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The Rare Jean de Sperati Postage Stamp Forgeries Of:

The Australia 1913 £2 Kangaroo, Tasmania 1892  £1 QV,

BNG 2/6d Lakatoi, GB 1880 2/- Brown QV,

And the Western Australia 1902 Orange £1 QV.
 

 


 
PAPUA/BRITISH NEW GUINEA 2/6d LAKATOI
SPERATI FORGERY.
 

All the Sperati Stamp Forgeries listed on this page are all SOLD.  Some like the Tasmania £1 and the £2 Kangaroo have been through my hands several times.  Contact me if you seek Sperati Forgeries from this region as I am the “go to” person for them it seems! 

 

 
 

This is the 'Holy Grail' to all serious Papua collectors.  The Sperati forgery of the British New Guinea 1901 2/6d Lakatoi.  Known to exist, I doubt a copy has ever been previously on the market in Australia.  Leading Australian Auctioneers dealers like Rod Perry and Charles Leski  told me they have never offered this item in the decades they have worked in this business.

Perversely, the stamp has an old 1939 Royal Philatelic Society London Certificate (signed by keeper of the Royal Collection,  Sir John Wilson!)  saying it is
a genuine SG #14b (today this has been re-numbered by Gibbons as SG #16 - Cat. £3,750).  That Certificate and opinion is wrong, and again shows slavish obedience to Certificates can be costly,  as the fake is worth MORE than a genuine SG #16!  It is a Sperati forgery, and is quite possibly the only one now existing.  Interestingly the Certificate is dated well BEFORE Sperati’s activities became widely known.

In the definitive book, “Postal History Of British New Guinea and Papua” by Roger Lee, on page 99,   Lee states that only 2 examples are known, and shows (as does the BPA book) the small flaw in the left value tablet that distinguishes the fakes from the ”genuine” article via the minute differences that exist.  The stamp is comb perforation ( genuine SG #16 should be line perf)  and the frame size is 30 x 25 mm and should be 29.5 x 25.5 mm.

Sperati has taken a genuine 1d black and red Lakatoi stamp,  and carefully (somehow!)  bleached away only the outer red design, leaving the central Lakatoi,  and printed his fake brown vignette in the same place by lithography.
This is the ONLY time Sperati ever used this technique on any forgery,  i.e. bleaching out PART only of a design.  The differences from the genuine, as in all Sperati forgeries, are microscopic.  The forgery is just so good it would be accepted by 99.9999% of dealers and collectors without comment as the genuine article.  It was indeed so good it fooled the RPSL and Sir John Wilson! 

Jean de Sperati was very incredibly clever in that he faded or bleached all of the design (or in this unique example, part of the design)  of a genuine but low value stamp, and then printed his new design over the top.  This way he ended up with the correct paper, size, perforations, watermark, and cancel  (Although on this copy, the barred numerical cancel is understood to be a superb fake as well!)  This stamp is sold with the RPS Certificate verifying  (wrongly)
  that this is a genuine £3,750 stamp.  

On that basis, my price of about half Gibbons for the genuine is quite attractive, especially as no copy has been seen on this Australian market for many decades, if ever.   It would be a key addition to any fine Papua/British New Guinea exhibit.  Indeed to ANY serious Oceania/Commonwealth collection. 

The scan is not too good re colour accuracy, sorry, but used an alternate program to the one I usually scan with.  In reality the colour of this forgery matches the genuine virtually identically.  Price of Papua - $A3,500.  

( Stamp now SOLD - to a leading dealer!  Info has been left on this page here 'for the record' of other students of Papua. )

 



 




 

 

Tasmania £1 1892 Green and Gold Queen Victoria "Tablet" SPERATI  FORGERY:   "Used" with a genuine circular cancel, "Hobart Tasmania APR - 1901", and is the ONLY example of this stamp ever seen by most large dealers I have mentioned it to, or shown it to.  This exact stamp I have in stock is illustrated in the BPA superb book on the Sperati forgeries, and the excellent Harold Bynoff Smith 'Forgeries' volume.

