History of Expertizing and Catalog Listings- Calvet Hahn

Nov 1 , 1999


History of Expertizing and Catalog Listings—Three Coins

This presentation focused upon several major covers—the 1860 90¢ Armitage cover, a 30¢ 1869 cover sold by Ivy, a 90¢ National cover,  the controversial Counsel Klep 5¢ Jefferson cover, a $4 Columbian cover, a 28¢ Blackjack cover to Ceylon and a catalog listing in the American Stampless Cover Catalog.

Several of these were examples of analytic write-ups made for the items at the time they were submitted for expert certificates.  This was the situation for the Blackjack Ceylon cover, which was deemed genuine in all respect.  The analysis followed the rate structure of the time and the various transits that would take the cover from Milwaukee to Jaffna, Ceylon.  The Columbian item was from Emil Boris in New York October 13, 1893 to the family firm in Paris sent on the steamer La Gascogne and represents what may be the only commercial use of the $4 Columbian.  Most high value Columbians were on philatelically inspired covers designed to be soaked for European off-cover collectors of the stamps and are on well-known correspondences.

  Major Covers

1) The Consul Klep cover from the Garnier correpondence was extensively analyzed on the Frajola website in October 1998 and the conclusions that the 5¢ strip had been added to a stampless cover are now generally accepted.  One problem was the ‘mailing’ origin of the item, which had fake New Orleans postmarks.  The argument hinged on the backstamped F. A. Bruguiere New York oval forwarder.  It was suggested that Bruguiere’s agent in New Orleans might have applied it, which has been rejected, while Mr. Frajola noted the handwriting matched Garnier correspondence items from Charleston.  However, the same handwriting is found on covers originating with the Bruguiere firm in New York from the same Garnier holding in 1857 so it seems unlikely to have originated elsewhere.

November1999page12) The 90¢ National cover was the subject of a piece in Chronicle #115 hailing it as a new find.  It also had a 6 and 12¢ National.  Several of us who knew the cover wrote to challenge its authenticity despite the fact it had a ‘clean’ certificate.  Even the party who had first obtained the certificate stated privately that they doubted that the stamp originated.  Critical was a ‘wrinkle’ on the 90¢ value.  This was a cover wrinkle that ran under the upper left corner of the stamp but did not affect the adhesive.  When reexamined under UV a ‘ghost image’ of a different stamp was located where the 90¢ is located which extended three mm above the stamp and measured one mm wider than the 90¢.  Further a large portion of the cancel on the stamp runs off the stamp, but not onto the cover.  Despite the certificate when it was sold in 1980, it was successfully returned to the prior owner and accepted as having the 90¢ added, but has subsequently appeared with the same certificate selling to a new buyer. It is unlikely that if the cover were resubmitted today it would still get a clean certificate.  This is a case of too great a reliance upon provenance and  accepting certificates rather than judging to see whether they make sense.

3)     The 30¢ 1869 cover is just the reverse.  In this case one expert adamantly insists it is a fake, probably made by Michael Zareski (1870s to early 1960s), an expert forger of fancy cancellations and substituting expensive stamps for cheap ones on old covers, which he ‘tied’ with a touch-up brush.  A basic reason is that the cover is overpaid with a 30¢ stamp on a single rate cover that only required 15¢.  The second reason alleged is that Zareski had both the knowledge and talent to make such a cover.  The third is a lack of provenance prior to its surfacing in the mid-1960s.  The cover got a good opinion in 1966 and again in the 1990s.  The counter arguments to a forgery are the fact that the sender is known to have overpaid several other covers, that this cover was prepaid as evidenced by the boxed PD and there is a strike of the same killer on the cover as is on the stamp.  To fake the stamp the entire killer on the stamp would have had to be ‘painted’, not a technique seen on Zareski covers; he tended to extend killers from the stamp onto the cover with carefully crafted paint jobs, not make complete faked cancels on unused stamps.  UV examination showed no evidence of tampering that I could find so I would contend the objection of overpayment and of lack of provenance is being used to overwhelm the technical analysis that says the cover is genuine.