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Note: on my website many of the pictures can not be seen! They are of course present in the cd's;
contact me if you want to purchase them:

I would like to thank Robert J.Wilson for letting me use some of the information of his homepage http://www.island.net/~rjbw/SuezCanal.html

1868 Suez Canal Company, inscription 'CANAL MARITIME DE SUEZ', ship

20 c blue, genuine 20 c blue, genuine 40 c red, genuine

  1 c black
  5 c green
  20 c blue
  40 c red

The company transported mail between Port Said (Egypt) and Suez between 1859 and 1867. In 1868 these stamps were issued, but they have not been used much (however forged cancels exists a lot!). The stamps are lithographed in sheets of 12x10 stamps. The sheet shows the watermark "LA+.-F" (La Croix Freres), but only a few stamps bear a portion of this watermark. The Suez Canal Company stamps were only in use for 38 or 39 days. Used genuine stamps with valid cancellations are rare. Only a few genuine letters (10-20?) with these stamps are known.

There exist 120 (!) different types of the 20 c stamp. There are only 4 types of the 1 c, 5 c and 40 c. These last 3 values can be plated (see http://www.island.net/~rjbw/SuezCanal.html for more details)

(Genuine, position 17)

Value of the stamps

vc = very common
c  = common
*  = not so common
** = uncommon
*** = very uncommon
R   = rare
RR  = very rare
RRR = extremely rare
1 c***RRR Quantity issued: 11820
5 c***RRRQuantity issued: 61235
20 c**RRRQuantity issued: 205665
40 c***RRRQuantity issued: 20860

Plating Characteristics

(This information came from the Barefoot book and I have copied it from R.J.Wilson's site).

***************************ONE CENT***************************

Dot over the 'S' of "SUEZ". Low dot before the 'C' of"CANAL". Two dots over second 'A' of "CANAL"Small line after 'E' of "DE". Spike protruding from the 'L' of "CANAL"Spike protruding into 'D' of "DE". Damaged crossbar in first 'A' of "CANAL"High dot before the 'C' of "CANAL". Broadened centre line of 'E' in "MARITIME"

FIVE CENTS***************************

Two lines, in front of and into the 'R' of "MARITIME". Dot on centre line of 'E' of "MARITIME". (Click on above image for example)Break in line going up to aft-mast on ship.Dot on downward line of second 'A' and on right-most serif of 'L' in "CANAL". High dot before 'D' of "DE" (Click on above stamp for example)Diagonal line from right-most serif of 'N' of "CANAL". Dot in horizontal line under 'P' OF "POSTES".

FORTY CENTS***************************

Broken crossbar in 'T' OF "MARITIME". Long 'T' in "POSTES".Dot above 'E' of "SUEZ" and between the lines below the 'E' of "MARITIME". Dot between ropes at front of ship.Thickened 'D' in "DE". Broken 'T' in "POSTES". broken line up to aft-mast on ship.Thickened vertical in 'E' of "SUEZ".



ATTENTION: most of the stamps found in collections are forgeries! This must be one of the most forged areas in philately. More than 20 different forgeries seem to exist of these stamps!

How to detect the forgeries? Firstly we can check the space between 'POSTES' and the oval. On most forgeries, the shading is vertical lines only. The real issues have cross-hatching:

(Genuine stamp with cross-hatching)

Gum at the back is almost always cracked, forgeries don't have this, they always almost have smooth white gum (or no gum at all):

(Backside of a genuine 20 c, reduced size)

Reprint - forgeries also exist and are very dangerous. They were made by Saatjian, a dealer in Paris, who obtained the genuine stone for the red 40 c value around 1907. He modified this 40c to print the 1c, 5c and 20c values. These 'reprints' do have the cross-hatching. Any 1 c or 5 c stamp that shows the plating characteristics of the 40c, is a reprint. These forgeries seems to have the wrong sort of gum). Example of a Saatjian reprint-forgery:

(A Saatjian forgery, it has the characteristics of the 40 c; type 'D': thickened vertical in 'E' of "SUEZ", the cancel is bogus)

I found the following information at http://www.geocities.com/dr_k_fleming/suez.htm:

If your examples show any of the following characteristics, they are forgeries.

  Perforated (the originals were imperforated) 
  No cross hatching above POSTES 
  smooth, colourless gum (a forgery if not a regummed stamp) 
  thin, hard paper 
  tan paper 
  shiny ink (genuine stamps are matt) 
  corner guide lines outside the design 
  continuous guidelines between the stamps 
  flat tops to the letters A 
  any number of rays other than 12 in the star-like ornaments 
  smoke from the funnel touches the oval frame 
  circular cancellation of any kind (other than the Suez grid) 

(The deck of a genuine stamp, image from R.J. Wilson)

Be awared of forged covers (even with genuine stamps!). Many have a forged 5129 cancel; others are more "fanciful." Some are on covers with the return address of the Suez Canal company. Addresses can be fictitious. There are only 21 known authentic covers.

The above stamps are Fournier forgeries. There is an extra dot (passenger) just before the last mast. There is no passenger on the front deck (there should be one). The waves are much too 'neat' compared to the genuine stamps. Between 'DE SUEZ' and 'POSTES' are only vertical lines. There are guidelines between the forgeries (the genuine stamps never have guidelines). Note the bogus cancels on the last stamps. Fournier sold two different kinds of forgeries in his 1914 pricelist, a 1 c '1st choice' stamp for 1 Swiss Franc and all 4 values (2nd choice) for 1 Swiss Franc.

There is an extra dot (passenger) just before the last mast in the above forgeries. Between 'DE SUEZ' and 'POSTES' are only vertical lines.

In the above two forgeries, there is nobody on deck! Moreover the smoke touches the oval and between 'DE SUEZ' and 'POSTES' are only vertical lines. Note that the bow is different from the genuine stamps as well (it is pointing too much upwards).

The forgeries above resemble the 1 cents forgeries just described, but now people are added on deck. Note that again the bow is different from the genuine stamps as in the above forgeries. The first forgery has a forged '5129' cancel.

I've been told that the above stamps are Spiro forgeries. Spiro forgeries can in general be recognized very easily by their 'strange' cancels (see also at the end of this page under cancellations).

The above forgery has guidenlines outside the design.

With 'Falsch' overprint

I think the above forgeries are made by Engelhardt Fohl. A picture of these forgeries can be found in 'Philatelic forgers, their lives and works' by Varro E. Tyler. They are sometimes overprinted with 'Falsch' (= 'forged' in German), since they were distributed with some stamp journals after a discovery of a large stock.

The above stamps also have the guidelines (except the first one), also note the very narrow 'C' in 'CANAL'.

(other forgeries)

(A forgery in the wrong colour: 1 c green!)

I have my strong doubts about the following stamps:

The paper of the last stamp seems to be very coloured, I therefore think it is a forgery.


Genuine cancels are manuscript or the french '5105' with dots (Suez) or the french '5129' with dots (Port Said). A very clear genuine cancel:

Image obtained from Shreves Philatelic Galeries Auction.

At least 35 bogus ones are known, most of which are found only on forgeries. "The only dangerous ones are imitations of the French 5129 in a grid of dots."

Could the next stamps be forged cancels on genuine stamps?

(Forged cancels on genuine stamps?)

Other forged cancels:

(this cancel always seems to have the same date 'PORT SAID 2-1-14 2-4-5 PORT SAID' in a circle)

Reduced sizes:


Typical Spiro cancels:

Literature and websites


Unfortunately I haven't been able to read any of the above books or articles.


Copyright by Evert Klaseboer

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