Reprint from Lebanon Philately Fri Sep 24, 2004
I do not think it is really hard to define what a forgery is.
During the process of printing some errors are made. This can
include double or inverted overprints in addition to other more minor
errors such as missing letters, broken letters, displaced letters and the like.
Some of these reach the public through the post office (the inverted jenny
is an example of an error that reached the public). So, unintentional errors
occur even if they seem quite dramatic.
During the printing of the Lebanon overprint issues,
some errors were made on purpose by the printing press for the benefit
of collectors. A well known example of such errors from another collecting
is the misperf errors of king farouk. These were made for the king and are
currently collected and are sometimes expensive. So, this type of
errors was prepared using the original lates AND original inks at the
time of issue. Whether someone wants to collect such errors or not
is a personal choice.
A forgery is what has been prepared using modern materials.
For example, if someone has an original handstamp and uses
that to make a cover (the olympics on cover for example) using
modern ink, that is a forgery by any definition of the word.
Whether you want to buy it or not is up to you, but at least
you should always no what you are buying.
If someone makes a new overprint not using the original plates,
then that is a forgery by an definition.
These are the types of forgeries I refer to when I say that there
are forgeries on ebay. You should always be careul what you
buy and you should always ask for an expertzing extension even
if you do not use it. In the past, I asked for an expertizing
extension from Mr. Assad and he was glad to grant me such
an extension. I sent the stamps for expertization and they came
back genuine. You should always ask for that option and if
the seller has nothing to hide they should be glad to grant
Other sellers might not be willing to grant you an extension
and in that case you should wonder their reason for that.
This happened with me in the past.
Below is a message a posted a while ago. It might be
Lebanon overprinted issues.
- According to Yvert 1936 specialized edition, there is
a large number of errors produced in clandestine
printings (supposedely these are prepared using the
original inks and plates at the time of issue). Yvert
1936 states that it only lists errors that have reached
the general public through the post office. Even with this
restriction, there are too many Lebanon errors. I personally
collect all errors that have been produced using original
inks and plates. It should be emphasized that errors
prepared in clandestine printing using original material
cannot be distinguished from other “genuine” errors. The
only source that I know to distinguish them is Yvert 1936
edition. Maury lists errors that are not listed in Yvert
1936. It should be noted here that Yvert 1936 is not exhaustive
and there are errors produced in official printings that
are not listed in Yvert 1936. These have been identified
by later studies done by collectors. Typically, these
are not major double/inverted overprints, but rather minor
errors that have to do with spacing and defects with
- To spot forgeries, you should have reference material.
Forgers typically do not have reference material, the
patience or the knowledge needed to prepare truly good
forgeries. For the GRAND LIBAN and Gd Liban overprints,
forgers do not have in general access to french stamps
without overprints, so forgeries are typically double
overprints rather than inverted overprints (it is easier
to get the overprinted Lebanon stamps, than the orginal
french stamps). This does not mean that forgeries of
inverted overprints were not made (one example is the
Ronsard stamp. One forgery I know has narrow distance between
the arabic 4 and “al-kabir”). Some time ago there was a
number of the french period errors with double and double-one-
inverted overprints that are all forgeries in my opinion.
Assuming you have enough reference material (large blocks
or panes of normal stamps), you can spot forgeries by
comparing the original stamp to the stamp with the error.
Typically, each position has some small defect in the overprint
that can be used to identify it. Also, the base stamp itself
typically has some small variations. The first step is to
identify the plate position of the overprint. Then, you
would want to make sure that the base stamp itself is the
correct plate position. For double overprints the plate
position of the base stamps should be the same as
the same plate position for the overprint. Also, the two
overprints should be the same (have the same defects).
One cannot rule out the possibility that the paper
can shift and that the two overprints do not match, but
this is the exception and very uncommon. For inverted overprints,
the plate position of the base stamp is not the same as that
of the overprint. For stamps that are printed in panes
of 50, the plate position of the base stamp should be 50-x
where x is the plate position of the overprint. In my collection,
I have “expertized” almost all my french period errors using
the method described above. Note that there are other things to
look at like the ink and the impression, but usually, if the
plate positions match, one can be confident. The forger does
not have usually the knowledge or material
to prepare forgeries that take into consideration plate
positions. One should keep in mind that some stamps had
multiple printings in which case one would have to have
reference material for all printings in order to decide
that a particular stamp is a forgery.
Some sellers can be quite obstinate though. In the past,
I have pointed to some sellers on ebay that what they are
selling are forgeries based on comparisons to blocks I have.
For example, I have to panes of 50 of the Ronsard stamps
(of which there was one printing). A seller once told me
that my sheets might be forgeries and his single stamp
genuine. While this is true in principle, in practice,
forging a whole sheet with different defects in every
position is highly unlikely especially for cheap lebanese
stamps (I have seen in the past forgeries of whole
sheets of expensize hong kong stamps).
Hopefully, this is helpful (for some of you, this old news).