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Sunday, 10 March 2019 07:47

Color changeling or genuine variety?

 

Color varieties are always a challenge to expertizers. So many things can go wrong in the process of applying ink to paper that assessing a variety sent in for an opinion requires a good grounding in production processes.

The single best reference point for stamp collectors who want to understand stamp production is the book, Fundamentals of Philately by L.N. Williams. The 1990 revised edition was published by the American Philatelic Society, and is still available at $60 for nonmembers and $48 for members, plus $3 shipping (ordering information can be found on the APS website, www.stamps.org).

Fundamentals of Philately is well illustrated and its hardbound 862 pages reveal a wealth of information about how postage stamps have been created since their invention more than 170 years ago.

For those of us who enjoy the search for the odd and offbeat, it is essential reading. But Fundamentals of Philately can also be used as a reference to research individual items as it has an excellent 60-page index.

Back to the main subject for this column, a color changeling on cover is shown in Figure 1, courtesy of Len Piszkiewicz, the editor of the United States Specialist, the monthly journal of the United States Stamp Society. Piszkiewicz has a doctorate in organic chemistry, which is relevant to this discussion.

The stamp on the cover is the 3¢ stamp showing a portrait of George Washington modeled from a painting by Gilbert Stuart (Scott 720). Issued in 1932, it was the workhorse mail-use stamp from that point until the issuance of the 3¢ Thomas Jefferson of the Presidential series (807) on June 16, 1938.

Issued as a purple stamp, the 3¢ Washington on the Figure 1 cover has turned to blue. There are no significant color varieties for this issue; the Scott Specialized Catalog of United States Stamps and Covers lists only a “light purple” as a minor variation.

If this cover were submitted for expertizing, it would be immediately considered suspicious — and not because of the brown stains at the top that indicate that the stamp was licked and placed on the envelope by a smoker. That is often the source of brown stains on stamps from this and earlier periods.

In this instance, Piszkiewicz provided a clue: The stamp is on a cover addressed to Breuners, a furniture store in Stockton, Calif. He thinks that the company’s old correspondence likely was stored where it was exposed to some furniture refinishing chemical that bleached out the red in the stamp.

In sending an image of this cover to me, Piszkiewicz noted that he has seen other Breuners’ covers with blue 3¢ Washington stamps.

Given that the white paper on which the stamp was printed is also toned, I would agree with him. This is not the color of the stamp as it rolled off the press, and that is the definition of what we in philately call a “changeling.”

That does not presuppose intentional alteration by a person. Many times, a changeling occurs because of accidental exposure to a change agent, usually a chemical or intense or prolonged light.

What does an expertizer look for when trying to determine whether a color is genuine or a changeling or indeed missing altogether? Here is a short list of resources and considerations:

• For older stamps through the Third Bureau Issue (the Washington-Franklins of 1908-22), I use the series of books by R.H. White, Encyclopedia of the Colors of United States Postage Stamps, Volumes I-IV, published by Philatelic Research Ltd., 1981. A sample of one of White’s color plates is shown in Figure 2. Though no longer in print, these books are sometimes available from philatelic literature dealers.

In these books, White illustrates all the cataloged color varieties, and some that aren’t in the catalog. If a submitted stamp has a color not presented by White, that is cause for immediate suspicion.

• From the Fourth Bureau Issue on, there is no comparable reference, but it is possible to put together a personal reference based on auction catalog illustrations. It is important to be certain that the description that goes with the catalog illustration indicates that the item pictured has a certificate.

• Most expertizers build a clipping file containing articles and illustrations from philatelic periodicals, correspondence, and examples of past submissions on which they have given opinions.

• Also, most expertizers also have an always-growing reference collection. That can be an expensive proposition if perfect examples of the stamps are required, but what is important is that the colors be established, not that the back has pristine gum. My reference collection includes some fairly dog-eared stamps representing both good and bad examples of major varieties. A new addition is shown in Figure 3.

This cover has two light-colored candidates as Scott 64, the pink version of the 1861 3¢ Washington. However, per its American Philatelic Expertizing Service certificate, they are “Scott No. 65 used on cover, genuine, color faded, short/pulled perfs.”

• Some methods of altering colors will affect the consistency of the paper. So if a patient is ridged in whole or part, has scrunches in the paper or it has shrunk, it is suspicious.

• If the paper on which the stamp is printed is bleached whiter than normal, that’s a strike against it.

• If the color is inconsistent across the totality of the stamp, that is suspicious.

• Often, whatever changes the color of the ink also darkens the paper from its natural color. Comparison with normal stamps is helpful in making that determination.

• On stamps issued after the 1960s, alterations in color can also affect the tagging. That is not always the case, but it is a reliable indicator when it occurs. Look for blotchy tagging and different color tagging from the normal.

• Experience! The more one works with color and the more examples seen of both good and bad submissions, the more likely the expertizer’s initial gut reaction to a new patient is likely to be correct.

It is clear from looking at this list that expertizing color is both science and art. In the rare instance where color comparisons are possible using highly technical equipment, opinions may be 100-percent reliable. Otherwise, opinions may be close to that mark, but there will be times when even the experts disagree. The result will be a “no opinion” finding.

Source: linns.com

 

Published in News

Advance registration is open for the Civil War Postal Exhibition and Symposium (October 24-26, 2019) sponsored by the Confederate Stamp Alliance in conjunction with the American Philatelic Society.

Come out to the American Philatelic Center in Bellefonte, PA for dedication of the Kaufmann Civil War Room, a World Series of Philately show and to fully experience “The Civil War, a Postal System Divided”. All are welcome to this free event, although registration is required either in advance or at the venue.

Made possible with a grant from Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries and financial support from H. R. Harmer GPN and Schuyler J. Rumsey Philatelic Auctions, this one-time event will feature Civil War centric exhibits, dealers and speakers. The already sold-out bourse is set to include 10 specialized dealers and international philatelic auctioneers.

Symposium topics include:

- The 3¢ Nashville Provisional (Francis J. Crown, Jr.)
- Evolution of Confederate Army Field Post Service During the War Between the States (Stefan T. Jaronski, Ph.D.)
- The American Civil War Captured in Thirty-One Covers (Dr. Daniel M. Knowles)
- A Country Divided: Effects of the American Civil War on the Mails (Daniel J. Ryterband).

This WSP show will have 125 competitive frames, as well as a court of honor. The Grand Award winner will be eligible for the 2020 Champion of Champions in Hartford, Connecticut, at StampShow 2020.

Over 50 percent of the competition frames have been spoken for and the court of honor frames are almost over-subscribed. Deadline for entries is August 15, 2019. Any interested exhibitors are advised to apply now.

Exhibit set-up will be Thursday. View exhibits on display Friday and Saturday along with judges Darrell Ertzberger (Chief Judge) Dr. Daniel C. Warren and Stephen Reinhard.

For more event details, exhibit prospectus and application, advance registration, online hotel booking and more, visit www.cwstampex.org or write to Jerry S. Palazolo, 5010 Raleigh LaGrange Road, Memphis, TN 38128.

Source: stamps.org

Published in News

The aim of the Young Collector Scholarship Program is to nourish a vibrant culture for philatelic learning by providing support to young collectors.

Two scholarships, the Norris “Bob” Dyer Scholarship, sponsored by the British North American Philatelic Society, and the Wayne Youngblood Scholarship will be awarded to young stamp collectors between the ages of 16 and 24 who are residents of the United States or Canada.

Applicants must be 16 years of age, but not older than 24 years of as of June 1, 2019 to apply. Immediate family members of APS/APRL Board members or staff and current participants of the Young Philatelic Leaders Fellowship are not eligible. Young collectors who are not 18 years of age prior to June 1, 2019 must be accompanied by a parent or chaperone.

Each $1000 scholarship will help to defray the costs for a young collector between the ages of 16 and 24 to attend the 40th Annual Summer Seminar on Philately, scheduled for June 24 – 27, 2019 at the American Philatelic Center in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. Each application will be reviewed by a selection committee and awarded on the basis of merit.

Application Deadline: April 1, 2019.

Click here to learn more about APS Education

Published in News

“I AM JUST FINISH AS A FORGER. I JUST WANT TO ENJOY THE YEARS OF MY LIFE THAT I HAVE LEFT.”

The business

As noted below, Juan Canoura Sr. claims that his involvement with some aspects of his craft goes back at least some sixteen years, though he also asserts (April 2004) that his stock is the work of ten years. In September 2003, the business was described as established for over five years. Others have dated his eBay sales of forged overprints from late 1999, and of fake stamps and sheets from late 2001, though Canoura, as “jcsr.”, was first registered on eBay on February 23 1999, and he dates his eBay business from that point. An early feedback, from that May, mentions “unusual Brunei items”. (The current “user id history” for “atdinvest” on eBay.com seems confused and incorrect. Essentially, a number of user id’s – “jcsr.”, “cclan”, and “futete”, have been “merged” with “atdinvest”. The id “unlimitedstamps” has also been used.)

