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25 MAR 2000 -- There are in existence a great many reprints, counterfeits, facsimiles and outright fake and bogus issues of the Confederate Stamps. To attempt to illustrate and explain them all would take a book in itself. I will attempt in this section to illustrate and describe some of the more commonly seen fake Confederate issues. This page is currently under construction. I will probably be working on it off and on for quite some time as I obtain more of the fake material to use as illustrations. If there is anything specific you would like to see listed and explained here, send me an E-mail and let me know. (JLKCSA@aol.com) I hope the collectors will find this section to be useful.
We begin our discussion with the Springfield Facsimiles as these are the fakes that are most commonly seen. Here is the story behind these fakes: Beginning in the mid 1930's a set of 14 counterfeits of the Confederate General Issue stamps was made and sold by a stamp dealer in Springfield, Mass. These facsimiles were also used in the so-called TASCO Booklets prepared in 1941. TASCO stands for Tatham Stamp Company of Springfield, Mass. In order to make the counterfeits, a set of original drawings made by August Dietz in 1919 were used. The drawings were copyrighted, and the use of these drawings was done without the permission of August Dietz. These counterfeits were made and sold as singles or as blocks of four in either unused or used condition. Since they originated in Springfield, Mass they have come to be known to collectors as the "Springfield Facsimiles." Protests over these fakes were issued at the time, and the maker then agreed to stop selling the bogus used ones and to put the word "facsimile" (sometimes misspelled as "facsimilie") on the backs of the unused stamps. But a number had already been sold, so these fakes exist both with and without the word "facsimile" on the back. And there are still some "Springfield Facsimiles" floating around with phony postmarks, and some have even been used to create phony covers. These fakes are everywhere and still fool many of the uninformed collectors today. The 14 Springfield Facsimiles are illustrated below.
The Springfield Facsimiles were all printed on paper that was far different from the paper used for the genuine stamps. Many of the facsimiles were printed on a bleached white paper while others were printed on a yellowish newsprint type paper. Being familiar with the papers is the best way to tell the difference between these facsimiles and the genuine stamps. On the fakes that are not marked "Facsimile" on the back, here is how to distinguish them from the real thing --
The private printing reprints (proofs) from the 2c and 10c Altered Plates of the CSA #6 and CSA #14 stamps are also extremely common. These Altered Plate printings are not genuine CSA stamps but were instead printed privately over the years from the plates and portions of the plates which are still in existence. The story of the Altered Plates is somewhat complex and has been covered already in the "Question and Answer" section of this website. CLICK HERE to review the story behind the Altered Plates and to see some examples.
Another very common counterfeit which is found frequently in collections and in dealer's stock is the New York Counterfeit of the CSA #6 stamp. This stamp is very commonly mistaken for the real stamp by collectors and dealers alike. To fully understand the story behind the New York Counterfeits one must first be aware of the story behind the Altered Plates as the two are tied together. If you have not already reviewed the Altered Plates story above, then please do so now as it will help you to understand these counterfeits.
These counterfeits were made in the 19th Century not long after the end of the war with the apparent express purpose of deceiving collectors. They were made in New York City, hence the name "New York Counterfeit." Someone apparently got their hands on a flawless section of the 5c to 10c Altered Plate that had recently been broken up. A print was made from this section and the value tablet was redrawn back to the original "FIVE CENTS." Apparently some sort of a photographic technique with which I am not familiar was used to combine the print with the redrawn value tablet and used to construct a new printing plate of 100 subjects. A large quantity of these counterfeits were then printed.
But these counterfeiters made some mistakes. The counterfeits are actually very easy to tell from the originals. But you have to be aware of their existence and also know what to look for. The counterfeits have a somewhat flat appearance with a very distinctive blue-green color. The original CSA #6 stamps were never printed in a blue-green color but are all a uniform blue or light blue color. There is a somewhat cloudy appearance to the design of the counterfeit and a sleepy look to the portrait with nearly closed eyes. Also, the hair of the portrait appears mostly solid while the original has distinct lines in the hair. But the easiest to see characteristic other than the sickly blue-green color is the mistake that was made in redoing the value tablet. The crossbars of the "F" and the "E" of "FIVE" are distinctly shorter than the originals. Beware the New York Counterfeits as they have no significant value except as a reference item.
The Birmingham Counterfeit of the 2c value CSA #3 illustrated below is rarely seen. The Birmingham Counterfeit of the CSA #3 can be distinguished from the original by a rich yellow-green color, a well formed nose (much better than the original), the absence of all three periods after "C. S. A." and the absence of some small ornamentation at the top center. Birmngham #3 illustration courtesy of Peter Powell of Richmond, Va.
