ...(206 words,3 images, 18 comments)

Stamps of Azerbaijan

Stamps of AzerbaijanAs my family's gone to a graduation party for entire afternoon and left me home to rest, I've got some good time to write a bit about stamps I like. So let's dig in with stamps and history of Azerbaijan. ...(685 words,6 images, 21 comments)

Persian mystery - 1906 Provisoire stamps with unlisted overprint

Persian mystery - 1906 Provisoire stamps with unlisted overprintNot so long ago I purchased a small accumulation of Persian 1906 Provisoire stamps from local auction. To my surprise, the auctioneer had misidentified the items. True, the stamps I received appear to be 1906 Provisoire issue stamps. But they have some additional unlisted overprint, and this has got me lost too. ...(230 words,1 images, 13 comments)

Argentina 1862 Coat of Arms - a common counterfeit stamp

Argentina  1862 Coat of Arms - a common counterfeit stampThe 1862 Argentina Coat of Arms, also known as "small shields" type, were the first stamps of Argentina after the unification. They were printed by Roberto Lange in lithography, containing 3 different values of 5c rose,10c green and 15c blue. Catalogs state these stamps were printed in 1862,1863 and 1864; and number of forgeries is plenty. As the real things have somewhat high catalog values, I've got a (somewhat common) counterfeit of 10 centavos green to display. ...(236 words,2 images, 3 comments)

Angola bogus stamps - and a story behind Fournier forgery

Angola bogus stamps - and a story behind Fournier forgeryAs Angola is these days part of the evil empire of IGPC (philatelic agency, which produces most of the topical stamps for small islands and developing countries), I was not hardly surprised when I lately received a selection of pretty CTO-used Angola topical stamps. But I was slightly amazed when they all turned out as complete and utter bogus (for some I suspected it, but not all). ...(332 words,4 images, 9 comments)

1877 3d red Samoa Times Express stamp

1877 3d red Samoa Times Express stampThe Samoa Times Express stamps are one of the most valued items in classical philately. So I was quite surprised to find the following stamp in 25€ mixture of old stamps I bought some time ago. As reprints and forgeries of these Samoan Express stamps are much more commonplace than the real thing, I had very low hopes. But to my surprise, it seems I have landed upon a real deal. ...(690 words,3 images, 10 comments)

Goddess of plenty - more about Seebeck reprints

Goddess of plenty - more about Seebeck reprintsIn early January I wrote a short introduction about Seebeck reprints on some Nicaraguan stamps. Well, it's time for a short revisit on the topic as I've received few more Nicaraguan stamps from various stamp exchanges. The following examples are from the 1891 "Goddess of plenty" / "Allegorical figure with cornucopia" series (with very attractive design). ...(275 words,3 images, 4 comments)

Seebeck reprints

Seebeck reprintsThe name of Seebeck is something that many stamp collectors and philatelist recognize at some level. He was a stamp dealer and printer, best known for his stamp-printing contracts with several Latin American countries in the late 19th century producing loads of stamps to collector markets. ...(408 words,6 images, 3 comments)

German colonies Yacht stamp issue

German colonies Yacht stamp issue The Yacht issue refers to a series of German colonies postage stamps bearing the image of the Imperial yacht Hohenzollern.  These stamps were used in all of Germany's colonies meaning Caroline Islands, German East Africa, German New Guinea, German South West Africa, Kamerun, Kiatschou, Mariana Islands, Marshall Islands, Samoa and Togo from 1900 until the First World War. ...(249 words,1 images, 0 comments)

Industrial Exhibition in Madrid - modern forgery of classic stamp

Industrial Exhibition in Madrid - modern forgery of classic stampThis stamp was issued was originally published in 1907 for Madrid Industrial Exhibition in Spain. It is an obligatory fund raiser "stamp" that had to be attached in exhibition mail in addition of regular postage stamps. A complete set contains six different face value stamps with pictures of King Alfonso XIII and Queen Victoria.   ...(214 words,2 images, 8 comments)

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