Postage Stamps used in the German Marshall Islands
11--Forgeries and Fraudulent Overprints
by Dirk H.R. Spennemann

In this chapter we will describe the fraudulent stamps, both complete forgeries as well as falsified stamps. Expanded versions are available for most sections in this chapter. These contain more detail, in paricular more illustrative material and all references. The reader is encourage to peruse these if more detail is required.

The fraudulent overprints of the "G.R.I." stamps have been dealt with in the chapter on the British Occupation Stamps. Many forgeries are confined to the manipulation (such as backdating) or full recreation of cancels. These activities were not confined to the Marshall Islands, but were committed by German postal workers in other Pacific colonies as well. Among the latter, the administrators in the Marianas were particularly inventive and busy.


Fournier forgeries
Fournier forgeries are among the most famous items in the stamp world. François Fournier (1846-1917) produced large amounts of false postage stamps between 1900 and 1914. To avoid prosecution for forging legal and valid stamps, Fournier concentrated on reproducing obsolete stamp issues for sale by tobbanocists, book dealers and stationers. He issued a catalogue and pricelist of facsimiles which contained over 3600 entries. From 1910 to 1913 Fournier published a journal Le Fac-Simile where he discussed these issues. He saw himself as a producer of stamps for those who could or would not afford the real item. His assistant, Karl Hirschburger, carried on the business for a while, but without much success. After Hirschburger's death the remaining stock was bought by the "Union Philatelique de Geneve, which subsequently issued 480 albums of Fournier's stamps for reference purposes, each stamp overprinted "Faux" or "Facsimile". Separate pages provide more detail on François Fournier, as well as his forgeries of Eagle and Yacht series issues. The latter pages also provide links to Fournier forgeries of other German Pacific colonies.

Fournier Forgeries of Eagle issues
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Fournier Forgeries of Yacht issues
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Forged overprints on genuine domestically used stamps

The stamps have domestic cancels, often with dates which are clearly impossible. Common to all forgeries is the weak and fuzzy execution of the overprint, as well as the fact that the angle is less steep than normal. These forgeries were made by overprinting genuinely cancelled German stamps. A seperate page provides more detail.

Forged overprints on genuine domestically used stamps
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Brussels Forgeries

In 1903 forged overprints of German colonial stamps were reported in the philatelic press. The the reconstructed trail of these stamps led via Madrid to Belgium. Among the distinguishing marks were that the overprint was that the capital letters were thinner and proportionately longer than among the originals. Also, the angle of the overprint is a bit lower than in the original. In 1906 a number of forgeries of German colonial stamps, particularly Eagles issues from the Marianas and the Marshall Islands (Marschall) hit the market. These were forged overprints on genuine German Eagle issue stamps. The were sold by a dealer in Cologne, who in turn claimed to have acquired them from Brussels. A seperate page provides more detail.


US forgeries
In the 1970 photo-lithographed stamps appeared in the USA, purporting to be stamps of the German colonies. The stamps can be easily recognised by their general dull and flat appearance. The colours are weak and the shading is often solid colour. The paper is unwatermarked and somewhat coarse. It is less stiff than that of origimal stamps. The forged stamps are perforated 13 (as opposed to perf. 14 for originals). While most items are uncancelled, some bear falsified postmarks as well. A seperate page provides more detail.


Hialeah forgeries
In 2000 and 2001 a spate of forgeries, mainly fraudulent overprints appeared for sale on the online auction houses e-bay and Yahoo. These were all 'G.R.I.' overprints on genuine unused, and occasioanly also used, stamps, executed with modern inks. The artwork is comparatively cude and the stmaps can be readily identfied. A seperate page provides a catalogue of these forgeries

Examples of Hialeah forgeries
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Mourning Labels and Advertising stamps
Not all stamps forgeries were produced as space fillers or to defraud. Some were made for political purposes, and some for as advertising gimmicks. Mourning Labels were made for sections of the German populace who deplored the loss of the colonies as part of the peace settlement after World War I. As part of the neo-colonial movement, labels were produced which expressed this sentiment. These labels existed for all lost colonies, as well as other territories which Germany had to surrender. Advertising labels for stamp companies mimick the "G.R.I." over-printed 1Mk red Yacht-type stamps and Samoa, New Guinea and the Marshall Islands, but carries the inscription "LUDER & BIANCHI" in the banner. It is also overprinted with a rubber stamp "John Bianchi." The perforation is poor compared to the originals. The item was produced in 1919 for a stamp dealership in Zürich (Switzerland). These otems are discussed in a separate chapter on Labels and Cinderellas.


Bibliographic citation for this document

Spennemann, Dirk H.R. (2002). Postage Stamps used in the German Marshall Islands. Forgeries and Fraudulent Overprints
URL: http:/

Dirk H.R. Spennemann, Institute of Land, Water and Society, Charles Sturt University, P.O.Box 789, Albury NSW 2640, Australia.

"Mourning label" Advertising label for the company Luder and Bianchi
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