Repairs – forger or plastic surgeon?

Sometimes stamps or covers and postcards are damaged. Stamps can get tears, lose dents or even larger parts of their paper. Often parts of the gum are missing, disturbed or even all gum is lost. Postcards (also covers etc.) often find themselves with stamps detached when collectors decided they wanted to collect just the stamp. This was quite common at the beginning times of stamp collecting.

There are people who want to remedy this situation. Some just want to have a nice looking stamp in their album. Others want to obtain higher prices when selling a nice postcard.

Either way, it is important to check the items you buy. Here are two examples. A stamp I bought myself on Delcampe. The scan of the dealer was so bad, the repair was not visible. Confronted with a good scan, the dealer refunded the full price. The other example is a postcard where a fellow collector provided me with the scans.

Here is the stamp.


A very nice example of the 10r type 2 overprint – the so-called emergency “sub-issue” – completed with a small HH monogram. You can see a part of the cancel frame of the handstamp on the upper left corner of the stamp. The backside got a hinge remainder as well as some pencil drawings. The overprint is genuine.

At some point the stamp lost a larger part of the lower right corner. At the front side a part of another stamp was applied on top. At the backside the repair was concealed by a hinge fragment completely glued to the stamp. This is a rather crude repair and if you check the stamp carefully quite obvious. Since the market value of uncertified single stamps is not so high, I guess this was a beauty operation of a collector. Definitely not professional work.

And the postcard.

The postcard shows a 30 Kop overprint combined with a large framed Z. A 50 Kopeck stamp with a lilac large framed Z is added. There is an Aleksandropol cancel – serial character probably “sh” – and two Erivan d cancels. The dates are 16. or 26.3.1920 for the Aleksandropol cancel and 24.3.1920 for the Erivan cancel. Furthermore the following points are remarkable:

  1. Some kind of cancel or text was there and someone tried to remove it. Reminds me a bit of the war censor markings but this makes no sense at 1920.
  2. The first line reads “Aleksandropol” and this is the destination of the card. This suggests the date on the Aleksandropol should be later then 24.3.
  3. Some script: 700 and 2940?
  4. A very wrong looking “20” – shape and ink vary in comparison to the cancel on the postcard

I have marked the two most striking faults.

  1. The inner circle does not close – there is a gap. (See Arrow)
  2. The two marked “2” digits look totally different (Circles)


The two Erivan cancels on the postcard suggest that there was a stamp on the postcard. The tariff was 50 Kopecks at this time – so it was most likely a 20 Kopeck stamp. This stamp was lost and the forger added a new stamp. The missing part of the Erivan cancel was then artificially added to the stamp. It is possible that a part of the Erivan cancel was already on the stamp and only the date (“20”) was added. This would explain why the forger used the 50 Kopeck stamp which is too much than what was needed at this time. The item looks not philatelically inspired – there is a lot of text on the backside.

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2 Responses to Repairs – forger or plastic surgeon?

  1. Rafael says:

    Stefan, you made quite an interesting study on the postcard. A few comments:

    1. The text in the upper part of the card is irrelevant, it could be a seal of the archievs or similar. Some separate letters could be distinguished but not much. Probably the enlarged scan could give an answer.
    2. Figures 700 and 2940 are also irrelevant.
    3. Most important comment – the dates. You wrote that the card was received in Alexandropol on 16 or 26.03.1920 (script letter “zhe” by the way not “sh”). The date looks like ’16’ which could not be the case (the dispatch from Erivan was on the 24.3.1920). The delivery from Erivan to Alexandropol took 1 max 2 days, so if we could see the substantial enlargement of Alexandropol receipt date, it should be only “26”.
    4. You comments on the added stamp are absolutely correct. However it’s a pity that a geniune postcard was so badly damaged. Moreover – please note that in late March 1920 the postcards with 30 kop surcharges/’Z’ monogram (with real, not philatelic cancelations) are quite rare, they were mostly used in 1919.
    Recommendations to your fellow collector: restore the stamp with correct value, indicate in resporation document what was particularly done with regard the stamp, postmark and the postcard. In this case the collector could save (as a postal history item only) a rare example of late use of the real 30 kop/inverted large Z monogram. Needless to say that the restoration should be done by a qualified specialist not by the amateur.

  2. Stefan says:

    Rafael, thanks for the valuable comments. The explanation of a receiver cachet or some other marking for archive purposes fits nicely. A pity it was damaged in an effort to remove it…

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