Stamp forgeries


The first stamp forgeries existed before people began collecting stamps. They were initially used to avoid paying postage. Today, forgeries can be a blessing and a curse for the collector.


At the expense of the post office

In addition to postal forgeries, there are other types: War mail and propaganda forgeries and forgeries to the detriment of collectors

War mail and propaganda forgeries are produced during wartime to harm the enemy.

War mail forgeries are exact imitations of enemy stamps, most often used to mail propaganda material.

Propaganda forgeries are forgeries of enemy stamps in which the image or text has been altered for propaganda purposes. For example, the inscription on the 12 Pfennig stamp was changed by the Americans from "Deutsches Reich" to "Futsches Reich" (Gone Reich). Such forgeries are especially common on World War II-era stamps and are of great interest to German collectors.

Forgeries of postage stamps proved quite lucrative in the past compared to today's high postage rates and the greater importance of the cover, and are mostly found on stamps before 1900.

Postal forgeries belong in an advanced collection and are usually more valuable than limited-edition stamps. Specially named forgeries such as the Dresden Postal Forgery (1896) of the 10 Pfennig crown/eagle or the Höchster Postal Forgery (1889) of the same stamp can easily fetch four-figure sums, while the originals are not worth much.


At the expense of the collector

Forgeries to the detriment of collectors can be divided into two groups:

Total forgeries are imitations of the complete stamp. They date mostlyfrombefore 1900 and are primitive forgeries that even a layperson can recognise. Later, however, better forgeries were produced that can only be recognised by experts.

Partial forgeries are genuine stamps with certain parts altered or falsified. The most common types of partial forgeries include the following:

Forgery of cancellation

Some stamps have a short period of use and many end up on the market after they expire. Cancelled stamps from the same issue, therefore, can be more rare. Forged cancellation marks are sometimes used in an attempt to increase the value of the original stamp.

Overprint forgery

An overprint is an official imprint of text on postage stamps to change the value or currency unit.

The intended use can also be changed, e.g. a postage stamp becomes an official stamp, or the country name can be changed, e.g. "German Reich" to "Austria".

Such changes can be reproduced by forgers, and the stamps they produce are at the expense of the post office and the collector.


Rare printing errors on official stamps, such as defects or upside-down or duplicated imprints, can be traded at high prices. An example is the overprint issue that appeared in Saarland in November 1947, which had to be printed because of a currency change from marks and pfennigs to centimes and francs. Some sheets were run through the press twice, resulting in a double overprint.

Forgers sometimes take advantage of these errors to produce rare stamps, the value of which can be huge.

Recognize forgeries

Other possible forgeries

There are other errors that forgers pick up on and reproduce. These include:

  • Changes in perforation: Some forged stamps differ from the originals only in the type of perforation.
  • Forgeries of color: Forgers use chemicals to create stamps with rare colours.
  • Removal of pen strokes:In the early days, not all stamps were canceled with stamps; some were struck through in pen. However, unused stamps are usually worth more than canceled stamps. Forgers, therefore, remove the ink.
  • Forgeries from proofs: Old US stamps are particularly affected by this type of forgery. From the cheap, mass-produced proofs, the cardboard-like paper is scraped very thinly to produce authentic-looking stamps. The reverse is then gummed and the stamp is perforated.
  • Changing the watermark: Genuine watermarks are used specifically to protect against forgery. However, some forgers have succeeded in imitating watermarks using kerosene.
Recognize forgeries

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