Surcharge Forgeries


There are a great many forgeries of the 1897 surcharges and many of these are more common that the genuine issues and yet they have generally not been described in catalogues. The forgeries can be described as comprising the following:

All are forgeries, but it is useful to recognise these different formats in understanding and interpreting past catalogues and to some degree the origin of the forgeries.

These forgeries are not well documented, indeed many have not been described at all. Consequently forgeries are commonly offered for sale as 'genuine issues' by a wide range of sellers including major and presumably knowledgable auction houses. Indeed even the illustrated stamp in the Scott 2020 catalaogue appears to be a forgery. On top of all this there is the added complication of smudged, over-inked and partial overprints to further make our task harder.

Use of the Original Handstamp ("Reprints")

The first recorded forgery was made in Galvez’s 1898 catalogue, where he noted the existence of 20c black surcharge on 20c grey brown (Galvez #253) although at that time it was not described as a forgery. Scott (1900) similarly listed this stamp (Scott #200; and later in 1903 as #199a) but was removed in subsequent years later reappearing as a possible forged reprint.

Bartels et al (1904) was the first to describe the existence of forged reprints using the original catchet. In general, the forgeries were in a different colour ink to the original. Typically the colour is described as violet black. However, this generic colour description was not always accurate as these forged 'reprints' also occur in black and in violet inks.

The forgeres using the original catchet were probably produced as favours using the original die and/or possibly placed on the market by someone who had obtained the original dies in 1898 and 1899. Since the original surcharge die was located in Manila and the original 1897 surcharge stamps produced in Manila it is believed that these forgeries were also produced in Manila rather than in Spain (Peterson PPN 1989-2).

The surcharge strikes on these forgeries are usually very clean and well struck suggesting that these were produced with some care. In addition, these forgeries are commonly offered in pairs or blocks with at least one stamp of which has the surcharge in some abnormal position. The forged surcharges which utilise the original die are not found with any postal cancels from the Spanish period. However, some are recorded with private business handstamps. It is currently assumed that these were ‘created’ as none are known on genuine covers.

Of the modern catalogues, both Scott and Stanley Gibbons note the existence of forgeries and describe these as ‘reprints.’

Lists including updates of known forgeries using the original catchet have been provided by Peterson (PPN 1989-2, PPJ 2004-3 and PPJ 2019-1). In the latest article some of these were illustrated. However, even some of these represent examples of forged catchets rather than reprints, and the listing was not complete.

Details of known reprints are provided on a seperate page

Use of the Forged Handstamps

Forgeries utilising forged catchets are also numerous. Careful inspection is required to distinguish between these forgeries and the genuine issues.

Bartels et al (1904) is the only catalogue to describe some of the known forged catchets. Gooding (1995) and Peterson (PPJ 1999-1) provided updated lists but without illustration and additional forgery types are now known.

Use of the Original Handstamp as part of a Trial Sheet or Proof

Another surcharge forgery is described by Palmer (1912) who noted that Galvez stated that a sheet of the 25c brown stamps was surcharged with 20c, 15, 5c and telegraph surcharge. The actual Galvez reference to which Palmer refers to is not known. However, in the Tows 1948 auction catalogue such a se-tenant strip of 4 is listed as originating from ‘the rare trial surcharge sheet’ or proof; the lot was accompanied by a photo of the entire sheet before it was broken up.





Base Stamps









Trial Sheet