Kevin Blackston
PO Box 17544
San Antonio TX 78217-0544
United States of America

Philosateleian Blog

Fake Canal Zone overprint will fool virtually nobody

While in the local stamp shop a few weeks back, I was flipping through stock cards when I found what was labeled as a Canal Zone Scott 92, the 20¢ Golden Gate fourth Bureau issue stamp with a Canal Zone overprint. Except for the overprinted 14¢ American Indian stamps from the same issue, Canal Zone stamps are not something in which I’ve ever taken much interest, and I almost certainly would have passed on this one except for one thing.

The overprint is fake. I mean really and truly fake, the sort that you don’t have to be an expert to spot. I thought it might be of interest to you, so I bought it so I could share it here.

20¢ Golden Gate stamp with fake Canal Zone overprint
Fake Overprint

Why do I say that the overprint is fake? For one thing, the letters in the overprint aren’t in a straight line; for example, look how the “O” in “ZONE” dips down below the vinette, while the other letters don’t. In addition, the “N” in “CANAL” looks like it can’t decide which way to lean—the left leg is bowed in at the top, while the right leg is more vertical but not overly straight—and the top of the “L” in “CANAL” is not far from being as long as the bottom! Yes, it’s a fake, and not an overly convincing one. Finally, the letters in the overprint have a generally smudgy appearance that’s a far cry from the sharpness of genuine examples that I’ve seen.

The basic United States stamp is valued at just over catalogue minimum even in very fine condition, which this stamp is not, but even if the overprint was genuine, it would still have a Scott catalogue value of less than $4. It hardly seems worthwhile to fake! Perhaps whoever added the fake overprint was simply practicing on a cheap stamp; I guess we should just be thankful they didn’t ruin something nicer.

Purgatory Post commemorates transatlantic flight centennial

The United States last year celebrated the 100th anniversary of airmail in the USA. Earlier this month, New Hampshire-based Purgatory Post commemorated another centennial: the 100th anniversary of the first non-stop transatlantic flight, which originated in St. John’s, Newfoundland, on June 14, 1919, and ended in County Galway, Ireland, the next day.

The design of the 15-sola local post stamp is based on an unissued essay prepared by the British printing firm De La Rue in 1922.

Purgatory Post stamp picturing Vickers Vimy airplane
Purgatory Post First Transatlantic Flight

Purgatory Post operator Scott Abbot notes that John Alcock, pilot, and Arthur Brown, nagivator, “carried a small amount of mail on this flight, making it also the first transatlantic airmail flight!” The Scott Classic Specialized Catalogue of Stamps & Covers values covers from that flight at over $1,000 each.

Wild and Scenic Rivers stamps are truly wild

There are a lot of modern United States stamps about which I don’t have particularly strong feelings. It’s nothing personal, but whether it’s the designs or the subject matter or whatever the case may be, my reaction is little more than a shrug of the shoulders.

The Wild and Scenic Rivers stamps released in May, on the other hand? Absolutely gorgeous!

Pane of 12 United States stamps picturing American rivers
Wild and Scenic Rivers stamp pane

The stamps picture a dozen North American rivers: the Merced, the Owyhee, the Koyukuk, the Niobrara, the Snake, the Flathead, the Missouri, the Skagit, the Deschutes, the Tlikakila, the Ontonagon, and the Clarion. The photo of the Merced River, which runs through Yosemite Valley, is used a second time as the pane’s selvage.

Again, these stamps are beautiful. I’ll be the first to admit that my love of landscapes is no doubt a big part of why I like these stamps so much, but wow. I purchased five panes; one pane’s worth of stamps are for my collection, and the rest are for use as postage. I would not be at all surprised to see this issue sell out just like last year’s O Beautiful stamps.

Flag stamp falls clearly in the counterfeit category

When I checked my post office box yesterday, there was only one item inside, but it was one I’d been eagerly anticipating: a 14¢ American Indian cover that I hope to share in a future post. Today, however, I wanted to examine the envelope in which that purchase was shipped.

When I first saw that envelope, something about the stamp on it didn’t look exactly right. I think it was the somewhat jagged left edge of the design that caught my eye, but in any case, I wasn’t sure until I got it home.

Cover bearing counterfeit 2017 United States flag stamp
Cover bearing United States flag stamp

Now, after examining the stamp under a magnifying glass, I know for certain what’s wrong with it. It’s a counterfeit.

How can I be so sure? Well, it’s actually easy. Here are close-ups of the stamp on the envelope and a genuine copy of the same issue.

Counterfeit and genuine 2017 United States flag coil stamps
Left: counterfeit stamp from envelope. Right: genuine stamp.

Note that there is no microprinted “USPS” along the right edge of the fourth red stripe on the counterfeit stamp, while on the genuine there is. Note the repeated circular pattern in the shaded areas of the white stripes on the counterfeit, while the white stripes on the genuine appear more smooth. Note how the edges of some of the letters in the “USA FOREVER” on the counterfeit stamp are poorly defined. Note the poor color registration resulting in a jagged-edged design that was what caught my attention in the first place. And the list goes on.

I’ve blocked out the sender’s return address in my scan of the envelope since they may not even be aware that they’re using counterfeit postage, but I did send them a message through eBay to let them know they might want to take a closer look. Hopefully, now that they’ve been notified, they’ll start using genuine stamps to mail their eBay lots, maybe even some nice commemoratives.

Stamps on trains

At first glance, you might think the title of this post is wrong. This is, after all, a blog about stamps and stamp collecting, so surely I mean trains on stamps?

That is a reasonable guess. And it’s wrong. Let me explain.

My family and I last month visited the Texas Transportation Museum here in San Antonio. In addition to having a couple of old diesel locomotives and a few pieces of rolling stock, the museum has a large building full of old cars, posters, and model trains, including a nicely done HO scale layout running the length of one wall. It was there that I saw my very first stamp on a train since one of the boxcars in the layout bears an image of the 34¢ Greetings from New York stamp from the 2002 Greetings from America sheet.

HO scale boxcar with design of 34¢ Greetings from New York stamp on side
Greetings from New York stamp boxcar

Although it’s not something I’ve ever pursued, model railroading is a hobby that has always held a certain amount of attraction for me. That’s more than likely because my granddad would take me down to his basement when I was a kid and show me his model train setup. It’s a nostalgia thing, and something that I connect with him.

Add stamps to the mix, and I feel a sudden urge to put on a conductor’s cap and start laying track. It may be a good thing that I don’t have room to do so! Anyway, this just goes to show that you can find stamps in unexpected places.

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