On February 24 2000, a year and a day after Canoura joined eBay, ATD Investments Inc. was filed as a Florida profit corporation, giving the principal address of 2500 W 56 St., Apt. 1416, Hialeah, FL 33016. The registered agent and sole director is Mercy Canoura, Juan’s wife, who has taken care of emails, packing, etc. Another address used is 10161 NW., 126th Terrace, Hialeah Gardens, FL 33018, while the company’s mailing address is registered as: PO Box 161060, Hialeah, FL 33016 (also 33016-0018).

In June 2001, Juan Sr. was described as 56 years of age, and Mercy as 40. The Latin American paper Money Society (LANSA) lists Juan Canoura Sr. as a member at the first address given above.

Auction descriptions claim that the business enjoys “over 6,000 regular customers … making up to $60,000 a year as part time”, and mention both a “mail order operation with monthly catalog”, and a “website with domain”. For several years Canoura has used ValueWeb (http://64.70.186.141) to host his auction images, and has reserved the domain name of atdstamps.com, though this is not an active website.

Since September 2003, the business, or major elements of it, has been offered four times on eBay, once on auction-warehouse.com, at least once on sell.com and four times on auction.com, at prices up to $69,900, though recently for very much less.

The American Philatelic Society and the De Thuin connection

Following these unsuccessful auctions, Canoura says that the American Philatelic Society (APS) has attempted to persuade him to donate his stock and equipment to them for reference, but that he has refused, confident that he will find a buyer.

Recently, he has also claimed that his perforating equipment and a large number of rubber hand stamps originally belonged to the notorous Belgian forger Raoul Ch. De Thuin, who worked in Mexico, but died in 1975 in Guayaquil, Ecuador. In 1966 many of De Thuin’s effects were bought up by the APS, following the efforts of their “Committee of Five”, led by James Mensinger Chemi, as narrated in The Yucatan Affair (1974, reprinted 1980). Despite this, De Thuin retained some material, and after moving to Guayaquil continued to produce forgeries on a lesser scale up to his death. Canoura claims that he acquired his perforator from a relative of De Thuin about sixteen years ago in Quito, Ecuador, along with the handstamps, mostly of cancellations. He still considers De Thuin to be one of the greatest, and rates his work more highly than Sperati’s.

At an earlier point, “atdinvest” presented his own productions as the work of, variously, Dr Alejandro Martinez, Antonio Jorge, Colonel Serghei Ulianovich Kerchenko or Andy Thomas. No one else has ever heard of these prolific forgers. (“Harold Bynof” was also cited as the creator of some items, even though Harold Bynof-Smith (actual name) was in fact a noted collector of forgeries.) It would be sensible to see the De Thuin story as a similar fiction, but it may have the ring of truth. Separate disposal of the De Thuin items is an option under consideration.

Details of the perforating equipment and cancellations involved are given below.

Overprints and cancellations

As already noted, the earliest period of sales involved fake overprints and cancellations on genuine stamps. Many of these have been carefully documented by others.

The auction descriptions include “rubber stamp cancellations, surcharges, overprints (worldwide), 1886 in total”. Specific areas of cancellations mentioned are French colonies, offices and expeditionary forces, “complete” German colonies, offices and feldpost, “complete” “British Colonies and the period of WWI & WWII, etc.”

Of these 1886 hand stamps, 465 were acquired from De Thuin’s stock, of which the majority are cancellations, and the minority overprints. The De Thuin cancellations include French colonies, German consulates and offices abroad before 1914, Mexico, and others not specified. The German cancellations of the two world wars are of Canoura’s making, as are the “Specimen” and “Muestra” overprints.

It is not clear whether the 1886 total includes many reproductions still laid out in vinyl sheets, ready to be cut up and mounted onto blocks.

Not mentioned in the auction descriptions, but part of the stock, are several cases of worldwide “postal history”, though it is not clear whether these involve forged cancellations on genuine stamps, on genuine covers or on reproductions.

Reproductions

The later period of sales involved innumerable “sheets” of “reproductions” of worldwide stamps, sometimes divided into blocks. Invariably, all positions on each “sheet” share identical characteristics, showing that a single scanned item has been multiplied digitally. Stamp sizes are often fractionally different to the originals, colours are often approximate, and detail is occasionally poor, indicating that the source is generally an illustration of some kind, perhaps black and white, rather than an actual stamp.