It is believed to have been a "one-off" attempt, and Sperati it seems abandoned the idea of making more copies, after this absolute perfectionist decided he could not 100% accurately colour match the "real thing". A ton more detailed background on Sperati and his amazing forgeries is found at - www.glenstephens.com/snapril04.html


A quite cruddy looking copy of the £2 Sperati Roo sold at Stanley Gibbons Sydney in late November 28, 2007 for $A4,770, so my $4,000 for this is a BARGAIN!  Just LOOK at how UGLY that stamp was! -  www.tinyurl.com/5zs56f

This £2 Kangaroo is by far the most "common" of the four Pacific region Speratis, as about two dozen exist - mostly "used".  So this possibly unique Tasmania example has to be a blue-chip bargain at 20% UNDER that price - $A4,000.  Comes complete with the original Bynoff-Smith album page, and photocopy of the BPA London Sperati handbook pages on this stamp, showing this is the exact example illustrated there.
$A4,000

 

 

·    GREAT BRITAIN 1880 2/- BROWN SPERATI FORGERY


 

I also have just sold another very rare Sperati Forgery.  The rarest Great Britain single face different un-overprinted postage stamp,  the always fiercely sought after 1880 2/- Brown.  The normal stamp is a rarity, SG 121, and is grossly under-priced at £4,200 as a quite tiny number were printed, and most were thrown away on the parcel wrappings they were used on.  A boring little brown stamp on brown parcel wrapping seemed to appeal to no-one at the time to teat off and retain. 

The replacement VERY large sized bright 1883 high values were a different story.   Even its same design counterpart the 2/- blue was always far more popular.  This Sperati used forgery is as always brilliantly done, and how you’d pick it as a fake is a mystery.  This example came from Bynoff-Smith, and this exact stamp is illustrated in the Bynoff-Smith superb  ‘Forgeries’ volume on British Commonwealth stamps.  (Ditto for the Tasmania 1892 £1.)

It was priced at only $A1,750 and this was only a % of catalogue for the genuine,  a very cheap way of buying a Britain SG #121, most especially the rare Sperati forgery of it!   It was the only example of this forgery I have ever owned or seen offered, and the price in the UK may of course be somewhat higher than this - I have nothing whatever to guide me in this respect as SG Specialised does not price it!   The famous 1/- green QV "Stock Exchange forgeries" (not done by Sperati) of which many 100s - possibly 1,000s exist, sell for almost this sum each, and are fully listed and catalogued by Gibbons.
 

 
 

A LITTLE ABOUT JEAN SPERATI
 

Stamp Forger Jean Sperati and wife Marie-Louise in 1915

 

 

Jean de Sperati is universally regarded as the finest and most dangerous stamp forger ever to have lived.  He was born in Italy in 1884 and died in 1957, living most of his life in France.   His material was so dangerous the British Philatelic Association decided to protect philately and purchased his “stock” and printing blocks etc in 1953, for a sum said to be $US40,000 - an absolute fortune half a century ago.  

As a valid comparison of what $US40,000 would buy in that era, Harmers London sold the entire ‘T.E Field’ collection of Australian Commonwealth in 1948 for £7,500.   It contained masses of proofs, essay, and mint £1 and £2 Kangaroos by the bucket load - block after block after block -  pages of them, and dozens of used.  The finest collection of the Commonwealth ever offered,  it would readily sell for over TEN MILLION today if offered for the first time.

Sperati was so good, a mailing of 18 forgeries addressed to Spain was seized in 1943 by French Customs who has them assessed as being all genuine.  He was arrested on a charge of 'exporting capital' estimated at being worth 300,000 Francs without a permit, and was summonsed to appear in court.  Exporting forgeries was at the time legal if sold and identified as such, and free of duty or taxes. 

