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Spiro forgeries

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Note: on my website many of the pictures can not be seen! They are of course present in the catalogue;
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The Spiro brothers made large numbers of forgeries from 1864 to about 1880.
In the book 'How to detect forged stamps' by Thomas Dalston (1865) the following text can be found:
"The principal persons who forge stamps reside on the Continent. Spiro Brothers of Hamburg, have produced the most, and some of them are exceedingly well executed, amongst which are the Bergedorf, British Guiana, Finland, Geneva, Greece, Hamburg, Liberia, Old Lubeck, New Granada, Nicaragua, Pony Express, Schleswig, Saxony, Western Australia, and many others."

The Spiro brothers had their own lithographic printing firm in Hamburg (Germany). If I'm well informed this firm was founded in 1825 by Wilhelm Israel Spiro and his sons, the brothers Hirsch and Philip, joined in 1829 and 1840 respectively. Over the years about 500 different forgeries were made. These forgeries must be the most numerous of all forgeries and can be found in almost every old collection. They were normally printed in sheets of 25 as in the following example:

(A sheet of 25 Spiro cancelled Goldcoast forgeries, reduced sizes)

The stamps were never gummed, but can be found mostly cancelled. The typical 'Spiro cancels' are often the easiest way to recognize these forgeries. The perforation is often defective.

The Spiro Brothers denied themselves making any forgeries as can be read in the 'Stamp Collectors Magazine' (1st November 1864, page 176):
To the editor of the 'STAMP-COLLECTOR'S MAGAZINE.'
Sir, - Your number 21 contains an article of Mr. Edward L.Pemberton's, naming us as manufactureres of stamp forgeries or fac-similes. Returning our best thanks to the author for the recommendation he gives to our firm, we will not fail to correct an error in his article, by stating that we are only stamp dealers, and that no one of the copies named in his list is produced by us; though all of them, the Java stamp only excepted, are named in our catalogue of fac-similes. May it, for example, be told here, that the Hamburg stamps are manufactured in England, where we have bought them.
Hoping you will take notice of this declaration in your next number,
We remain, sir, yours obediently,

The 'Java' stamp mentioned above is probably the first stamp of Netherlands Indies.

Just a few examples of Spiro forgeries (the list is much longer, I have only given here the stamps that I have seen):

Antigua: 1862, Queen Victoria; 1 p red and 6 p green (described in The Spud Papers XXXV)

Spiro forgery! Forgery!
(Spiro forgeries)

(Left Spiro forgery, right genuine stamp)

Bahamas: 1859, Queen Victoria 'Interinsular postage'; 1 p
  1861 Queen Victoria 'Bahamas postage'; 4 p, 6 p
  1862, Queen Victoria 'Bahamas'; 1 Sh


Brazil: 1843, Number; 30 r, 60 r and 90 r (described in The Spud Papers LXI)


British Guiana: 1860, Sailing ship; 1 c black , 2 c orange, 4 c blue, 8 c red, 12 c lilac, 28 c green (described in The Spud Papers XIV)

Forgery! Note the strange cancel!


Cape of Good Hope: 1853, Triangular design; 1 p red

Colombia: 1865, Arms; 1 P red

Cuba: 1873, King; 12 1/2 c, 50 c and 1 P

Danish West Indies: 1874, value; 4 c blue and brown, 7 c lilac and yellow, 14 c lilac and green

Spiro forgery! 6 p green
(Left Spiro forgery, right genuine stamp)

Dominica: 1874, Queen Victoria; 1 p violet, 6 p green and 1 Sh lilac


Egypt: 1867 Sphinx and pyramid All values
  1872 Sphinx and pyramid I've only seen 1 Pi and 2 Pi (probably all seven values exist)

Image obtained from forgery site of Bill Claghorn
(left Spiro forgery, right genuine)

Goldcoast: 1875 issue; 1 p blue, 4 p lilac and 6 p orange


Greece: 1861, Head of Hermes; 1 l brown, 2 l brown, 5 l green, 10 l yellow, 20 l blue, 40 l red, 40 l purple, 80 l red



Finland: 1850, :Lion; 4 k blue and 10 k red


Hawai: 1853   5 c blue, 13 c red
  1859   All values and bogus value of 13 c
  1861   2 c red
  1878, Various famous persons; 1 c violet, 2 c red, 5 c blue, 6 c green, 12 c lilac, 18 c brown

Hamburg, private issues (Boten issues), part 1 and part 2

(Spiro forgeries of the 'C.Hamer stamps)

This forgery of the 'C.Hamer' institute has only 30 quite large pearls around the central circle (should be 35) and no stop behind the word 'BOTEN' (there should be a stop). The dividing line of the 1/2 is more horizontal than in the genuine stamps. I have seen this forgery in the colours: black on grey, black on yellow (shades), black on lilac, black on violet, black on green and black on blue.

(Spiro forgery of the 'H.Scheerenbeck' castle issue)

In these Spiro forgeries, there are only 38 points in the central ellipse (should be 39). There are two very thick six-rayed stars at both side (should be eight-rayed). I have seen the following colours of these forgeries: black on yellow (shades), black on lilac (shades), black on green, black on blue, black on violet (shades) and black on grey.

