Circular Forgeries of the 1st Period

From The Postage Stamps of J&K Simplified by Dawson & Smythies, pp 8-9.

It is not known now when the first and most famous forgeries of the circular stamps made their appearance. All the currently known varieties appear in the list published by Dr Legrand in 1875. They came on to the market as the original Kashmir stamps, preceding the three circular dies with which we have been dealing, and thus were dubbed the ‘Die I’ stamps. There are only two values, ½a and 4a. They are a trifle larger than the genuine circulars, with very wavy frame lines, and the inscriptions, which were intended to be the same as those on the genuine stamps, are extremely crudely engraved, really a caricature of the genuine stamps. Yet they were accepted throughout the stamp world, and their sponsors, probably hailing from Paris were cute enough not to produce them in any quantity, thus giving the show away as well as greatly lowering the prices that they got for them. Huge sums were paid for the rarest varieties—as much as £50! Their crudeness was pointed to as a proof of their genuineness—they were so poorly engraved that the Kashmir authorities had them replaced at once by superior stamps!

These forgeries were exposed by Sir David Masson in the Philatelic Journal of India Vol. III, November 1899. He had been assured by the Jammu authorities on a visit to that Province, a short time previously, that not even an intoxicated official would ever have passed such crudities. Séfi and Pemberton believe, all the same, that they were actually made in India, although they were probably printed in Paris. They are found “postmarked” with brick-red smudges in imitation of the Kashmir circular seal. Chronicle the circular watercolour fogeries:

native paper½ablack
½agreen
4ablack
4ablue-black
4aultramarine
4adeep purple
4acarmine-red
4aorange-red
thin buff 'rice'½ablack
4ared

These forgeries are well worth looking out for, and as they are allo rare, they still fetch prices above those that some of the genuine stamps can command. They are of great historical and philatelic interest, and form one of the most audacious and successful frauds ever perpetrated upon stamp collectors.

Two other forgeries were considered by Masson to have emanated from the same quarter. They are in watercolours on native paper. The ½a has a numberal like an uncoloured square with a short vertical stroke to the right and it is about ½mm greater in diameter. The Dogri inscriptions in both are quite different from the genuine dies. Chronicle: 1a blue and 4a black. The ½a has been seen with what looks like an absolutely genuine clearly impressed magenta circular seal. It is certainly not the smudge of colour with which ‘Die I’ forgeries are often found.

► Jammu Circulars of the Second Period.

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