Sperati would “sign” each very lightly on the reverse “facsimile” with easily erasable pencil, thus complying with the law!  Sperati made fools of the Authorities in the long court trial by forging three more identical sets of the same 18 stamps in question, and tendered them to the court!   The Judges were impressed, dismissed the capital export change, and levied a token fine for “disturbing the normal routine of the French customs service.” ( !! True !! )

Sperati was a master craftsman, and produced very small numbers of meticulous masterpieces, rather than the masses of low quality JUNK quality material manufactured by Panelli, Spiro Brothers and Fournier etc.  He had an intense interest in chemistry and associated areas,  so he was able to make his fakes from GENUINE stamps.  This was a very dangerous technique,  as the paper, size, cancel, perforations and indeed some of the design were all then 100% genuine.

Sperati started a personal stamp collection - the "Livre D'Or" (Gold Book). These were his own forgeries that were “Guaranteed Genuine” by dealers or experts.

Some stamps in his famous album contained as many as six different signatures or Guarantees of authenticity. The "Livre D'Or" would eventually contain 125 different expertised stamps.  I understand the BNG Lakatoi above was among them.

Sperati is best known in Australia for his excellent 1913 £2 Kangaroo forgeries of which about two dozen are in collector hands.   Despite the relatively large number available of this particular fake,  they still sell for many $A1000s each and are highly sought whenever they are offered.  They are catalogued in the latest ACSC at $7,500 “used”  which is $A2,500 MORE than a genuine 1913 £2 Roo is catalogued at  -  and that is of course Australia’s most valuable regular issued postage stamp. (‘Mint’ Sperati Roos are in ACSC at $17,500 - $7,500 MORE than a genuine mint £2 1913 First Watermark Kangaroo!)

Prestige Auctions in Melbourne realised over $4,000 for an ordinary used example in their 24 January 2004 Auction shown below.  And prices have continued to rise ever since.  Showing just how strong Sperati prices are right now.  Along with ALL high end Kangaroo stamps.  As you can see this copy has a machine cancel - a clear impossibility for a heavy parcel!  This was originally a ½d Green Kangaroo which had the green colour bleached right out  - but Sperati left the postmark intact.  
 

Jean Sperati £2 Kangaroo forgery stamp - cost  $A5,400 in October 2014

 

 

Sperati Kangaroo forgeries get high prices globally, not just locally.  On October 7, 2014, Robert Siegel Actions in New York sold the Sperati forgery shown above for $US3,750 hammer price. With the nasty 15% “fee” added, and their obligatory 3% credit card fee, it cost the buyer $US4,443 plus shipping - AND to Australia, Siegals charge a minimum $US50 shipping for a single stamp - I kid you not.

Let no-one ever complain about MY mailing costs! Australian banks also now charge local buyers a 3% gouge fee to use any card overseas, and convert at a bad rate too, so that “$US3,750” bid will have cost a local buyer around $A5,400 on their account at the time.   

A lot of money for a STAMP FORGERY!  Full ACSC cat for a genuine used £2 1913 First Watermark Kangaroo is $A5,000 (SG 16 - £3,750) and retail, you would pay less than $A5,000 for a superb example. So the fake is worth far more than a rare genuine stamp. It is most likely a World Record Price for a total stamp forgery – can anyone think of a higher price from anywhere?  

 



 

 
 

This £2 Kangaroo was the ONLY stamp of the Australian Commonwealth ever forged by Sperati.   There are three other stamps from the region he is known to have produced, and I am proud to offer two of these three right here on this website

 



 

   Left - my very attractive Sperati ex Gray at $4,500.   Right - Appalling looker just sold by SG Sydney Nov 28 for $4,770!  


 

 

1913 £2 Roo Sperati FORGERY -  ex Arthur Gray Collection;   Choice looking "used" example of the remarkable forgery created by Jean de Sperati, who made his forgeries by "fading out" genuine used lower values.  This ensured the stamp had a genuine watermark and cancellation and perfs.  He then printed the forged impression by 2 colour photo-lithography managing somehow to get the ink UNDER the cancellation.  

