Saturday, August 18, 2018

1933 Falkland Islands and forgeries

Stamps of the Falkland Islands have been popular for long time.  The islands are remote, but still part of the once mighty British Empire, which has always been popular with collectors.  The permanent British occupation of the Falklands began in 1833, an anniversary which would have been largely forgotten to history but for the issuance of the 1933 set of Falklands commemorative stamps to mark the occasion.

The stamps were well-designed, based on the work of amateur photographer George Roberts and printed by the London firm of Bradbury Wilkinson.  Each had a black center image set in a colored frame.  In 1933 this required two runs through the printing press, and so was a more expensive type of stamp to produce than single color.  (There is a rarer variety with a more orange-yellow frame.)

All the designs are well done, but the best is the 5 shilling, (Scott 74; SG 136) with a yellow frame  around a vertical image of a king penguin.  (Aptenodytes patagonicus).  

Attrib: Stanley Gibbons (Genuine stamp)              
Fewer than 6,000 stamps were actually issued,  and with Falklands being popular among stamp collectors, the price can be high. 

Used copies are worth more than mint, because the used stamp must make the journey from London to the other side of the earth and in 1933, that was by steamship, and even sailing vessels were still in service at the time.

I saw a mint copy on sale for $1,100 recently on eBay, and based on what I can tell, that would be a reasonable price to pay for the stamp ... assuming it is genuine.

Attrib: ??? (Forgery)                        
With such high prices, forgers will be attracted to the issue, and the 1933 is by no means immune.   Stamp forgery has been going on for about as long as there have been stamps, sometimes to fool the post office, but more often now to deceive collectors. 

In 2002 the so-called Maryland Forgeries of various classic stamps started showing up.  The stamp at left is a Maryland forgery, from an Ebay listing.  

The Ebay seller was doing nothing wrong.  The stamp was clearly identified as a forgery and it's perfectly legal to sell it with that important disclosure. Some people even collect forgeries.

It's hard to tell forgeries based on electronic scans alone.  Color is not a good guide in this instance, as there was an orange-yellow genuine stamp.  The forgery looks wrong; it is not well-centered between the perforations and the paper looks much too white.

Physical inspection of the actual stamp in question would readily reveal the forgery.  Stamps printed from engravings will leave small raised lines of ink above the paper, which is very difficult to forge.

The paper used for the 1933 issue was watermarked, in this case with multiple crowns and the initials CA, for Crown Agents.  While clever forgers have been able to overcome these two obstacles, most will not.

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