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SUEZ CANAL COMPANY, Forgeries, part 1

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Genuine stamps

20 c blue, genuine 40 c red, genuine



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! Most forgeries require careful comparison with a genuine stamp, but with a little practise, most forgeries can be easily detected. For more forgeries: Suez Canal Company, forgeries part 2.

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)

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.
For example, the forger Moustafe Ibrahim Bey is know to have made forged letters (around 1925). The Ebay seller Saul50 is also producing 'letters' (2015).


Saatjian forgeries

Reprint - forgeries also exist and are very dangerous. They were made by Saatjian, a dealer in Paris of Armenian origins, who obtained the genuine stone for the red 40 c value around 1907, in an auction for 80 Francs, after this stone had gone missing from the Suez Canal Company's archives (also in Paris) and ended up in the collection of the Paris stamp dealer Erard-Leroy d'Etiolles. Saatjian 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 (shiney-smooth instead of brownish-crackled). As the genuine stamps, the Saatjian forgeries do not have guidelines around the stamps.
Strictly spoken, only the 40 c are true (though illegal) reprints since the original plates were used. The other values should be considered as forgeries.

Saatjian also made a second printing on brownish paper, usually with bogus cancels, for example '..MO PORT-SAID IH..', 'PORT SAID 2-1-14 2-4-5 PORT SAID', 'COLONIES', etc. These cancels might have been applied by a certain Mr. M.S. from Belgium (according to the Peter Bottrill collection)
Examples of a Saatjian reprint-forgeries:

The 1 c Saatjian forgeries all exhibit the characteristics of the first type of the 40 c (type A): Broken crossbar in 'T' OF "MARITIME" and long 'T' in "POSTES". Eight sub-types can be distinguished. Furthermore the 'C' of 'CANAL' has no tail:

With dot behind 'SUEZ'
Saatjian forgery of the 1 c, note that these forgeries always have a 'hole' in the funnel. The first forgery has in addition a ragged upper circle in the lower left hand value tablet (subtype 3 of the 8 subtypes). Also note the appearance of a dot behind 'SUEZ' in some copies (in type 2 of the 8 subtypes).

Subtype 6 of the 1 c, the lower rope connecting the central to the front mast has a few spurs in it.

Subtype 7, a dot above the upper frameline(?)

Subtypes 1-2, 5-6 and 1-2 of the 1 c value. Subtype 5 has a tiny dot above the left star ornament.

Most likely a Saatjian reprint as well.

5 c Saatjian reprints; subtypes 2 (smudges below 'DE") and 6 (break in the ellipse above to the right of 'Z' of 'SUEZ').

20 c with transfer type A(?) characteristics. I've noticed that this type always(?) has a large top serif on top of the 'C' of 'CANAL'.

20 c with transfer type B characteristics; Dot between ropes at front of ship.

20 c with transfer type C characteristics; broken T of POSTES and broken line up to aft-mast on ship.

A Saatjian forgery, it has the characteristics of the 40 c; type 'D': thickened vertical in 'E' of "SUEZ", the cancel is bogus. Note the white blotch on the middle of the ship (torpedo) that I have seen on other Saatjian forgeries and is a characteristic of this type. Also the two o'clock ray of the right hand star is missing.

Block of 6 stamps, three type C transfer types (left column); one type D (upper right) and 2 type A.

A strip of four 40 c Saatjian forgeries.

Forged cancels often found on Saatjian forgeries: "COLONIES", "PORT SAID 2-1-14 2-4-5 PORT SAID", parallel lines forming an ellipse.

These forgeries also exist pasted on pieces of paper. Here all 4 of them with "PORT SAID 2-1-14 2-4-5 PORT SAID" cancels.

For more information see also: http://www.philatoforge.co.uk/CSSuezCanalCompany1868_Forgeries_Forgery08.html.




Kamigata forgeries:

The smoke goes all the way to the containing ellipse. The ship is considerably different when compared to a genuine stamp. The vertical background lines are too coarse when compared to a genuine stamp. The 'M' and 'R' of 'MARITIME' are different from the genuine stamps. It often appears with two cancels, a 5-ring concentric ring cancel, probably initially applied by Kamigata (similar to his forged cancels of Korea) and then further 'enhanced' with a second cancel, perhaps by another forger or reseller?

Some of these forgeries have two cancels, one 5-ring cancel and a 'PORT-SAID' cancel that can also be found on the Saatjian forgeries (always only part of the cancel, never the entire cancel).

In the above 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).

This forgery has a cancel "IMITATION" and was made by the forger Kamigata of Japan. All four values were forged by Kamigata. Also shown above are three Kamigata forgeries, which were further 'enhanced' with a "PORT SAID 15 VI 89" cancel.

All four Kamigata forgeries.

A forgery in the wrong colour: 1 c green! The vertical background lines are too coarse.

Another Kamigata forgery, image obtained from http://www.philatoforge.co.uk/CSSuezCanalCompany1868_Forgeries_Forgery17.html. The design is different from the above forgeries (as is often the case with Kamigata forgeries, he made many varieties). It can still be recognized though, since it has his typical "IMITATION" cancel.


Forgery type with ropes at the back different and ringcancel

At first sight this looks like a Kamigata product as well, but it is clearly different. The most noticeable is the ropes at the back of the ship that form a large triangle.


Forgeries made by unknown forger:

According to the Peter Bottrill collection, this Arabic cancel is based on a coin from Zanzibar (1 Pessa from 1882)

Another 'coin-cancel', according to Peter Bottrill this is a Roman coin from the Mint at Thessalonica (around 330 BC). The design of the coin depicts a gate.

'PORT-SAID DOUANE COLIS IV T5' forged cancel.

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 ship has a wavy top flag. Some of the above forgeries have a forged '5129' cancel. This forgery type also exist with an Arabic cancel. It also exists with a 'ENTREPRISE GENERALE DES TRAVAUX' cancel in a large circle. Also shown above are a '125' numeral cancel and some dot cancels and an Arabic coin-cancel applied to the same forgery type. These forgeries were printed in sheets of 120.

Specialists distinguish five subtypes of the 40 c: in the first on the upper left '40c' is placed higher. In the second one, the dot of the lower right '40c' is connected to the '0'. In the third type the dot behind the lower right '40c' has become a comma. In the fourth type, this dot is even smaller. In the fifth type, the 'c' of the lower right '40c' is broken at the left and there is a smudge on the front of the ship.



I have my strong doubts about the following stamps:

Literature and websites


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


Copyright by Evert Klaseboer