The Five Cent Imperforate Stamp and Digital Forgery

Lincoln Imperf with large right margin.

I am frequently amazed at the prices realized for small margined 5-cent Lincoln imperforate stamps on eBay (and probably stamp bourses and other auction venues). The stamp known by its Scott Catalog number 315 is frequently traded on eBay at what appears to be bargain prices (click here for current eBay auctions of 315). The 2011 Scott price for an unused example (in very fine condition) is $210, and a used version is much more uncommon, commanding a price tag of $1250.

Legitimate certified copies of the used stamp are quite scarce, the price in the Scott catalog reflects this by italicizing the price for the used stamp. Comparing the imperf to its perforated counterpart (Scott 304), an unused previously hinged stamp, lists at $60 and used, a mere $2.25. Philatelists collect the imperforated stamp either as an imperforate pair or a single side/corner margined copy; thus ensuring authenticity. The perforated version does not exist in either of these states.

Unfortunately, over the past century forged copies of the imperforate stamp are plenty. Some created to deceive the collector others contrived to fill the void in a stamp album (and not intended for resale). Either way, the fakes come to market.

I decided to dig through my stamps and covers to find a sizeable margined copy of the perforated 5¢ stamp ready to digitally fake. The digital forgery could then be used to compare with other stamps encountered for sale online. If the margins of the stamp in question are smaller than my example, it may have been forged. Ultimately I spotted a beauty in my collection, a huge margined stamp on cover to Warsaw, Poland. The stamp is an upper right corner margin copy with rather large margins around the perforated sides.

Zoom view of the stamp from Poland cover.

Scanning, digitally cropping the perforations, and adding a black background, I now have a superb (in my opinion) digital Scott 315. Is this stamp worth 475 bucks? Or even eBay rates of ten to twenty times a used perforated variety? I don’t think so. It ultimately depends on what you are looking for a genuine stamp or space filler.

Cropped and black background added.

Posted by Geoff in The Stamps, 0 comments