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Croton Stamp Co. has a great stock of pre-1940 era United States stamps for collectors. Our US postage stamp stock is super clean with many exceptional and difficult to find stamps. Send us your wantlist and we will email you price quotes, available condition, and scans if requested.

Key Benefits:

[Bullet] U.S. postage stamps are guaranteed genuine in all respects.

[Bullet] Accurate centering descriptions consistent with Scott Stamp Catalogue

[Bullet] Large inventory of difficult to find pre-1940 US postage stamps competitively priced, especially the inexpensive XF NH stamps not included in most stamp auction catalogues

[Bullet] Many of our expensive stamps come with P.F. or PSE expertizing certificates.


Stamp Education

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 expertise 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 graded stamps.


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. 


Genuine Coil

Made From

348 331





352 331
353 332
354 334
355 335
356 338
385 374
386 375
387 374
388 375
389 376
441 424
442 425
443 424
444 425
445 426
446 427
447 428


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 wide.

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 so.

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 genuine perforations:

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
Email: croton@warwick.net

Office Hours: 9 am to 5 PM EST Mon-Sat.