Included in the auctions are two stock books containing over two hundred “original proofs used to be reproduced”. These represent a tiny proportion of the wide variety of stamps produced.

In addition to the huge range of stamps already printed, some 2,000 “new designs” still await completion. These are presumably single scanned items, stored on CD, yet to be multiplied into “sheets” and given colours.

The completed “plates” are also stored on CD, from which they are printed, and are identified on the labels as “modificado”. The auctions mention variously “hundreds” or “thousands” of “proofs” and “plates”. In September 2003 there were 82 CD’s, 85 in October, and 87 by April 2004.

This process is simple enough to replicate. Using Photoshop, Paint Shop Pro, or similar, a high resolution scan of a suitably sharp black and white image can easily be given an even colour, flipped (if necessary) to a mirror image for printing, and then multiplied into a “sheet” by simply using a table in Word.

The auction stock includes “over 25,000 sheets (all different)”, plus “a few thousand” blocks and perforated stamps, alternatively estimated as “millions” of “classic stamps”. Anyone purchasing and selling these, claims Canoura, would have so much stock in hand that they would not need to produce any more for at least two years.

The number of rows and columns per sheet depends entirely on the size of the stamp involved. Margins are always very generous. All complete sheets are imperforate, and only blocks and singles perforated – a point discussed further below.

Paper and gum

The paper used is white and is not watermarked. All sheets are approximately, but never precisely, A4 size, which is properly 210 mm x 297 mm. This choice of size may originally have been intended to suggest a European origin, or may conceivably be tied to the printing process (see below). Though sometimes advertised as “A4”, “atdinvest’s” sheets seem to measure 214 mm by something between 299 mm and 302 mm. This clearly indicates that his paper is not bought in A4 sheets but is cut down at home, and on my example a fold is clearly visible next to the guillotined edge.

The generally rounded and crinkly appearance, highlighted here by tinkering with the contrast setting, suggests that sheets are cut from a roll.

Is this just an economy, or perhaps a necessity, given that A4 paper is not readily available in the ‘States?

A supply of gum arabic in powder form, with instructions for use, is included in the auctions. The results look convincing. Occasional faint striations in the gum suggest that it may be applied with a roller, and an accidental line of gum near one front edge of my example suggests that it has been gummed after the sheet was cut to size.

The printing process

This remains the most problematical aspect. Canoura is adamant that neither a photocopier nor a computer printer is used, but has never been willing to provide precise or credible details, always insisting on a process similar to rotogravure. This seems to make little sense, given that rotogravure is a large scale process for high print runs, involving multiple rotary intaglio plates. Whatever “atdinvest’s” exact process, it is supposedly digitally controlled, and a simple one man operation. Certainly, a single “plate” is used, no matter how many colours are involved, as there is no sign of any colour registration.

The ink appears raised and glossy, with a finely mottled surface, reminiscent of some early colour photocopiers, or of thermal transfers. It seems significant that apparently only single sheets have been made of each “plate”, when the purpose of most print methods is to provide many copies cheaply. In addition to the slightly crinkled look of some sheets, a strong line of pressure can be seen in the paper outside each edge of the print area, as shown on these heightened examples:

These clues seem to suggest some form of computer-generated thermal transfer. However, a standard home transfer, such as an iron-on t-shirt type, leaves a visible “transparent” film over the surface, and when applied to paper, the ink tends to spread slightly under pressure, filling in details. Neither of these characteristics appear in these reproductions. Some sort of thermal transfer printer is possible, perhaps involving a small heat press, which might create the pressure lines noted.

It is conceivable that the wide margins or the use of “A4” paper may have some connection with the process used.

Perforation

As mentioned above, the perforator offered in the auctions was supposedly used by De Thuin, and acquired around 1988. If that is so, it is unclear why no perforated items were offered until late May 2003.

It consists of two thick sheets of glass or perspex, drilled with four short series of holes in gauges 12, 13, 14 and 15. Paper is clamped between the sheets, and the holes are punched individually with a long needle. This is laborious to use, and clearly only a short length of paper can be perforated in one operation, making it better suited to the re-perforation of damaged single stamps, which must be what it was designed for. Because of this, no perforated sheets exist, only singles and small blocks, including “errors”.

In practice, the perforator is placed on the glass of a small “Porta-Trace” lightbox, and heavy magnifying goggles are used, which are also supposed to have belonged to De Thuin.

Backstamps

Despite eBay policy, Canoura admits that no items have been marked “repro” or similar on the reverse. Auction images showing such a marking on backs of stamps were clearly created digitally.

Source: My Stamp World

Published in News