US Stamps

Errant plate number interval on counterfeit U.S. 2023 Sailboats coil stamps

Dec 11, 2023, 8 AM
This strip of five counterfeit United States 2023 Sailboats coil stamps shows a P1111 plate number in the bottom margin of the first, third and fifth stamps. Genuine Sailboats coil stamps feature the same plate number on every 30th stamp.

By Charles Snee

Mint counterfeit examples of the United States 2023 nondenominated (48¢) Sailboats postcard-rate coil stamps (Scott 5749-5750) reported to Linn’s Stamp News in late October are readily identifiable in any multiple of three or more stamps because the plate number interval is incorrect.

On the strip of five counterfeit Sailboats coil stamps illustrated above, the P1111 plate number appears on every other stamp, specifically on the stamp picturing one sailboat (Scott 5749).

On genuine Sailboats coil stamps, the plate number (P1111) appears in the bottom margin on every 30th stamp.

Robert Thompson of Texas, an expert on modern U.S. plate number coil stamps, notified Linn’s on Oct. 31 that he had received a roll of 100 counterfeit Sailboats coil stamps from an online source. He pointed out the incorrect plate number interval and that the fake stamps were tagged.

When viewed under shortwave ultraviolet light, the bogus stamps exhibit light yellow green tagging similar to the tagging on genuine stamps. Tagging is a phosphor material that may be lines, bars, letters, part of the design area or the entire stamp surface.

The presence of tagging makes it much more likely that mail franked with counterfeit stamps will be postmarked and pass undetected through the U.S. Postal Service’s automated, high-speed mail-processing equipment.

In late October, Thompson also told Linn’s that he acquired mint rolls of 100 of the counterfeit 2023 nondenominated (24¢) additional-ounce-rate School Bus coil stamp (Scott 5741). Thompson first discovered that counterfeit used on a postcard in late September, and Linn’s reported his find in the Oct. 23 issue.

During the past few years, the number of U.S. stamps being counterfeited has grown exponentially. Almost without exception, the quality of these fake stamps is remarkably close to the real thing.

The counterfeiters have solved the challenges associated with printing stamps: paper, ink and printing quality; die-cutting; and, most recently, tagging.

Collectors can still spot the bogus issues, but the typical purchaser of stamps cannot. That might explain why counterfeiters aren’t concerned about producing a stamp in a format that doesn’t exist for the genuine issue.

Linn’s reported in the Oct. 30 issue the discovery of counterfeit examples of three coil issues in the low-denomination Fruit definitive (regular-issue) series printed in panes of 20, a format that doesn’t exist for the genuine stamps.

And the fakers aren’t particularly worried about size, either.

In the Sept. 25 issue, Linn’s announced the discovery of counterfeit panes of 20 of the 2010 44¢ Love stamp (Scott 4450) that were printed in a size noticeably larger than the genuine issue.

An oversize counterfeit of the 2022 nondenominated (58¢) Flags coil stamp (Scott 5657) printed by Ashton Potter (USA) Ltd. was reported in the Nov. 6 Linn’s.

Counterfeit stamps are widely available on the internet at substantial discounts (often up to 50 percent) below face value.

In many cases, the ads feature the U.S. Postal Service’s familiar eagle logo to make it look like the stamps being sold are products of the nation’s postal service.

Beginning in 2021, the number of counterfeit issues started to accelerate. Because of this unfortunate development, the Scott editors decided to stop listing counterfeit forever and nondenominated postcard-rate stamps issued from 2007 to date in the Postal Counterfeits section of the Scott Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps and Covers.

Complete listings of all U.S. counterfeits are now provided in the Scott Specialized Catalogue of United States Counterfeits, which was published for the first time in 2022 and is available from the Amos Advantage website.

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