Dated 1913 "N.S.W." c.d.s., well centered and nice margined, and as the Gray cat called this example: "extremely fine and rare".   A trivial re-inforced corner perf not mentioned in Shreves description.  It is estimated that only two "mint" copies are known, and about two dozen "used" copies - according to ACSC.  With "Sperati Reproduction/114" handstamp on reverse from BPA.  (Indicating the Sperati different type, not number of them made!)  ACSC cat $5,000

In the large section dedicated to Sperati forgery items at the Sotheby's Gawaine Baillie sale in January 2007, the Australian 1913 £2 Sperati Kangaroo die proof brought £3,720 (then = $A9,300 - a world record price for any individual Sperati forgery item.  Several of these exist.  After that sale Sperati is RED hot.  This stamp shows perfectly the main characteristic of the forgery ... the fine white line from Melbourne to the "UN" of "Pounds".  Sperati's forgery skill was so great, this looks as good or better than the issued £2.  For complete details on the Gray sale, click - https://www.glenstephens.com//arthur-gray-kangaroos.html

A quite cruddy looking copy of this £2 Sperati just sold at Stanley Gibbons Sydney in late November 28, 2007 for $A4,770, so my $4,500 is a BARGAIN!  Just LOOK at how UGLY that stamp was! -  www.tinyurl.com/5zs56f

 I was delighted to read in the April 2007 'Stamp News'  that in Rodney Perry's detailed review of the 849 lot Gray sale, he rated my purchase of this as among the 10 best value buys of the entire sale.  Pointing out rightly these sold for that price a decade ago, well before the massive rise in Roo values overall.  These Speratis have in the past always sold for a LOT more than normal 1913 £2 used roos, so these should really be $8,000 type items today.  Read a lot more about the amazing Jean Sperati here -  www.glenstephens.com/sperati.html -  and a real bargain at well under the out of date ACSC price - $A4,500

(This Stamp now SOLD.  Info has been left on this page here 'for the record' of other students of Roos and Sperati. )

 

 

 

 

I was about to mail the Arthur Gray Sperati £2 Roo Forgery I had bought back from the New York sale in 2007, when Arthur Gray popped by for a chat. He kindly endorsed in pen, the Shreves New York lot card, to the buyer from me: “Tim, enjoy the Sperati as much as I did - Regards, Arthur Gray.”

 

 

 

Western Australia 1902 £1 QV Top Value – the rare SPERATI forgery proof:  A few of these (6 of each max, Robson Lowe stated existed - http://tinyurl.com/RLowe ) On thick card from the BPA, and marked, as all were with the oval “SPERATI REPRODUCTION” handstamp in violet. (The BPA 60 years back paid a FORTUNE to buy all the Sperati stamps and proofs, to mark them, and keep them off the main market.) 

Sperati only made 4 forgeries from Australasia. The £2 Kangaroo, Tasmania £1 Tablet, BNG 2/6 Lakatoi, and this WA one.  All 4 stamps sell for MANY $1000s each. The last colour proof of this stamp I saw offered was 6 years back - http://tinyurl.com/WAsperati and was invoiced for $A3,728.  I am probably the only dealer in Australia to have owned 3 of these 4, and the WA is the only one that has eluded me!  They are terribly rare, and a $4,000 item easily. The Sperati is BETTER than the issued stamp as he touched out small tiny ink spots the lazy printer left on the original plate.  $A600  (Order as stock number 418YC)   

 
 

All the Sperati Stamp Forgeries listed on this page are all SOLD.  Some like the Tasmania £1 and the £2 Kangaroo have been through my hands several times.  Contact me if you seek Sperati Forgeries from this region as I am the “go to” person for them it seems! 

 

 

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Full Time Stamp Dealer in Australia for 35 years. Life Member - American Stamp Dealers' Association. (ASDA - New York) Also Member - Philatelic Traders' Society

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