Essential Differences Between Fake and Real Confederate Postage Stamps

Did you know the Tatham Stamp & Coin Company of Springfield, Massachusetts, produced 14 TASCO Educational Booklets from 1938 to 1943? They look like this:

Included among those booklets was “The Postage Stamps of the Confederate States of America,” by Roger W. Sargent. According to the front cover of the booklet, it’s “a brief historical and philatelic research on the general issues of the Confederacy, containing facsimile reproductions of the fourteen stamps in color.” Some of the facsimiles even included postmarks.

So, the question you may be asking now is: How do I know if the stamp I’m looking at is the real deal or a facsimile created for educational purposes? Keep reading to find out…

Example of authentic Confederate States of America stamp (CSA #1).

The Civil War Philatelic Society Tells All

According to the Civil War Philatelic Society‘s Confederate Bulletin, No. 16, published March 1947, “The Springfield (Mass.) Imitations” came from older imitations originally created in 1918. These original images were created by making enlarged pen and ink drawings of the Confederate stamps of the General Issues. These drawings were then turned into reduced copper etchings and printed in the same colors as the originals. This was done with permission from the Library of Congress and Assistant US District Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, Callum Jones, as well as Chief of the Secret Service Division of the Treasury Department, William Moran.

When the Tatham Stamp & Coin Company decided to print their TASCO Educational Booklet for Confederate stamps, they used the 1918 images – but without permission. They were later made aware that they had violated Section No. 2324 1/2 of the Postal Laws regarding counterfeiting of postmarks, and they destroyed the devices used to create them. They also imprinted their remaining imitations with “Facsimilie” on the backs of the stamps. However, if applied to covers, the warning would not be visible.

The Civil War Philatelic Society says the easiest way to detect these facsimiles is by putting a drop of diluted aniline sulphate (a chemical found in most chemistry labs) on the stamp. If the paper stains deep yellow, it’s a facsimile. If there is no discoloration, it’s a real Confederate postage stamp. Genuine stamps should be rinsed in water after the test to ensure the chemical does not damage the paper. The reason the facsimile stamp stains yellow is because cheaper modern papers are made with sulphite (wood pulp) whereas paper used to be made with cotton or linen rag in the time of Confederate stamp printing. Another way of testing the stamp paper is by using diluted phloroglucinol, which stains wood pulp paper (of the facsimiles) deep reddish purple.

Other Counterfeit Confederate Stamps

The Tatham Stamp & Coin Company facsimiles are not the only phony Confederate stamps out there. To discover more about them, check out this informational article by the Civil War Philatelic Society.

Do You Know the Story of Mystic’s Confederate Stamp Printing Press?

Mystic president Don Sundman with Confederate Press No. 3

Check out the complete story here.

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