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Richard P.H. Wolle FORGERIES

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R.P.H. Wolle was a stamp forger around 1900 (see 'Philatelic Forgeries, their Lives and Works' by V.E.Tyler for more details). It is mentioned there that Wolle converted proofs and stamps into rarities (inverted centers, bisected stamps etc.). He worked with several aliases (Fischer, Stein, Kaiser?).

The following text was found in The London Philatelist Vol 13, 1904, page 98, which quotes the 'Boston Herald' of March 14:

"Richard H. P. Wolle was brought before United States Commissioner Fiske on March 13th, and was charged with counterfeiting and having in his possession counterfeits of United States stamps. Secret service and special agents of the Government and stamp collectors of this city are filled with glee to-day over the capture of Wolle. Mr. J. M. Bartels, a stamp collector, with offices in the Old South building, is the United States Government expert in these matters, and is the special agent of the Post Office Department to the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, empowered to buy United States and foreign stamps for the exhibition, and to instal the exhibit. To him is due much credit for the capture of Wolle."
It appears that Wolle sold some stamps to Mr. F. C. Foster, which were promptly declared bogus by Mr. Bartels, and that the prisoner subsequently had the impudence to call himself at Mr. Bartels' office, where he was recognised and handed over to the police.
" Wolle employed eight different methods of counterfeiting stamps and raising Government bills. The 2 - cent Pan - American stamp, which was suppressed as soon as it was discovered that a part of the issue had the centrepiece upside down, was one that he delighted to counterfeit. He would erase the centrepiece in a regular stamp, and then cleverly paste an inverted centrepiece from another stamp in its place, making an almost perfect reproduction of a stamp of the suppressed issue. A counterfeit which cost him 4 cents and a little labour was raised to a value of $150. He is alleged to have sold hundreds of these stamps for $150 each. Being an artist of wonderful ability and persistency, he was able to make stamps with the pen and brush, which would pass the critical gaze of experts, even when using a powerful magnifying glass. He bought stamps worth 90 cents, and so manipulated them as to make them saleable to expert collectors for $10 each. He procured imperforate stamps, perforated them, and engraved the scroll work upon the borders, making them saleable for $40 and $50 each. Some of these perforate stamps cost him 6 cents and his labour, and he sold them for $50 each. When John Wannamaker was Postmaster-General, Congressman, and politician, almost anybody could procure from the Government proofs of rare stamp plates upon thick, heavy cardboard. Wolle secured many of these and shaved the board to a very thin paper, pasted the stamps upon envelopes, and applied counterfeit cancellation marks, and then sold these counterfeits for fabulous sums of money to collectors. His work was so marvellous that only the best experts could detect them."
Wolle by no means, however, confined his attention to American stamps, but operated on all classes, notably those of France, and it appears that his "fakes" have unfortunately obtained a wide circulation, as for instance only last month Mr. Bartels discovered some of Wolle's work in the collection of a millionaire New York collector, and told the man that his stamps were " fakes," and undoubtedly the work of Wolle. These particular stamps were traced back, and shown to have been sent out of the Jefferson City, Mo., prison by Wolle.
It is stated that Wolle is wanted in Chicago, St. Louis, Cleveland, New York, and nearly every large city of this and foreign countries. His trial in Boston will probably be a long and sensational one, and we sincerely trust that the effect will be to put a stop to the sale of these dangerous forgeries.

The following text appears in The Evergreen-State Philatelist Vol. 9, No.4, 1898, probably referring to Wolle
The St. Louis weekly seems to have secured what would be called a "scoop" in newspaper parlance in its reports of "Fischer, the Philatelic Fraud. His Second Capture and Subsequent Escape. A Thrilling- Detective Story." The narration of how Fischer alias Kaiser, alias Wolle, alias Stein, was recognized by a Louisville collector, his arrest and hearing and his daring esape at Cincinnati, while on his way to Cleveland in charge of a detective, will satisfy the most ardent lover of philatelic sensations.

Copyright by Evert Klaseboer