The stamp market is like any other market. The consumer needs to know what he
is buying. Knowledge is key, and working with an honest and knowledgeable stamp dealer can
be a big help. It's like having and insurance policy on stamp purchases. A good stamp dealer will not only protect you from bad purchases, but he
will educate you at the same time. For more information on the detection of regummed and reperforated stamps,
see our page on that subject. Know something about the person
or stamp company you are buying from. Do they guarantee their stamps? Do they
stamps for one of the philatelic expertizing agencies? We
certainly do. Check our guarantee on our home page.
Our U.S. Stamp Stock
Our stock of U.S. (United States) stamps includes mainly mint stamps from Sc #230-893 plus air
mail stamps and other back-of-the-book issues. Most of our stamp stock is never hinged
(NH) with some lightly hinged (LH) stamps represented in the earlier issues. We do not
stock used stamps with a few exceptions. The centering and quality of our stamps is definitely on the high end,
with most stamps having VF, XF, or superb centering, but we also are increasing
our inventory of F-VF centered and lightly hinged (LH) stamps for collectors on a
budget. We also have an ever increasing stock of PSE
Information for collectors on U.S. coil stamps
Washington-Franklin Coils 101
I've been meaning to say something about
these mischievous coils for some time, but the task has seemed too daunting. So I will
take it one step at a time and cover it a little now and a little more later.
There are two major groups of
Washington-Franklin (W-F) coils: those made by flat press printing methods and those made
by the rotary press. The design dimensions of a flat press regular issue are 22 mm high by
18.5 - 19 mm wide. Those of a rotary press definitive issue are slightly wider or taller,
usually by 1/2 mm. This is the easiest way to differentiate the two groups. It is also
true that all W-F coils with size 8 1/2 or 12 perforations are also flat press issues.
Rotary coils were not made with these perforations. Only the perforated 10 coils come from
either flat or rotary press printings. The first W-F rotary coils were the Sc. #448-58
series and they had single line watermarks and were perforated 10. The second coil 10
rotary series was Sc. #486-97 which were unwatermarked unlike its predecessor. The good
news is that one never has to worry about a W-F rotary coil being manufactured from some
other variety of W-F issue, e.g., an imperforate, sheet stamp or booklet pane single. The
only variety they could be made from is an imperforate Sc. #459 which is a very expensive
stamp. There would be no economic incentive to do this. So there are no fake W-F rotary
coils to be concerned about. Collect them as singles or pairs--it makes no difference.
Either format could obtain a philatelic certificate of authenticity. The flat plate coils
are a different story. We will talk about them in a later newsletter.
Washington - Franklin Coils 201
Let's talk about flat press coils.
Flat press coil design dimensions are slightly shorter or narrower than their
rotary press cousins, usually by .5 mm. The flat press design dimensions
are 22 mm high by 18.5-19 mm wide. Flat press coils can be 'manufactured' or
faked in three possible ways: (1) by trimming off the perforations (either from
the sides or from top & bottom) of a sheet stamp that is normally perforated
on 3 or 4 sides; or (2) by reperforating two opposite sides of an imperforate
stamp; or (3) by trimming off the perforations on one side of a booklet pane
single. In this installment of Coils 201 we will limit our discussion to the
first method only, that of trimming the perforations off the opposite sides of a
sheet stamp, and will cover the other two methods in a later article. In the
table below, the first column of numbers is the catalogue number of the genuine
flat press coil and in the second column is the catalogue number of the sheet
stamp from which this coil can be manufactured or faked.
Let us consider the act of trimming the
perforations. Quite often this is done with a simple pair of scissors or with a
sharp knife and a straight edge ruler of some kind. As a result of this simple
fact there are a number of telltale clues that will indicate the fake coil from
the genuine one. The good news is that by trimming off the perforations, one
creates a 'coil' that is too short or too narrow relative to a genuine coil. A
genuine coil that is perforated vertically is usually 25 mm tall, plus or minus
.3 mm. A comparable fake coil is usually 24.25 mm (or less) tall. I have
seen genuine coils that are 24.5 mm tall but most are 24.75 to 25.0 mm. A
coil that is perforated horizontally should ideally be 21.5 mm wide, although
again it is common to see genuine coils that are 21.25 mm wide. Be very
suspicious of coils (perforated horizontally) that measure less than 21.0 mm
Let us talk a little bit about the
cut edges that result from trimming off the perforations. Keep in mind that a
flat press sheet of stamps has natural straight edges on two sides of the sheet
(usually 19 out of 100 for definitive issues). Therefore, if one starts with a
straight edged copy of a stamp, one would only have to trim off the perforations
on one side of the stamp, not two, to create the desired fake. So a fake coil
could possess one straight edge that is 'genuine' and one edge that was cut by
hand. Keep this in mind when examining the straight edges of a coil stamp. Quite
often the straight edge created by trimming off the perforations will have a
certain waviness to it. A genuine straight edge will not be wavy. The straight
edges of a genuine coil will also be parallel. Using good magnification, look
carefully for any signs of perforation holes that were not cut away completely.
