Fabulous fakes
By: Louis Grunin

May 1 , 2003

This seminar, entitled “Fabulous Classic US. Fakes and Forgeries”, was led by Louis Grunin. As Chairman of the Philatelic Foundation, Mr. Grunin was very well qualified to lead this discussion. He passed around a number of classic covers and asked the attendees to identify the covers that were fake and to explain why. An analysis of each of these covers is provided below, along with illustrations. Following Mr. Grunin’s suggestions, viewers are invited to examine each of these covers and to determine: (a) if they are fake and (b) why, before reading the analysis (by Calvet M. Hahn) below.



Figures 1 and 2: Look at this pair of covers, with the rare illustrated item at top and the antiwar cover at the bottom, both from Carrollton, Ill. and both dated in June with a tied imperforate three cent stamp. Which is the fake? The top cover is an English production made by F. Deraedemacker, as it states at the bottom. In 1890, Deraedemacker made an excellent reproduction of an 1850s illustrated cover, an example of which is show here, with a three cent stamp added, clearly out of period. Note the weak, watery nature of the carbon black cancellation, which rests on the surface of the stamp and envelope, and which is typical of a John Fox fake. Also note the handwriting breaks on the antiwar cover, which is also typical of a number of Fox fakes. These are often the signs of traced writing. The American Stampless Cover Catalog reports that this town used the IL cds version only until 1848, at which point it began to use the ILL from that date through 1853, after which a 34-mm size cds was used. Both covers have bad PF certificates #38762 and #38763, respectively.

Figures 3: Here we have a large margined Scott #16 tied to a cover to New Hampshire. The basic problem is that this 64L1, the only stamp on the plate with both top and bottom lines recut, doesn’t plate to that position. The recut lines at top and bottom are very carefully inked in, but are slightly different in shade and the stamp plates to 87R with a bad PF certificate #185, 536. Under UV light, there is an outline of a missing stamp.


Figure 4: This item is seen in the Neinken Ten Cent book on page 161 where Mr. Neinken described it as a Type II and suggested the partial stamp is perhaps a quadrisect to pay the ship fee on a private letter ship letter brought to the Post Office by the Hudson Bay’s supply ship circa 1856-57. An apparent companion cover with the same type of franking was seen some years later in the Bilden stock, but was not purchased because it was a duplicate, a decision since regretted because of the research possibilities as to whether is was genuine. The problem with the illustrated cover is that the OU of Vancouver is carefully drawn in, along with the rim above, suggesting there were originally two ten cent stamps, with the envelope showing just touches of shadow in the area that would be involved. Consequently, was it a double letter from Vancouver or an even more desirable incoming ship letter overpaid?

Figure 5: This cover, from an 1971 sale, shows a bold green killer (similar to ST-S14 in the Eno book) tying a Three Cent Scott #26. It also has a March 22, 1861 double cds from Milford, MS. The problem with this cover is the killer’s ink, which seems to be out-of-period analine ink.

Figure 6: The Painesville, OH Masonic cover seems to be the reason for the listing of FR-M4b16 in the Eno book, where is is questioned based on this cover. Under UV you can see the outline of another stamp. Note too that the Masonic cancels are struck at awkward angles for a genuine strike.


Figure 7: The 30 cent cover to Algeria is rated as Paid 12, as the U.S. credit to France for a single rate cover, not the 30 cents seen, which would represent a double rate (Hargest Table 16). Careful examination of the back also shows that the date is 1866, not 1860, so that the stamp was demonetized. What was probably originally on the cover was a 15 cent Lincoln. This type of substitution is typical of French forger Zaretskie.

Figure 8: This Confederate period cover to Bordeaux with the too dark black New Orleans cds is the correct color cds (used only for a few weeks in 1861), but the wrong black shade; however, again we find the NEW 3 YORK indicates an unpaid single rate via the British Cunard line’s Arabia, departing New York on the 13th and arriving at Queenstown on the 23rd, as denoted in the French cds. Here a stamp has been added to a stampless cover. The stamp may have previously been used on a genuine cover and substituted here with the new fake strike superimposed as indicated by the odd strike of the ‘E’ in Orleans and the ‘a’ of La, as well as the fuzzy nature of the letters on the adhesive compared with those on the cover.

Figure 9: This is an 1860 cover with a black U.S. MAIL /PACKET/NATCHEZ oval handstamp (K380), which is also known in blue in 1857. Here it is found in a rare form on a letter going transatlantic on the Cunarder Europa, departing Boston May 30th and arriving in Liverpool June 9th, with a red ’19’ U.S. credit to England for transit out of the 24 cent rate. The problem is that the right stamp has been removed and a plate 3 stamp substituted for a damamged plate 1 12 cent. Unfortunately for the forger, plate 3 was not available until June 1, 1860, the EKU as the two earlier 1859 ex-Moody covers are forgeries in that the plate 3 stamps did not originate, as well as this one with a forged black killer tying it. The left plate 1 stamp belongs.


Figure 10: This City Despatch cover is dated September 8, 1842 during the U.S. City Despatch period when the Greig adhesive, as here, needs an octagon ‘U.S.’ to validate it. A pen ‘R’ killer will not do it.