JOBI Philatelic Services: 

                        More Accidental Fakes!


Bill Lehr

UPSS # 5469




This article published in Postal Stationery, Vol. 45, No. 5, Whole # 331, p140


More Accidental Fakes,

and an Accidental Forgery, Too!


Fakes and forgeries are an unfortunate, but are a frequently fascinating aspect of collecting.  Strictly speaking, fakes are genuine items that are deliberately altered to increase their value.  Forgeries are items deliberately produced to defraud the collector.  But history shows that “deliberately can sometimes be replaced by “accidentally”.


Strange, but true, “accidental” fakes and forgeries of US postal stationery do exist.  At present these accidents seem to be limited to 20th century items.  The rediscovery of the accidental fake of the 15¢ revaluation of the 15¢ stylized Uncle Sam’s Hat (Scott U586b) envelope has been recently reported by this writer.  Here are a few more “accidents” that have come to my attention:



1907/1916 Mercantile Issues


Advertising has always been important. Early envelope contractors provided a wide selection of sizes and colors for the discerning postal patron.  Schedules, essentially posters, bearing either genuine samples or facsimiles of the embossed stamped envelopes were frequently provided to Post Offices to encourage sales.


The Mercantile Corporation, as the new envelope contractor, provided schedules to the Post Offices featuring full size lithographic reproductions (facsimiles) of each envelope size and denomination available.  These schedules were printed in color.  The dies and the colors used are identical to those of the genuine issued envelopes.  A number of these schedules were converted to “cut squares”.  The cut squares made from these schedules were heavily utilized by the packet makers.  Some of these cut squares have even been offered as proofs.  Cut squares made from these schedules are essentially “accidental” forgeries.  These forgeries can be identified by the lack of embossing of the stamp.  The forgeries otherwise match the genuine stamps in all respects.


Newspaper Wrappers


Newspaper wrappers are occasionally confused with letter sheets.  But newspaper wrappers masquerading as window envelopes?  Newspaper wrappers with window cutouts, but no glassine inserts, are known.  These accidental fake “windowed” wrappers were privately created by a small newspaper firm operating in New Jersey.  The wrappers were legitimately used for the mailing of their newspapers.  The wrapper protected the newspaper and provided the postage; the window allowed a preprinted address on the newspaper to be viewed through the wrapper.


3543/U554, 6¢ Moby Dick, die 193


The 6¢ blue Herman Melville-Moby Dick stamp envelope was printed only on plain-front small size (POD # 6 ¾) envelopes.  Large size (POD # 10) envelopes have been observed bearing an image of this stamp.  The stamp images were actual cut outs of the stamp imprint taken from the genuine small size envelopes.  These accidental fakes were created by an enterprising secretary who decided to salvage the postage from four of the genuine Moby Dick embossed-stamped envelopes (believed to have been rendered useless due to typing errors).





These items illustrate three types of accidental fake and one incident of accidental forgery.  Perhaps there are more of these “accidents” awaiting disclosure.




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