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William E. SKINNER (Stamp forger)

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William E. Skinner was a stamp forger closely associated with the Boston gang of Samuel Allan Taylor. He was described as a 'dangerous and unprincipled swindler and blackmailer' (source: V.E.Tyler). Skinner seems to have edited a journal "The Agassiz Association Journal (Published Monthly in the Interests of Amateur Naturalists, Students and Collectors)".

He advertises in the Toronto Philatelic Journal (Vol I, No. 1, March 1885, page 3) with

VENTRILOQUISM easily learned by any boy or man. Large book of instructions and 10 wizard tricks, secret apparatus, etc., 20 cents. W.E . SKINNER & Co., Lynn, Mass.

This got him into trouble since he apparently did not pay for the advertisment according to the following text in the Toronto Philatelic Journal (Vol I, no 8, October 1885, page 34):

W. E. Skinner & Co., Lynn, Mass.-
We warn publishers and others to have no dealings with this party, as they are frauds of the blackest type. In February last they wrote, stating that they would like to advertise with us, and would pay for same on receipt of copy containing their "ad.," we inserted their "ad." and copies were duly mailed, and athough we wrote them several times in reference to the matter, they refused to reply. In September we wrote them a postal, stating that we would expose them unless they settled their account at once. Instead of settling their account, they wrote us as follows:

Oct. 1, 1885. 1.
Dear sir-We refuse to pay on grounds that you had no orders from us to insert ad. If you will produce the order we will remit. But should you expose without right, we will have you promptly arrested for libel, as we did Emory, of Fitchburg, who has now quit the business in disgust. Sue if you like. W. E. Skinner & Co.

Have nothing to do with this Skinner if you do not want to be skinned.

This is followed by a reply of W.K.Jewett in The Toronto Philatelic Journal of November 1885 (Vol.I, no 9):

SIR- The October No. of your interesting paper is to hand, and I am glad to see it again under the old management. I note in your columns a letter from W. E. Skinner, of Lynn, Mass., containing some statements which are calculated to mislead, as they are utterly without foundation and made with malicious intent. This party states that he had Mr. Emory, of this city, arrested for libel. It gives me great pleasure to be able to nail this as a deliberate falsehood as I am fully acquainted with all the facts of the case. Mr. Emory, in his paper, the New England Philatelist, exposed Skinner as a dealer in counterfeit stamps. Not long afterward a letter arrived from Skinner in which he threatened, unless a public retraction of the charges was made, to sue Mr. Emory for $1,000 damages in the Superior Court of Massachusetts. Also some bluster about " my attorneys" was included in this amiable epistle. Far from being terrified, Mr. Emory replied backing up his statements and defying Skinner to bring the case into court. About this time I saw Skinner in Boston and he assured me that he bore no ill-will. He backed right down and wrote Mr. Emory in a most peaceable and wanted him to exchange an advertisement with his paper. Now Skinner tells behind his back how he "shut up Emory, of Fitchburg," or how he had him arrested. Skinner is a contemptible slanderer, and his statements in this connection are black lies. One word as to the clause that Mr. Emory has left the business in disgust. The gentleman has retired from the stamp trade for the time being, as he is at present engaged in the prosecution of his studies. Skinner is hardly likely to arrest you as he is only a boy.
Fitchburg, Mass., Oct. 24.

'Philatelic Forgers, their Lives and Works' by V.E.Tyler.
Toronto Philatelic Journal

Copyright by Evert Klaseboer