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According to V.E.Tyler in his book 'Philatelic Forgers, their Lives and Works' George Whitehurst and John Driscoll Harris from Birmingham and Smethwick respectively made forged first day covers of the coronation issue of 1937. His 'creations' were intended to be from the following countries: British Solomon Islands (Tulagi), Gilbert and Ellice Islands, Ascension Island, St.Helena, Belize, British Honduras, Dominica (Roseau), Gold Coast (Accra), Nyasaland Protectorate (Blantyre) and Northern Rhodesia (Broken Hill).
The following text was found on:
COUNTERFEIT items are currently a huge cost burden to many
UK industries, which lose out on millions of pounds every year.
But the production of fake goods has been around for many years,
with opportunists seeking out ways to make extra cash.
The West Midlands Police Museum has examples of some forged products made by early twentieth century criminals. Curator Mr David Cross said one of the more devious counterfeits stored in the museum was contained on innocent looking envelopes. He said that back in the 1930s, at the height of the Commonwealth, one cunning man set out to profit from rare stamp collectors.
George Whitehurst knew the Coronation year of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in 1937 would be a prime time for enthusiasts seeking rare and valuable stamps posted on May 12.
To be of value, the stamps needed to be first day covers posted from the country of origin on Coronation Day. It would have been impossible to arrange for someone in a far flung country to post stamps back to the UK.
So Whitehurst got around this obstacle by buying a franking machine and forging the post marks himself.
The UK produced all the stamps for countries in the commonwealth and Whitehurst took advantage of a Birmingham-based stamp seller in Temple Street, in the city centre. Mr Cross said:
Whitehurst bought stamps costing, one, two and three pence and would place one of each on an envelope before using his franking machine to make it look as though the stamps had ben sent from their country of origin. He posted letters to himself, using a false name of Mr Harris and Son of Lightwoods Hall Road. The 55-year-old then advertised his dodgy wares in philatelists magazines and sold the envelopes to unsuspecting collectors for around £5 each a lot of money in those days. The police museum has some of the envelopes Whitehurst posted, supposedly from as far away as the Gilbert and Ellice Islands, the Solomon Islands, Nyasaland and the Gold Coast. Whitehurst clearly underestimated his market and was caught out by an avid stamp collector.
Mr Cross explained: One of his customers made a close examination of an envelope that should have been sent from the Gilbert and Ellice Islands.
The collector realised they were forged by the difference in lettering. The letter L in Ellice was slanted to the left. Police raided Whitehursts house and found hundreds of stamps and post-ready envelopes waiting to be sent out. An investigation in to the quality of the forgery found that the Nyasaland and Solomon Island stamps were good copies. But, the Gold Coast frank lacked an additional message promoting Gold Coast cocoa beans.
Whitehurst was charged with conspiring to cheat and sentenced to 18 months in prison.
According to Tyler, the stamp dealer Harris was sentenced to 9 months in prison.