The discovery of this counterfeit was announced in Linn’s Stamp News, Vol. 75, # 3831, APR 1, 2002.

An extract of this article appeared in Postal Stationery, Journal of the United Postal Stationery Society, Vol. 44, #3, MAY-JUN 2002


Counterfeit Entire of the 1860 1-cent blue, Franklin, star die, period after postage

Bill Lehr, APS# 165352, UPSS # 5469

Copyright:  December 20, 2006




We are all aware of the star die forgeries (second Nesbitt printings, 1860).  Almost all of the literature agrees that these forgeries are only known to exist as cut squares.




The one dissenting opinion is found in The American Journal of Philately, Second Series, Vol. XII,  Henry L. Calman, editor, published by the Scott Stamp & Coin Co., Ltd., New York, 1899.  Henry Collin and Henry L. Calman describe counterfeits of the 1860-61 issue in the article “A Catalogue for Advanced Collectors of Postage Stamps, Stamped Envelopes and Wrappers.”  They provide this warning on pages 247-248:


 “There is a dangerous counterfeit of the 1-cent of this issue which is sometimes found on entire envelopes.  The paper is laid but not watermarked.  This counterfeit may be recognized by the stars at each side of the oval which have six points instead of five.”




The discovery of a forged entire of the 1860 Nesbitt 1c blue Franklin star die, UPSS die type 12, Scott type U9.  This forgery is printed and embossed on diagonally laid paper without watermark.


Ken Lawrence, philatelic writer and US specialist:

It's a wonderful discovery.”       


Rob Haeseler, Linn’s senior editor:

“…a very significant discovery.  It appears to be the only known fake U.S 19th century entire.” 




DATELINE January 2001: I was viewing auction lots on eBay.  I inspected a lot that was offered as a genuine Scott# U19 mint entire.  The stamp imprinted was obviously not genuine.  Deciding that this was an interesting piece worth further study, I placed my bid and waited.  Competition was light and I was the successful bidder.




The stamp is an obvious forgery (the stars have six points instead of five) of UPSS die type 12.  The paper appears to be either manila or buff.  Comparison of the forgery to several genuine entires and wrappers of this issue (courtesy of Rob Haeseler) provides no paper match (but, then, the genuine samples did not match each other, either).  Both the buff and the manila papers used for these issues are known to exist in an immense variety of shades and qualities of papers.  Genuine entires are known on salmon, creamy buff, fawn, yellowish-buff, amber buff and numerous shades of each.  Louis G. Barrett, in his article U.S. Stamped Envelopes, 1853-1913, Handbook Number 5 (second edition), published by Severn-Wylie-Jewett Co., Portland, ME. tells us on page 5:  “The range of shades in the buff paper was more extensive even than in the first issue, running here into orange.  Manila paper was used for the first time, for the wrappers.”


The paper of the genuine issues typically exhibits cross-lines from 25 to 30 mm apart.  The cross-lines on this forgery measure 25 mm apart and are angled at 34 degrees from the bottom fold.  The lesser laid lines are spaced 1.5 mm apart.



Text Box: Figure 1:  Front view of the forgery


A scan of the front is shown in Figure 1.  Front faults include pencil notations at UL (5 and ?) and at LL (U19 and i or j. gale.); a small spot of foxing occurs near the stamp impression; there is minor creasing at LL.  There is typical minor soiling along the top fold. Minor tears (both under 3mm in length) occur at each end of the top fold.









Text Box: Figure 2:  Close-up of the forged stamp imprint

A close-up of the stamp impression is shown in Figure 2.  There are nine recognized die varieties of the genuine stamp.  Five of the nine varieties exhibit the common characteristic of the bust pointing between the “A” and the “G” of “POSTAGE”.  This forgery shares that characteristic. 


The genuine stamp measures 20 by 24 mm.  This forgery measures 21 by 25 mm.


Two types of die 12 forgeries are recognized.  The type 2 forgery, which exhibits poorly done five pointed stars, does not concern us here.  


Type 1 forgeries of UPSS die 12 are described as follows: printed and embossed on white or on buff wove paper instead of on diagonally laid paper; stars in the borders have six points instead of the five points for the genuine; the upper lip of Franklin does not protrude on the genuine, and the tip of the nose is rounded on the genuine; the serif at the base of the “T” of “CENT” extends further to the left than to the right on the forgery.  The lettering is thicker and more uniform in the genuine.  Designs matching the genuine design but printed on buff, manila or orange vertically or horizontally laid paper are from wrappers.   


