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One of the key reasons for purchasing stamps from a reputable source is so that you can ensure you are buying the genuine article. Stamps have been forged since the 19th century, some with spectacular precision. Minor variations in shade, overprint, watermark etc can have a significant affect on price: the maxim ‘if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is’ has never rung more truly than with investment grade stamps.

The good news is that there are enough expert evaluators (see expertising) and sophisticated equipment to reveal the most cleverly crafted forgery. Buy wisely from dealers and auctions that stand by their reputation, look for certificates wherever possible and you shouldn’t go wrong. As we constantly emphasize, knowledge is the key to wise purchasing. As an investor, don’t take the risk of spending a large amount of money on a stamp that does not come from a reliable source and sleep easy in knowing that you own the genuine article.

Regumming can be a problem on early stamps. A fresh film of gum is applied to give the appearance of mint condition to artificially inflate the value of the stamp. Unused stamps can command a substantial premium over used examples and regumming is adopted to give the stamp the impression that it is mint. The stamp may look presentable but its overall value will have been diminished.

Other activities of the forger may include:

  • Replacing missing teeth from the edge of a stamp
  • Adding or removing a perforated edge
  • Changing the gauge of perforation
  • Repairing a torn stamp
  • Removing overprints and surcharges (or adding them)
  • Removing part of the design
  • Chemically changing the stamps colour
  • Removing the postmark or adding a new postmark
  • Creating a watermark or eliminating one
    • Although this may appear a minefield for an amateur investor, these factors should not be an issue provided one buys from a reputable source where the dealer or auctioneer is prepared to stand behind the validity and provenance of the stamps on sale.

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