Confederate States of America
Postal History
Fakes, Phonies, Forgeries

Postmark Incompatible with CSA Usage

The above cover contains a genuine CSA #12 Stamp (Keating and Ball Printing) tied by a Bedford, Va postmark dated 1 MAR. The usage is quite compatible with the KB printing for a 1 MAR 1865 usage. The surface appearance of this cover, therefore, is that of a very nice and very desireable late usage CSA cover from Bedford, Va. There is only one problem with the cover -- there was no such place as Bedford, Va during the Civil War. The county seat (Court House) of Bedford County, Va was named Liberty, Va. It was not until the 1890's that Liberty, Va changed its name to Bedford, Va. The Confederate Stamp Alliance Authentication Committee has labled this cover a fake for the reason that Bedford, Va did not exist during the CSA period. CSA Certificate #3903 states "the stamp did not originate on this cover."

That is probably true because of the history of Bedford, but I have examined this cover every which way possible and cannot explain or imagine how the cover was faked as the postmark is complete and very period looking with a date compatible with the usage of the stamp and what appears to be a period address. The only explanation I can think of is that the entire postmark must be a fake with the stamp added to a handcarried cover. It is extremely well done if it really is a fake. That would then beg the question of why are there not additional similar covers as this is the only Bedford, Va CSA cover I and quite a number of other CSA collectors can remember seeing. Why would someone go to all the trouble of constructing an excellent period postmark and then fake only one cover? Also, postmark fakers besides tending to make multiple covers also tend to make sure that the strikes are excellent. This cover has a somewhat poor strike. This cover presents an enigma that may never be solved.

There is one possible theory which occurs to me which I feel is quite plausible but I cannot prove it. Perhaps in early 1865, the people of Liberty, Va decided to change the name to Bedford to coincide with the county name going so far as to construct a new CSA Bedford postmark to replace the Liberty postmark. The Bedford postmark would then have been used for only a very short period of time as the war soon ended and the name change was therefore not formally recorded in time with the CSA Postal Service. With the end of the war in April 1865, the post offices then reverted back to the USA Postal Service. At that time, the name change may then have been dropped because of the change over or perhaps disallowed by the USA Postal Service so as not to complicate the change over process not to resurface again until the 1890's. This is to me plausible because the postmark on this cover has the distinct appearance and construction of a CSA period postmark and is not compatible with the postmarks used in the 1890's or later. The only way to prove this would be to dig into the archives in Washington DC and in Bedford County, Va to try to find a reference to a proposed or actual name change in early 1865. It would also help if some other possible CSA Bedford, Va covers came to light.

If anyone has what appears to be a Bedford, Va cover during the CSA period or later in the 19th century, I would very much like to know about it.

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