Many Faces of the Die 10 Forgeries

By Bill Lehr

© MAR, 2005; Die 10FGT1-2.3rb added SEP, 2010


Die 10 (Scott type U12) is the six cent bust of George Washington, star die, from the 1860 Nesbitt printings.  Die 10 is printed in red on white laid paper and in red on buff laid paper.  Reprints of Die 10 exist on vertically laid white and buff papers only.  A genuine Die 10 measures 20 X 24 mm. and exhibits six rayed stars.  Both of the stars appear to touch the inner frame line.  There is no dot of color in either star.  The bust of George Washington faces left.  Washington’s nose is rounded.  Washington’s forehead has a slight curve.  There is no discernable bow on the queue.  Back of the bust points at the “G” of ‘POSTAGE”.



62/U30               63/U31        

6¢ red on white           6¢ red on buff


Both U30 and U31 are scarce as entires and only slightly less scarce as cut squares.  Mint entires of U30 and U31 were featured in the Shreeves Philatelic Galleries sale of the Floyd collection, OCT 23-25, 2001.  The U30 entire sold for $ 4, 250.00 and the U31 sold for $ 4, 500.00.  A used U30 cut square with a corner fold and other faults sold for $ 600.00, NOV 15, 2003 as lot number 3304 in the Robert A. Siegel sale 869.  Mint, full corner cut squares of U30 and U31 were sold fro $2,000.00 and $ 3, 350.00 respectively in the Shreeves Philatelic Galleries sale of the Whitington collection, DEC 13, 2003.  The U30 had minor faults.  (Auction prices quoted above do not include any buyer’s premium).


There are two major types of Die 10 forgeries.  Type 1 depicts a bust of “George Washington” and six pointed stars.  Type 2 depicts a bust of Benjamin Franklin and five pointed stars.  Similarities in the busts depicted on Type 1 forgeries of Dies 9, 10, and 11 seem to indicate a common source for these forgeries.


Type 1 forgeries:


Common characteristics

Bust of “George Washington” has a grotesque head (long nose, heavy eyebrows).

Back of the head bulges as if swollen.

Neither star touches the inner oval.

Left star is close to the outer frame line.

Measures 21 X 26 mm. approximately.

Printed in red on wove paper.


There are two classes of Type 1 forgeries.  Class 1 features Washington with a short neck.  Class 2 features Washington with a long neck.


The Die 9FGT1 (3¢ Washington star die) features a head similar to the Die 10T1FG.  The Die 9FGT1 was attributed to Engelhardt Fohl of Dresden by the German philatelic publication Mitteldeutsche PhilatelistenZeitung in the JUL, 1900 issue.  Early literature suggests that a set of the 1860 Nesbitt star die type 1 forgeries was produced for sale to European collectors.



Die 10FGT1-1 (short neck)


Common characteristics of Die 10FGT1-1

The neck measures approximately 1 ½ mm. long.

There is no dot of color in either star.

There is a large bow around the queue.

Front of the bust exhibits an upward hook.

Back of the bust points at the “E” of “POSTAGE”


Sub varieties of the Die 10FGT1-1 can be differentiated by the shape of “Washington’s” nose.


 Die 10FGT1-1.1


Die 10FGT1-1.1    Hooked nose.  Observed on buff wove paper.



                           Die 10FGT1-1.2


Die 10FGT1-1.2    Big nose.  Observed on buff wove paper.



                                         Die 10FGT1-1.3


Die 10FGT1-1.3    Very big nose.  Observed on white and on buff wove paper.



                                        Die 10FGT1-1.4


Die 10FGT1-1.4    Very big hooked nose.  Observed on white and on buff wove paper.


Die 10FGT1-2 (long neck)


Common characteristics of Die 10FGT1-2

            The neck measures approximately 2 mm.

Front of the bust exhibits a minor upward hook.

Top rear of the head is concave.

Nose is arched.

            Base of the bust differs from the genuine.

The stars, especially the right star, often have a dot of color inside of the star(s).

Neither star touches the inner oval.

            Back of the bust points to the “E” of “POSTAGE”


Die 10FGT1-2.1  There is no dot of color in either star.  Not observed.  Number reserved.


Die 10FGT1-2.2  There is a dot of color in the right star only.  Not observed.  Number reserved.



