Saturday, 21 September 2013

Lavender Hill Mob Forgery

The Fake 24p Rust Machin

The Lavender Hill Mob were a gang of forgers who printed over £50 million of fake currency during the 1980’s and early 90’s. They managed to inject over £30 million of fake cash into the economy, some of which is still circulating to this day. Although specialising in fake currency , the gang also printed Postage, Gas, and TV Licence stamps.

The focus of this brief study is the forged 24p Machin Head Definitive Postage Stamp ...

Genuine Stamp

The gang chose to forge the 24p Rust Machin Head stamp, as 24p was the current inland letter rate at the time. They printed the stamp in offset Lithography. They used a Genuine half-sheet of 100 as their template. The forged postage stamps began to appear in the summer of 1993 in mail posted from London and Essex.
Above is an example of the forged stamp alongside a Genuine stamp for comparison. Clearly the colour is an excellent match to that of the Genuine Stamp, enabling the untrained eye to be fooled.

To the trained eye, however, the forgery clearly stands out as a fake. For one, the perforations are much larger at 11 as opposed to 14 or 15. The perforations are also Line Perf. And not Comb. Perf. 

Large Forgery Perfs 11

Genuine Perfs 14 or 15

A close look at the gum also reveals a striking difference. The Deegam Catalogue further elaborates:  “The gum ... is very thin and shiny, with no green or blue dye. It does not appear to be gum arabic since there is no 'crazy paving' appearance under magnification … ”  Deegam further suggests,  “It maybe a variant of Polyvinyl acetate (PVAc).”

Stay Stamp Crazy

Monday, 2 September 2013

Printing Confusion!

Who Can You Trust?

Recently I purchased a lovely Butterfly Custom Booklet direct from Royal Mail. After it arrived, I scanned it and proudly presented it on this Blog. For the technical details I referred to the Royal Mail website. I assumed the information on the site to be accurate. My assumption was wrong. Not long after publishing the article on my blog, it was pointed out to me that the method of printing described for the booklet was incorrect. I had written that the printing method was Litho (Lithography) when it fact, the booklet was clearly printed in Photo (Photograuvre).

To refresh the memory, this is the booklet in question...

I have found that the best way to tell the difference between Photo and Litho printing is to take a close up look at the value and the border of a stamp. When a stamp is printed in Photo tiny square cells can be seen along the edges of the coloured portions of the stamp. This is a product of screening, which is part of the Photo process.

Let us take a close look at one of the 1st Class Royal Mail Red stamps in this booklet.

As you can see this stamp clearly has the hallmarks of a Photograuvre printed stamp. The arrows point to the areas in which the screening effect can be seen.

Conversely, this is what a stamp printed in Lithography will look like...

I guess the moral of this story is to always question and to seek out your own answers! My lesson has been learnt.

Stay Stamp Crazy!!