Fake die proofs exposed at seminar

By Diana Revelins

A recent alert was issued to hobbyists, dealers, and auction firms by the Vincent Graves Greene Philatelic Research Foundation (VGG) in Toronto about a variety of bogus proof images of Canadian stamps being sold on eBay and Facebook Marketplace.

The VGG’s Ted Nixon, head of the foundation’s expertizing committee, along with foundation President Garfield Portch, gave a presentation at the National Postage Stamp and Coin Show where they talked about the values that are being forged, and how people can spot the differences between what is real and what is fake. To the delight of the audience, they passed around a three-ring binder with samples of about 30 of the fraudulent items.

“What we’re talking about here is essentially die proofs of the issued stamps and the essays, predominantly from the 1897–98 ‘Maple Leaf’ and ‘Numeral’ issues of Canada (the 10-cent ‘Maple Leaf’ die and the 20-cent ‘Numeral’). That’s what most of them are, but there’s more than that,” Nixon warned. “They’re also doing the three-penny beaver (there’s a block of them), the New Brunswick composite die, the Queen Victoria, and the Bradbury Wilkinson series of essays — they’ve done those as well. Other items that have surfaced are four-cent, 15-cent, and 50-cent ‘Numeral’ essays — values that were never issued!  These are proof and essay images, they are not gummed, perforated stamps.”

He continued to explain the image of the die of the stamp is printed just on a piece of paper — there’s no perforating or gumming going on, fooling some people into thinking these are rare items. “Past forgeries done on laser jet or dot-matrix printers were easy to spot when looking through a magnifying glass. These are different.”

Nixon and Portch said the consensus is that whoever created the forgeries, likely used images from an auction website — perhaps one of the more recent auctions that had some of the real, genuine dies in it, like the Danny Cantor sale at Sparks Auctions last year. For sale on the Internet, they seem to be emanating, they say, to a large extent, from a site in Quebec on Facebook Marketplace.

“That’s why we’re doing this today — to get the awareness out there that this process exists,” Nixon warns, “and it’s good enough to be dangerous! We hadn’t seen this process on forgeries before — we were used to seeing forgeries done with laser jet printers or dot matrix printers. This wasn’t obvious to us.”

So how are these new forgeries done?

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