lunes, 16 de mayo de 2022


Gerhard Lang-Valchs


A theorical approach

After having revised the pool of documented Bahamas forgeries and the literature about them, I’m convinced that there exists or at least existed three different forgeries of each of the early values. The later issued and surcharged 6p of 1882 is the exception to the rule. The classification by types and the results of my research do not coincide with Branston’s, except for Type 1.

Figure 6 (left).- A typical Oneglia cancel.
Figure 7 (right).- a typical Torres cancel: CORREOS.

The way of approaching the problem of identification of the Bahamas forgeries does not follow the usual procedure. But the reader less familiar with this kind of problema needs an orientation in order not to feel lost in midst of a lot of disconnected information. Which forgeries can be expected to be found among the documented samples? The “Spiros” forgeries are documented, along with two Torres’ forgeries as well.11 The different price lists of Oneglia show at least 11 (and probably four more) different imitations. Fournier offers four, one facsimile of each value. It seems logical that additonal counterfeits of unknown, most probably later makers, exist. Here is an overview.

Figure 8 (left).- Typical Torres cancel on a "fantasy" forgery.
Figure 9 (center).- Laughing face instead of bourbon lillies.
Figure 10 (right).- European medieval town, not a real Sydney view.

Identifying the forgers through their cancels

An attempt at identification of the work of early stamp forgers through postmarks they often applied to their productions has not yet been made. Despite that, the reader familiar with old forgeries has surely applied this way of identifying different samples; e.g., attributing some fake samples to the “Spiros” because of their emblematic cancel. Lowe/Walske’s Oneglia biography allows us to do the same, as far as the work of the Italian “artist” is concerned.

Figure 11.- Reprints: Torres "joke" (left) and modern reprints.

Identification of the forgeries through their cancels was crucial to discovering the work of the Young Torres for his patron Usigli. Both often applied to their forgeries at lot of different and strange obliterations, frequently not correct for the corresponding country. Combined with the discovery of the “errors” the Spaniard deliberately included in his illustrations, as well as in his actual imitations and even in his cancels, they were decisive for the Discovery and identification of the Torres/Usigli forgeries out of the pool of documented counterfeits mostly not yet attributed to any forger. Figure 6 is an example of a typical Oneglia cancel. See Figure 7 for typical Torres cancel.

Torres and his extravagancies

We would not expect this extravagant behavior from a forger. It is indeed unique in the world of stamp forging. Beyond his illustrations and fakes, it leads sometimes to the production of a kind of “hybrid” stamp, creations half-way between forgery and fantasy[12]. The black and white photo of Torres’ illustration (Figures 8- 11) shows in the lower right lateral medallion the typical Bahamas shell converted in a clown’s face -- one of his “jokes.” The curling end of the ornament is reduced an isolated dot. The three colored samples presented are, however, modern reprints, repeatedly offered together with about 40 further brethren in four colors on the internet as so-called Viner clichés. A sample in a strange orange shade usually completes the sets of those modern products. Charles Viner, one of the most famous early British philatelists and editor of the SCM, could well have used those clichés to illustrate his magazine, as the seller of these items claims.

[12] “The Stamp Fun Factory - Poking Fun on Editors and Collectors,” Stamp Lover, Vol. 109, No. 6, December 2017, p. 173-175.

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