When fellow Local Post Collectors Society member Rusty M. recently sent a few of his local post covers my way, he also included a cover with what at first glance look like common Forever stamps issued over the past several years.
The only problem is that they’re counterfeits. Every one of them.
As you can see, Rusty has wisely canceled the stamps with his Jefferson Territory postmark to ensure they can’t actually be used. He has spent a ton of time looking for modern postal counterfeits, and sadly enough, he has found plenty.
Postal counterfeits go back a long way. The first ones to be produced in the United States showed up in the late 19th century! Those early counterfeits were generally not very dangerous since the genuine article was engraved and the counterfeits were not, but at any rate, this is not a new problem.
It is, however, a big problem for the United States Postal Service. The things have become so common that I received one on a cover in 2019, and found one in the recycle bin at the post office earlier this year, and then received two more on covers from a collector! My guess is that collector didn’t even realize the stamps he was using were not legitimate.
I don’t receive a ton of mail with stamps on it, and most of the stamps I do acquire are the nondemoninated nonprofit stamps used on fundraising solicitations. If I’m finding counterfeits on my incoming mail, they have to be common.
Some of these modern postal counterfeits are pretty easy to spot. A couple of the flag stamps on Rusty’s cover, for example, look wrong and feel wrong. Many are much more convincing, and some look so close to the real thing that it’s only under high magnification that inconsistencies appear. The print quality and accuracy of the die cutting is good enough that the counterfeits must be the products of a professional operation; they’re not simply copies that people are running off their inkjet printers at home.
You’re most likely to get hold of a batch of counterfeits by buying from various online sellers advertising recent coils or sheets of Forever stamps at less than face value—sometimes much less than face value. Some of those offers may be legitimate, but ask yourself this: why would someone sell Forever stamps at less than face value? 3¢ and 5¢ stamps of years gone by? Sure; collectors saved huge numbers of those, and they’re not very convenient to use. But Forever stamps don’t have that drawback. A Forever stamp has the same value it did when it was purchased: it pays the cost of mailing one letter.
With that in mind, I invite you to join me in steering clear of online ads for Forever stamps at less than face value unless you’re buying from a reputable, established stamp dealer who’s willing to guarantee that the stamps are legitimate. Otherwise, buy your Forever stamps from your local post office or via the official USPS website; that’s what I do, and I can be far more confident that I’m getting the real deal and not getting ripped off or inadvertently defrauding the USPS by using counterfeit stamps. No, it won’t stop other people who aren’t aware that they’re buying counterfeits from putting money in the countefeiters’ pockets, but at least we won’t be contributing to the plague.
This supplement wraps up my 17th consecutive year of producing and sharing free United States stamp album pages, and I’m very grateful to everyone who has taken an interest in my project over the years—and especially to those who have supported my efforts in some way.
This supplement is part of The Philosateleian’s standard quarterly update track. If you prefer to print album pages for the entire year all in one go, I plan to make a full set of pages for 2022 available in early January 2023.
Please let me me know if you have any comments or questions, and thank you again for using The Philosateleian!
Navigators cover, BRE both have stamp-sized images
Over the past four years, I’ve written here about numerous nonprofit business reply envelopes bearing cinderellas or pre-printed stamp-sized designs. Another of those showed up in the family mailbox this week, the third such item we’ve received from Navigators. This envelope bears three pre-printed examples of a somewhat stylized poinsettia.
A fairly nondescript BRE, typically worth only a couple of sentences here. What was noteworthy about this one is that it was distributed in an envelope that also bears several copies of a pre-printed stamp-sized image of a church!
Why do I say that’s noteworthy? Because even though we’ve received business reply envelopes of this sort from numerous charities since the first one I saw from Boys Town in early 2019, this is the first time I can recall the outer envelope in which the BRE was mailed having the same sort of pre-printed images. It seems like such a simple thing, but this is the first one I can remember like that.
Update: this machine has been spoken for and is no longer available for sale.
It’s not often that someone contacts me telling me they have an antique perforating machine for sale, but that happened to me recently when I heard from Bob B. in Georgia. Bob recently acquired a Southworth tabletop perforator just like the one I own, and not having a use for the machine himself, he’s looking to put it into the hands of someone who will appreciate it.
Bob sent along a few photos, and the perforator certainly looks nice enough on the surface.
The big question with an antique perforator is, of course, how well does it perforate? According to Bob, his machine does a good clean job.
If I lived 1,000 miles to the east, I’d be tempted to go check out this machine for myself, but since I don’t, I volunteered to mention it here on my blog in case you might be interested in acquiring a genuine vintage perforator.
Bob is located in the Atlanta area, and he’s asking $400 for the perforator. (I have no vested interest in this, but if the perforator is as good as it looks in the photographs, I’d have to say it’s well worth that price. This machine can perforate a line up to 15″ long, the only tabletop model of which I’m aware that can do that.) Perhaps most importantly, Bob is willing to ship within the United States, though of course you’ll have to pay the cost of shipping.
If you’re interested, please contact Bob directly at (404) 234-4989. I’ll update this post once I receive confirmation from him that the perforator has been sold.