A beautiful multiple with an outstanding error. Is it legit?

I am a big fan of multiples. You can see how the “human factor” of the manual approach results in specific differences of the individual overprints. Each one was applied in a single step. So, without further ado, here is the beauty:

As an additional feature, this one shows a prominent error: one stamp has a 5r overprint instead of a 3r.

Checking the overprints

Let us start with the 3r HH. This overprint was not forged that often. Most likely because it is quite common, and the catalog values are low.

Shape, ink and style are ok, there is no indication of a forgery present and therefore is accepted as genuine.

On to the “5r”.

A first visual inspection shows:

  • The ink of the “5” is different from all other overprints. Less black, more grayish. The “5” must have been added in an extra step, perhaps even much later.
  • The “r” seems to stand way too much to the right in comparison to the monogram.
  • The ink of the “r” matches more the monogram and the “3r” ink.
  • The shape of the “5” itself, especially the end of the foot looks a bit untypical. There seems also t be a “curb” in the belly of the “5”. Like, the lower part was added or is from another hand stamp.

In general, a “5r HH” overprint can be created by either simply using a complete “5r HH” hand stamp or by combining parts of different hand stamps. The latter is done in several steps. Perhaps the lower part of the “3r HH” hand stamp did not print, or it was deliberately prevented from printing by tilting the hand stamp or use of paper. In a second step, the missing parts were added. It is even possible the “r” was added from yet another hand stamp.

Let us start with the easiest and most common variant, a simple “5r HH” hand stamp.

The “5r HH” hand stamp comes in three types. The only possible match, due to distance “5” to “r” and shape of “5” is type T3. For this one to be genuine, it would necessary that the monogram and the “5” were produced individually. The “r” could belong to the monogram or even have been added in an extra step.

The distance between the “3” and the “r” seems to match quite nicely. It is also possible that pat of the “3” was printed and got over stamped by a “5”. This could possibly explain the clunky shape of the resulting “5”. The shape of the “r” seems to match the “r” of the “3r HH”. Still, the distance and angle between “r” and monogram is not fitting.

Checking the different types of the small “HH” monograms is only possible if the present imprints are especially clean and clear. In this case, the quality of the overprint is not good enough.


The “5” looks untypical, and the shape differs from genuine examples. While there is a small chance that this is the result of the manual work, the result leaves a lot of doubt.

The item is therefore considered “doubtful”. It is neither a clear forgery nor a clearly genuine stamp. This is understandably not satisfying, but an inherent problem of this interesting field. In the end, it makes the clearly genuine items even more desirable and valuable.

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