                                      Die 10FGT1-2.3rw                          Die 10FGT1-2.3rb

                                    Early               Late


Die 10FGT1-2.3  There is a dot of color in both stars.  Observed on white; examined on buff.

                          What appear to be early (E) and late (L) states of this forgery are depicted.


Type 2 forgeries:


Common characteristics of the Die 10FGT2:

            Bust of Benjamin Franklin facing the wrong way (right).

            Bottom front of the bust points at the “G” of “POSTAGE”.

            Head is poorly embossed.

            Franklin has no lips.

Bottom of the bust is close to the inner frame line at both front and rear.

            Five pointed stars not touching either frame line; right star is inverted.

            “C” of “CENTS” is small.

            “G” of “POSTAGE” is almost closed.

            “TA” of “POSTAGE” extremely close at the bottom.

            Period after the “S” of “U.S.” looks like a comma.

            Frame lines are irregular, especially the inner frame line.

            Printed on wove paper.

            Known both with and without fake cancels.


George B. Sloane suggests, in the JUL 2, 1949 issue of Stamps, that the bust may be of Nero rather than of Franklin.


Only one class of the Die 10, Type 2 forgeries has been observed.


Die 10FGT2-1.1  Not observed.  Number reserved for printings in red.



                          Die 10FGT2-1.2


Die 10FGT2-1.2  Printed in dark red.  Observed on (amber) buff.



                                       Die 10FGT2-1.3


Die 10FGT2-1.3  Printed in magenta. Observed on white and on buff.




Nomenclature for Die 10 forgery identification follows this format:


Die #    F(or)G(ery)-Type-Class-Sub-variety   




Properly speaking, forgeries should be referenced to the genuine Die number.  Design, ink color and paper color may make it possible to ascribe Scott/UPSS catalog numbers to forgeries.  All Die 10 forgeries printed on white paper correspond to UPSS 62/ Scott U30.  All Die 10 forgeries printed on buff paper correspond to UPSS 63/ Scott U31.


Additional varieties or paper colors may be waiting to be discovered.  The author is interested in examining any additions to the forgeries presented above.




My thanks to collector Steve Dawson for the loan of his collection of U.S. postal stationery forgeries.




In addition to the usual catalogs, the following articles have been of assistance:


Bartels, JM

United States Envelopes - Series of 1860


Vol. 28, No. 4, Whole # 359, p 116


Collin, Henry and Calman, Henry L.

A Catalog for Advanced Collectors

American Journal of Philately

Second series, Vol. XII, JUN 1, 1899, pps 247-248


Dickinson, H.S.

Die Making and Notes on 1860 Second Nesbitt Issue              

American Philatelist  

Vol. 71, No. 6, pps 423-25


Envelope Counterfeits

(reprint from Stamp Journal, Dec. 1909)        

Weekly Philatelic Gossip       

XXV:  250       1937-38          


Haeseler, Rob

Cut Square Forgery Collection Helps Research

Linn's Stamp News     

Vol. 73, No. 3732, p 8 2


Hotchner, John M

Who Made Such Crude Fakes of Cut Squares?

Linn's Stamp News     

Vol. 74, No. 3779, p 6 2


Kinabrew, J.M., Jr.

Correspondence to Varro Tyler

Re:  German? Forgeries of the star dies.

JUN 8, 1977


1860 Types/Forgeries

Pat Paragraphs

No. 39, OCT 1939


Sloane, George B.

Forged U.S. Envelope Issues


JUL 2, 1949


Tyler, Varro E.

Focus On Forgeries # 337, Scott U26

Linn’s Stamp News, 2000


Undersander, Dan

Counterfeits of the Star Dies

Postal Stationery       

Vol. 42, No. 1, Whole # 310, pps 13-14         


Undersander, Dan

USA Envelopes:  Counterfeits of Star Dies II

Postal Stationery       

Vol. 43, No. 2, Whole # 317, pps 29-31         


Undersander, Dan & Starkey, Gary

USA Envelopes:  Reprints of the Nesbitt Issues

Postal Stationery       

Vol. 44, No. 1, Whole # 322, pps 4-6 


Youngblood, Wayne L

Fake Stamps Not Always What They Seem

Linn's Stamp News

Vol. 63, No. 3241, p 44