The famous French forger, Jean de Sperati, counterfeited two of the Confederate stamps -- the 10c rose CSA #5 and the 10c (T-E-N) CSA #9. His reproductions, especially of the CSA #9, are of excellent quality. Almost all of them are signed on the back with the Sperati signature, but there are still a number of the Sperati forgeries that are unsigned. Illustrated below is the Sperati CSA #9 Forgery. There are a number of minor distinguishing marks, but the most prominent is the fact that the "T" and "E" of "TEN" are joined at the top in the forgery and are distinctly separate in the original. The other prominent mark in the forgery is the presence of a white dot just to the right of the "E" of "POSTAGE" at the top. There is no white dot in the original. Otherwise, the forgery is almost indistinguishable from the genuine.
The Sperati CSA #5 Forgery is rare in its own right. The CSA #5 forgery is not as well done as the CSA #9 forgery as there are quite a number of differences between the Sperati #5 and the Genuine #5. In the illustration below, I have pointed out the four most prominent and easy to see characteristics found on the Sperati #5 Forgery. The Sperati #5 illustration is courtesy of Peter Powell of Richmond, Va.
Sperati was also known to have forged certain postmarks. Most of these forged postmarks are found on his own reproduction stamps, but some are also found on genuine CSA stamps. The most famous is a New York City PAID 12 ship marking on a CSA #8 stamp illustrated to the left. Other postmarks that he was known to have forged are Charleston SC; Chattanooga, Tenn (Aug 8, 1863); Cincinnati, O; New Orleans, La / 2 (partial strike); and Richmond, Va (July 9, 1863 and May 10, 1865). Sperati Reproductions are very collectible items in their own right. For example, the Sperati CSA #9 sells for almost as much as the genuine stamp. But the Sperati fake cancels on the contrary have only a nominal value of a few dollars.
There are in existence numerous deceptive labels which have the look of genuine Confederate issues but are in reality entirely bogus. These items are very deceptive to the average collector as many of them were made many years ago and very often turn up in older collections. They are interesting in their own right, but are not rare and are not particularly valuable. Do not be taken in by the fantasies. I have put together a page illustrating and explaining some of the more commonly seen fantasies. Click the link below to view the fantasies and use the back button to return to this page.
We now come to my last planned section on the subject of Fake and Phony Confederate Stamps -- the Fake (Reprint and Reproduction) Confederate Provisional Stamps. Provisional stamps were printed by postmasters in various cities and towns with the full permission of the Confederate Government to use until CSA General Issue stamps became available. There are quite a number of different CSA genuine provisional stamps, and many of them are quite rare. They were in use only locally during the latter months of 1861 and the very early months of 1862. We have CSA provisional stamps from such cities as New Orleans, Memphis, Mobile, Nashville, Charleston, Knoxville to name but a few. Refer to the new 2000 Scott USA Specialized Catalog for a full listing of these provisional stamps.
Album makers in the late 19th Century illustrated these provisional stamps in their albums. But many were so rare that the collectors of the day could not obtain them. Scott, Taylor, Upham and others therefore reproduced (copied) all these rare provisionals by the thousand just so the collectors would have something to put into their albums. (Yes it was the same Scott whose name is on the catalog). Consequently, these reproduction fakes (often referred to incorrectly as reprints when they are actually counterfeits or forgeries) were mostly done in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and always show up in older collections. The fake provisionals are distinguished from the fantasies discussed above in that these fake provisionals are actually copies of real genuine stamps whereas the fantasies never existed as a genuine stamp. In some cases actual reprints of the provisional stamps (later private printings from the same plates as the originals) also exist.
Make no mistake, these fake reproduction provisionals are essentially worthless labels. They have only a token monetary value as a reference item. But many of these fakes are so good that the uninformed collector can easily mistake them for the real thing. The problem was compounded by album makers and catalog publishers because many of the illustrations used in some albums and catalogs are of the reproductions and not the genuine stamps. I am in the process of putting together a demonstration page of the more commonly seen CSA Provisionals with details on how to tell the fakes from the genuine ones. Fake ones turn up all the time on E-Bay Auctions and in dealers' stocks misidentified as genuine. In this area, it is truly a "Buyer Beware" market. Be very careful with the CSA Provisional Stamps. Click the link below to view the Fake Provisional Page and use the back button to return to this page. The Fake CSA Provisionals page has multiple images, so it may take a minute or two to load.
This discussion on the fake and phony CSA issues is in no way complete, nor was it meant to be. What has been shown and described are the items which the average general collector is more likely to encounter. If I have missed any items that you would like to see discussed or if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to send me an E-mail. I hope that this demonstration has been of some value.