This stamp imprint matches the description of the type 1 forgery (except perhaps for the upper lip).  Additionally we see:  the “O” of “ONE” is low and close to the inner frame line; the “C” of “CENT” is short and far from the inner frame line; the “O” of “ONE”, the “C” of “CENT”, the “U” of “U.S.”, the “O” and the “G” of “POSTAGE” are narrow and oval in shape; top strokes of the “E” of “ONE” and of the “E” of “CENT” are heavier than the bottom stroke; the “S” of “U.S.” and the “S” of “POSTAGE” are narrow; spacing of the “O” to “S” and of the “T” to “A” of “POSTAGE” is wide.  Regardless of the details, the six pointed stars are the most obvious trait of this forgery.






Figure 3:  Reverse of the forgery


The reverse is shown in Figure 3.  What appears to be adhesive bleed from assembly is apparent along the join of the left side flap.  Overall size of this entire is 82mm high by 150mm wide.  This matches the height of a UPSS size 7 but the width of a UPSS size 8 entire.  The top flap is 50mm high and is distinctly tongue shaped.  Gum appears to have been applied by hand as on the genuine. The entire is low-backed with both side flaps over the bottom flap.  The side flaps do not meet, have distinctly rounded points and are somewhat triangular overall.  Genuine entires of this series all show the side flaps overlapping.  The bottom flap has a wide, curved point.  The knife does not match any knife depicted in Bartels U.S. Stamped Envelopes, fifth edition, Volume II, Prescott H. Thorp, Netcong, N.J., 1943 nor in Cutting Knifes of the 19th & 20th Century Envelopes and Wrappers of the United States of America, Actual Size Illustrations, published by the United Postal Stationery Society, Thousand Oaks, CA, 1999.  The smoothness of all edges tends to indicate that this envelope was die-cut rather than skillfully hand made. 



Could this forgery actually be a counterfeit created to defraud the United States Post Office?


It is mistakenly believed that these entires were included in the demonetization of the pre-Civil War stamp issues.  There has been speculation that forgeries of entires may have been created to defraud the U.S. Post Office Department during the exchange of demonetized stamps and stamped envelopes for the new issues.  Demonetized and exchanged or illegally used, either way the USPOD would have lost some revenue.  If any Postally used copies of this forgery exist, they would support this supposition.

However, we learn in the Thorp-Bartels Catalogue of the Stamped Envelopes and Wrappers of the United States, Prescott Holden Thorp, editor and publisher, Netcong, N.J., 1954, on page 29:  “The -cent envelopes and wrappers were continued in use and manufactured until 1870 when George H. Reay was awarded the contract.”  The Confederate States did demonetize this issue in 1861.  The Catalog of the 19th Century Stamped Envelopes and Wrappers of the United States, second edition, Allen Mintz, editor, United Postal Stationery Society, Norfolk, VA 2001, page 8) tells us that both the 1-cent and the 3-cent combination dies of the Second Series (the Nesbitt 1860 printings), were continued in use until the rate change of 1863.   The 1-cent envelope being limited to intracity mail and to circulars was not a concern for misuse.  


At this date it is speculated that this is the only counterfeit entire of the 1-cent blue star die known to exist.  It is further speculated that it is the only counterfeit entire of any 19th Century issue known to exist.  Hopefully, this discovery will prompt other collectors and hobbyists to reexamine their own collections.




A similar but genuine entire, UPSS die 12 type 8, printed on un-watermarked, diagonally laid buff paper, size 8, is listed as UPSS # 30a-0 with a 2001 catalog value of $1,000.00.




July, 2002:  A second, mint, copy of the counterfeit has been reported by a collector in Minnesota.   Examination of a color photocopy of this second discovery copy shows identical characteristics to the original counterfeit discovery copy.  The second copy exhibits a pencil notation at lower left and one mount (mark?) on the back.




Ken Lawrence for his article in the American Philatelist that alerted me about this forgery and for his assistance in referring this item to the attention of Rob Haeseler.


Rob Haeseler for sharing his expertise on U.S. postal stationery and his research on this forgery.


Dan Undersander for his scholarship and articles on the Nesbitt printings and their forgeries.


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