(Spiro forgeries of the 'H.Scheerenbeck' number issue)

(Spiro forgeries of the W.Krantz messenger stamps, they also exist in bogus colours)

1  S black, forgery!
(Th. Lafrenz Spiro forgeries, the stars at both sides are much too larger, compared to the genuine stamps)

The 1 Sch and 2 Sch forgeries of W.Krantz sitting Queen stamps made by Spiro are different from each other in several aspects. In both values the Queen's head almost touches the label above it. In most cases the second 'A' of 'HAMONIA' has a downwards line at the left hand side. The head and neck of the Queen is much thicker than in the genuine stamps.

1 gr lilac and black, forgery 6 p blue and black, forgery
(Spiro forgeries of the 'Charles van Diemen' stamps)



The following forgeries and colour shades are known to me: 2 c brown, 2 c brown imperforate, 4 c greenish grey, 6 c grey , 8 c orange, 8 c brownish orange, 12 c blue, 12 c pale blue, 12 c brown, 16 c brownish yellow, 15 pale brownish yellow, 18c greyish lilac, 18 c grey, 18 c brownish lilac, 24 c green, 30 c vermillion, 30 c mauve, 30 c slate, 48 c rose, 48 c deep rose, 96 c olive grey and the surcharges 16 c on 18 c grey and 28 c on 30 c slate.

Japan: 1873, ; 1/2 s grey, 2 s yellow, 4 s red, 10 s green, 20 s blue, 30 s grey
  1851, Birds; 15 s lilac, 45 s red


Liberia: 1860, Sitting lady; 12 c blue (perf), 24 c green (perf) and 6 c red (perf) (described in The Spud Papers II)


Mexico: 1872, Hidalgo I have seen 50 c yellow, but probably the whole set exists


Modena: 1859, Tassa Gazette; 10 c black


Netherlands Indies: 1864, King William III; 10 c red

Spiro forgery?

Newfoundland: 1857, Triangle; 3 p green
  1866, Fish; 2 c green
  1866, Seal; 5 c brown
  1866, Prince of Wales; 10 c black
  1866, Ship; 13 c orange
  1866, Queen Victoria; 24 c blue
  1869, Prince of Wales; 1 c lilac
  1870-73, Queen Victoria; 3 c red, 3 c blue, 6 c red


Nevis: 1861, Arms of the colony; 1 p red, 1 Sh green

New Brunswick: 1860, Queen Victoria; 2 c, 5 c and 10 c
  1860, Prince of Wales; 17 c
  1860, Ship 12 1/2 c

New Caledonia: 1850, Triquera issue; 10 c grey


Nicaragua: 1862, Mountain view; 2 c blue (perf) and 5 c black (perf) (described in the Spud Papers XIII)

(Reduced sizes)

Nova Scotia: 1851, Queen Victoria; 1 p
  1851, Arms; 3 p, 6 p
  1860, Queen Victoria; All values (6)


(A full sheet of Spiro forgeries, reduced size)

Orange Free State: 1868, Tree; 1 p brown, 6 p red, 4 p greyish (instead of blue), and 1 Sh orange.


Parma: 1852, Arms; 5 c black on yellow, 10 c black, 15 c red, 25 c black, 40 c black on blue

San Tomas La Guaira: 1864, 1/2 r blue, 2 r orange

Saxony: 1850, 'Sachsendreier'; 3 p red (described in 'The Spud Papers XXX')


Schleswig Holstein: 1850, Arms (with thread); 1 Sh blue and 2 Sh red


Sicily: 1859, King; 1/2 g orange, 1 g olive, 2 g blue, 5 g red, 10 g blue

Sierra Leone: 1872, Queen Victoria; 1/2 p brown, 1 p red, 1 1/2 p lilac, 2 p lilac 3 p yellow, 4 p blue 1 Sh green


Spain: 1850, Queen Isabella; 6 c, 5 r
  1861, Queen Isabella; 6 c

Forgery! Spiro forgery Spiro forgery!

Straits Settlements: 1868, Queen Victoria; 2 c brown, 4 c red, 6 c violet, 8 c orange, 12 c blue, 24 c green, 30 c lilac, 32 c red and 96 c grey


St Lucia: 1860, Queen Victoria;

I have seen forgeries in the colours: lilac, blue, black, green and red

Spiro forgery Genuine stamp, image obtained thanks to Peter Elias
(Left Spiro forgery, right genuine stamp

St Vincent: 1861, Queen Victoria;

1 p black, 1 p red, 4 p orange, 6 p green, 1 Sh blue, 1 Sh grey

Suez Canal: 1868, Ship; 1 c, 5, 20 c and 40 c (whole serie)


Tuscany: 1851, Lion; 1 q black, 1 c red, 2 c blue, 4 c green, 6 c blue
  1857, Arms of Savoy; 1 c lilac, 5 c green, 10 c brown, 20 c blue, 40 c red, 80 c red


Venezuela: 1859, Arms; All values (3)
  1863, Eagle; 1/2 c, 1 c, 1/2 r, 1 r and 2 r
  1865, Arms in an octagonal frame; All values (5)

The forgeries of the 1863 issue of Venezuela are described in 'The Spud Paper XII'.


Western Australia: 1860, Swan; 1 p black, 1 p red (perf), 2 p blue (perf), 6 p green and 6 p violet (described in The Spud Papers XXXVII)


Virgin Islands: 1866, Various images of St.Ursula;

1 p green, 4 p brown, 6 p red, 1 Sh red and black (two types)


Copyright by Evert Klaseboer