Examine closely the straight edges of known genuine coils to get a feel for what
they should look like. Below we will discuss the other two methods of
creating fake flat press coils.
Washington-Franklin Coils 301
In previous newsletters we have done articles on the
Washington-Franklin coils, both the rotary press variety as well as the flat
press type, because of the ease with which certain varieties of these coils are
manufactured for pecuniary reasons to defraud collectors. We
also emphasized that the rotary press Washington-Franklin coils don't lend
themselves to fakery as do the flat press coils. This is because there are no
'cheaper' varieties of rotary stamps from which to manufacture phony rotary
coils. The only rotary imperforate stamp from which they could be made is Sc.
459, which is a very expensive stamp. That removes any economic gain from doing
The second article was specifically on flat press coils, and focused on
one of 3 possible ways to manufacture a phony coil. That method was by trimming
off the perforations (either from the sides or from top & bottom) of a sheet
stamp that is normally perforated on 3 or 4 sides.
This present article will discuss how flat press coils can be manufactured or
faked by reperforating two opposite sides of an imperforate stamp or stamps
(including imperforate coil stamps). The big advantage to making coils from
imperforate stock is that the faker can make them in the proper sizes (unlike
the method entailing the trimming of perforations from opposite sides of the
stamp). Remember that a genuine flat press vertically perforated coil stamp
usually measures 24.5 to 25.0 mm top to bottom. Likewise, a genuine horizontally
perforated coil stamp measures 21.0 to 21.5 mm from side to side. These
dimensions are easy to duplicate when starting with imperforate stock. The faker
need only cut the imperforate stamps into strips of the proper width or size,
and then create phony perforations between the stamp designs.
The following stamps can easily and economically be made from imperforate stock:
Sc #’s 348-55, 385-88, 390-93, 410-13, and 441-44. The imperforate stocks from
which they can be made are: 343-44, 346-47, 383-84, and 408-09.
To detect phony coils of this type one must verify the authenticity of the
perforations of the coil stamp(s). This is best done when examining a coil pair
rather than just a coil single. The following are characteristics to look for in
1. Gauge—Check the perforation gauge of the coil carefully using another stamp
of the same gauge known to have genuine perforations. Alternatively, use the
“Specialist” gauge. For perf 8.5 – use size 95, for perf 10 – use size 79, and
for perf 12 – use size 66.
2. Hole configuration—The size of the perf holes should match that of
perforation holes from known genuine stamps of the same gauge. Also, the hole
shape is also very important. Fake holes are usually perfectly round and cleanly
cut. Genuine holes are usually more elliptical and roughly cut with paper fibers
protruding into the perforation hole.
3. Hole alignment—genuine flat plate coils exhibit random perforation alignment
from row to row (not true of rotary issue coils). Also, the perforation rows
should be parallel, which means if one were to draw an imaginary line through
each row of perforations, those lines would be parallel.
4. Hole deformation—Genuine perforations usually have a deformation of the paper
immediately outside the perforation hole. This can be felt as a slight bump.
Fake perforations usually have no such deformation and feel perfectly flat.
5. Perforation tips—Most genuine coils have paper fibers protruding from the
perforation tips caused during stamp separation. Many fake coil perforation tips
appear clipped or filed.
These are just some of the characteristics to be aware of when examining the
perforations of coil stamps. If one can master the detection of fake
perforations on coil stamps, one can then apply this knowledge to detecting
reperforated sheet stamps as well. We hope this will raise the consciousness of
serious collectors of these scarce issues. Genuine Washington-Franklin coils are
truly desirable, and can be fun and challenging to collect, but one needs to
have done their homework first or purchase only those coils that are accompanied
with expertising certificates.
Croton Stamp Company
PO Box 242, Goshen, New York 10924
Office Hours: 9 am to 5 PM EST Mon-Sat.