So You Want To Collect Stamps, Do You?
Here is the bottom line. If you are going to spend "big money" for a stamp make sure you get an expert or a professional service who examines the stamp in person.
We live a world that forgeries and fakes are rampant. It has become so popular that even first day postmark forgeries exist in abundance. They are so good nowadays depending on the artist that some are even created that never really existed in the stamp world.
Here are some examples;
Skilled forgers produce varieties splitting the paper on two stamps, using the front half of the desirable item and the back half of a cheap stamp. They glue it upside down. One key to notice is the stamp seems thicker than normal.
Another common forgery is false or enhanced overprinting. The overprint can be light but a skilled artist then fills it in. Some are easy to spot while others look so close to the original one can barely detect a difference.
Examples of forged stamps are the 1889-92 kopeck, 7 kopeck and 3.50 ruble, the June 30, 1997, "Morrison Hong Kong" and the July 1 1997 "St Andrews Fair".
Fake stamps have been around since 1861.
To do your due diligence and determine whether a stamp is faked or forged here are some guidelines.
Any stamp that has been changed is a fake or a forgery. It can be called many things so look for "repaired", "skillfully restored", "improved", "lightly corrected", but no matter the variety of words the stamp is no longer in the original condition and therefore buyer beware.
Again to reiterate, methods of "repair" have just improved and are often sold as in perfect condition. Flaws have been removed and offered as "flawless". There are so many alterations that even auction descriptions may state the nature of the repair.
Make sure you physically examine the item in order to see any regumming, covering of thin spots or an enclosed tear.
Check previous auction catalogs. In 1980 a block of 4 5 cent stamps of the first issue of the Netherlands was offered for sale with an abrasion between the bottom 2 stamps. The same stamp was then offered for sale in 1982 with an ink spot between the two stamps. In 1992 an auction offered this same block of stamps as a "very fine block" without any ink spot or abrasion.
The International Association of Philatelic Experts is the fancy name for the people who decide what is and isn’t a forgery.
According to them here are 4 areas of falsification:
Faked stamp - a genuine stamp that has been altered. Simplest way is by removing the perforations and claiming it never had perforations.
Faked cover - a genuine cover has been altered by having postal markings altered or removed. Simplest example is altering the postal cancellation to show earlier or later use.
Forged stamp - a fraudulent imitation of a genuine stamp. They are produced to deceive the collector and/or postal authorities usually accomplished by reprinting.
Facsimile stamp - these stamps are labeled as stated or called "cinderellas" or "labels" and many artists come up with their own name and thousands are created.
Buyer beware… even certificates for stamps are now being forged!If you are collecting Scandinavia consider reading how to detect fluorescence, phosphorescence and Scandinavian philately.