Monday 20 June 2016

Now, why would anybody forge a £1 stamp?

If you've studied Machins closely it's more than likely that you have seen a forgery at some time, whether it was the old 24p brown with it's jumbo perforations or one of the new 'security' stamps with pointy perforation teeth.  I've shown a few here before.

This week I was shown a booklet of 1st x 12 red with interesting non-phosphor bands (you'll recall that imitation bands are simply some sort of varnish).  This booklet had a selection of oddities: no 'phosphor', side-band right, interrupted band (with a 1mm vertical gap), similar 1.5mm vertical band only, ending (if I recall correctly) with another non-phosphor at the right.  I suspect it was accidental: I can't imagine that the forgers (who are producing these for postal use) would deliberately create a selection of errors that a collector might spot and highlight - that would only draw attention to the forgery when the lack of any phosphor was noticed, let alone any other give-away features.

But how about this one, bought by a reader on eBay, along with some other on-paper oddities from kiloware?

It doesn't look 'right', does it - similar to some of the 2nd class forgeries it has a halo effect round the royal portrait.  Enhancing the image does reveal some of the iridescent printing, but the real give-away is the oblique picture that our contributor managed to take (these aren't easy!):

Here, you can clearly see the M14L at the left, and MTIL at the right.    Which means the forger used the same iridescent plate as for other products.

But the real question is why they bothered with a £1 stamp at all.   Most users won't know that the coding (if they realise it is there at all) means that this should be a booklet stamp, but how are the stamps distributed?  One of the main outlets for all stamps is corner shops, small shopkeepers selling 1st & 2nd class stamps either in books or cut out and sold singly.  eBay is another outlet - I saw 20 forged books of 12 (£153.60) sold for £100 (ebay item 152119322249 while it's still visible). 

So where do you outlet stamps which aren't used for basic postage rates, and for which no actual postage rates exist?  The £1 is a make-up stamp now. 

Has anybody else seen forgeries other than 1st & 2nd class?


  1. Why forge a £1? Would have been postcard to Europe last year - so sold in corner shops in tourist areas?

    What I'm wondering is how many have to be sold on to cover the set up costs of printing a batch plus the cut for everyone in the chain? Higher values would be more profit per stamp but less demand - especially as APLs have become more common - so airmail values might be the way to go.

  2. How can you tell the booklets are forged?

    1. Look at the link provided in para 1. None of the booklets has any phosphor reaction, although all have 'pretend' phosphor bands.

      On many the perforations are clearly wrong. The more recent red ones are much better, though still without phosphor.

      See also Machin Mania >

      .. which has a link to Mack Strathdee in Canada who is, unfortunately, very cryptic in his descriptions, which isn't helpful (you have to look very closely at the captions to see 'genuine' on some). But he does provide some good images, one of which on the 2nd class is very similar to the head on this £1. Not all his pictures are of forgeries, some are just positional shifts of the iridescent ink.

  3. Re the £1 value, very interesting and unusual. Thanks for pointing this out. I looked at the 20 x booklets for sale on eBay myself it did not cross my mind that they were forgeries. Clearly the seller did not mention it.

    To sell at £105.00 (a loss of approx £47.00 on face) I presume he (and the buyer) did not know.

    As single forgeries or as complete booklets the seller would have to state not to be used for postage.

    Sold this way these would also have made a tidy profit.

  4. It is funny really, i reported Ebay listings that sell forgeries to Moya Green via internal communication plus locally at Mount Pleasant Revenue protection, except for a generic reply no responce from them.
    I cannot believe no one is responding more directly to this problem by prooving they are forgeries then removing them from Ebay.

  5. I don't know about forged £1 stamps but there are a lot of forged £1 coins in circulation. Some are so obvious. However, the last one I got in my change, I handed back and she put it back in the till.

  6. Ian, It would be great to see an image of the "booklet of 1st x 12 red with interesting non-phosphor bands". I have described and illustrated most modern forgeries in the Modern British Philatelic Circle Journal, there should be plenty there to assist in the identification of the different types.
    Gerard Small.

    1. Hi Gerard,

      I don't think there is any way I can scan it or photograph it to show all the varities in one! I'll ask the Norwich owner, who you probably know, to show you some time.



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