Friday, September 24, 2010

Phony Philatelists

The MentalFloss.com website posts an interesting article, Phony Philatelists: Four Stories of Stamp Forgers, by Rob Lammle.

Rob writes,"Ever since the first postage stamp was issued by Great Britain in 1840, there have been stamp collectors. And for almost as long, there have been stamp forgers. Some create counterfeit stamps to get around paying the fee for mail delivery, while others sell their replicas to unsuspecting collectors for quite a bit of cash. Here are the stories of four forgers who were surprisingly adept at faking their way through the world of postage stamps."

The "four forgers" in the article are Jean de Sperati, Madame Joseph, Fran├žois Fournier, and the U.S. Government.

According to the article, "...the U.S. Military, the Office of Strategic Services (O.S.S.), kicked off a propaganda campaign in 1941 that it called Operation Cornflakes. The plan was to print thousands of anti-Nazi pamphlets, put them in envelopes addressed to German citizens, and then bomb German mail trains. Along with the munitions, the Allied planes would also drop mailbags filled with these envelopes. When the debris of the destroyed train was cleaned up, the Germans would gather up any intact mailbags and deliver the letters, unknowingly delivering the propaganda mail as well."

It goes on to say, "But of course to get the mail delivered, it had to have valid, German postage. Secretly buying thousands of German stamps would not only be difficult, but would also contribute to the efficiency and economy of the German government, something the Allies were obviously not interested in doing. So they made fake stamps, most famously one nicknamed the Hitler Skull Stamp."

Shown above, one of the forged stamps printed by the U.S. Government.

To read the entire article, click here.

For more on Operation Cornflakes and the Hitler Skull Stamps, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM