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Jean de SPERATI FORGERIES

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Jean de Sperati (or Giovanni Desperati) is probably the most dangerous forger of stamps, some even call him the 'Rubens of philately'. He was born in Pisa, Italy in 1884, but lived most of his life in France. He died in 1957. He not only forged many stamps, but also die proofs, esays etc. Most of his forgeries are very deceptive and can only be distinguished in microscopic details from genuine stamps. His forgeries were so good, that even experts thought that they were genuine. He often used the technique of bleaching the design of a genuine stamp and then printing the design of a valuable one on this bleached stamp. In this way, the paper, watermark, perforation and cancel were genuine! Using a special chemical process, he managed to make the cancel porous, so it appeared as if the newly printed design was under the cancel! Sperati forgeries are not very common and are quite valuable nowadays.

He first started making forgeries in 1910. However, he seems to have learned his 'skills' from his mother (the widow Maria de Sperati) and two elder brothers (Massimo and Mariano). They operated under the name 'Borsa Filatelica Toscana', postbox 16 in Lucca (Italy) and offered 'cheap deals' which later turned out to be forgeries. Jean then moved to Turin: Via dei Fiori 20, while his mother and two older brothers moved to Pisa in the Via S.Paola a Ripa d'Arno 3. Mariano seemed to have been the driving force at this moment of time. A telegram, send by Jean warned for a police search and the mother and two sons managed to flee. When the police forcefully entered the house, they found more than two truck loads of forgeries, photographic equipment, printing plates (copper and steel), printing presses and white paper. Source: Senf's Illustriertes Briefmarken Journal 1909 p. 280. Senf notes 'Hoffentlich ist den Falschern damit das Handwerk gelegt' (hopefully this forces the forgers to stop), which turned out to be false.

Jean de Sperati ran into trouble when some forgeries were seized by the French customs in 1943, the customs accused him of exporting capital. He then proved the court that they were forgeries, by making another set of the same forgeries.

In 1953 the British Philatelic Association decided bought his forgeries and printing blocks etc. This association made several books containing the 'reproductions' with explanations. On the reverse 'Sperati Reproduction' was handstamped (so-called BPA handstamp) as well as the number of the Sperati book.

566 forged stamps from more than 100 countries are known to have been forged by Sperati. He is known to show a special interest for the cantonal stamps of Switzerland and Spain.

Richard Frajola has provided high resolution pictures of many of the Sperati forgeries on: http://www.seymourfamily.com/rfrajola/Sperati/speratiindex.htm, he calls it "an ongoing project that will show Sperati forgeries".

Literature:

The Work Jean de Sperati, parts I, II and III, (text, plates and basic tests)
The Work of Jean de Sperati II — including Previously Unlisted Forgeries by Lowe & Walske; 2001; 218 pp. Contains information about new Sperati forgeries.
La Philatelie sans Experts by Jean de Sperati; 1946; 124 pp.
Senf's Illustriertes Briefmarken Journal 1909 p. 280.


Examples of some of the countries he made forgeries from (list not complete, a black '*' indicates that pictures of the stamp can be found on Frajola's website). A red '*' indicates that the forgery can be found in this catalogue:

Austria Newspaper stamps, 1851 red stamp*, yellow stamp
Australia: 1912 £2 Kangaroo*
Baden 1862 18 kr**, 30 kr
Bavaria 1849 1 k black* (also tete-beche*)
Belgium 1869 5 Fr*
Brazil 1843 60 r*
Bremen 1855 3 g black on blue*, 7 g black on yellow*
Bremen 1861 5 sgr green*
Brunswick 1852 2 sgr blue*, 3 sgr red*
Buenos Aires 1858 (Steamship) Dos (2)
Ceylon 1885 'Postage and Revenue FIVE CENTS' on 4 c red and 24 c brown*
Colombia 1861 1 p
Finland 1866 1 M*
France 1849 10 c (unused and used), 1 Fr (used)
France 1853 20 c (tete-beche*), 1 Fr* (used, also tete-beche*)
Geneve Small eagle 5 c*
Gibraltar 1866 1 Sh** (overprint on Bermuda stamp)
Gibraltar 1886 1 Sh yellow**
Gold Coast 1898 20 Sh green and red*
Great Britain 1867 2 Sh*
Greece large Hermes head 1 l*
Hanover 1859 3 p green*
Hanover 1859 10 g*
Hanover 1860 1/2 g* (horn)
Hawaii numerals 1859 1 c, 2 c*
Hongkong 96 c* (Queen Victoria)
Lagos 1874 2 Sh 6 p olive*, 5 Sh blue*, 10 Sh brown*
Lubeck 2 s* (misprint, inscription 'zwei ein halb')
Malta 1860 1/2 p orange*
Mauritius 1879 13 c black*
Mecklenburg Schwerin 1856 5 s*
Modena 1853 9 c, 1859 10 c
Montserrat 1880 4 p*
Neapolitan Provinces 1861 2 g
Naples 1860 'cross' 1/2 t
Neuchatel (Switzerland) 5 c*
Newfoundland 1857 arms, 4 p**, 6 p**, 6 1/2 p**, 1 Sh**
Oldenburg 1852 1/3 sgr*
Oldenburg 1859 1/3 g**, 2 g** and 3 g*
Oldenburg 1861 1/4 g*, 1/3 g**, 1/2 g*, 1 g*, 2 g** and 3 g**
Papua 1901 2 sh 6 p*
Parma 1859 5c, 40 c, 80 c*
Philippines 1863 1 r violet
Roman States 50 b (at least two types) and 1 Sc
Sardinia 1851 5 c*, 40 c*
Sardinia 1855 5 c* (inverted head), 10 c* (inverted head), 20 c (inverted head) and 80 c (inverted head)
Saxony 1850 3 p*
Saxony 1855 10 ng (2 types)*(Type A)*(Type A)
Sicily 1/2 g*, 5 g*, 10 g*, 20 g* and 50 g*
Sierra Leone 1862 6 p* (imperforate)
Spain 1850 5 r, 6 r and 10 r
Spain 1851 2 r, 5 r and 10 r
Spain 1852 2 r and 6 r
Spain 1853 1 c, 3 c, 12 c and 2 r
Spain 1860 19 c
Spain 1865 1 r (perforated)
Spain 1872 4 P and 10 P
Sweden 1855 3 sk*, 24 sk*
Sweden 1862 (lion) 17 o*
Switzerland 2 1/2 rp* (Poste Locale)
Turkey 1886 25 Pi
Tuscany (lion) 1 s yellow*, 2 s brown*
Uruguay 1856 60 c (unused* or pencancel*), 80 c (pencancel or unused*), 1 r (unused* or pencancel*)
Uruguay 1858 120 c*, 180 c*, 240 c*
Uruguay 1860 80 c (unused* or used*), 100 c*, 120 c (unused* or used*), 180 c*, 240 c*
United States 1847 10 c*
United States 1845 New York postmaster provisional 5 c*
United States Providence local issue 5 c*
United States Confederate States 10 c red*, 10 c blue*
Vancouver Island 1865 5 c imperforate**, 10 c imperforate*
Vaud (Switzerland) 4 c*, 5 c*
Winterthur (Switzerland) 2 1/2 r*
Wurttemberg 1851 18 k*
Wurttemberg 1868 2 Mk yellow*
Zurich 4 and 6 rp (all 5 types)


Copyright by Evert Klaseboer

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