Jefferson Counterfeits

US #807 – The genuine 3¢ Jefferson stamp. Click image to order.

On June 16, 1938, the post office issued a 3¢ Jefferson stamp, which was convincingly counterfeited.

The 3¢ Jefferson stamp was the fifth issue in the popular Presidential Series, affectionately known as the “Prexies.”  The series was issued in response to public clamoring for a new Regular Issue series, as the current series had been in use for more than a decade.

US #807(CF1) – Counterfeit stamp with perforations. Click image to order.

Franklin Roosevelt, the stamp-collecting President, personally approved every stamp.  Every US President deceased when the series was created was honored.  America’s first 29 Presidents were featured on stamps with denominations corresponding to the numerical order of their term of office.  In addition to the Presidents, Benjamin Franklin, Martha Washington, and the White House were commemorated.

On June 16, 1938, the Thomas Jefferson stamp was placed on sale.  Paying the 3¢ first-class letter rate, the Jefferson stamp was the most commonly used and in-demand stamp of the series.  In fact, it would remain in use even after a new series was issued in the 1950s – until 1958.  It would be produced in booklet, sheet, and coil format over the course of the series.

US #807(CF2) – Imperforate counterfeit stamp.  Click image to order.

In New York City, 33-year-old Nathan Levine developed a scheme.  Using a blend of photography and lithograph printing, he produced counterfeited copies of the 1938 3¢ Thomas Jefferson stamp.  Levine easily sold sheets of 100 perforate and imperforate stamps for $1.75 each until his 1949 arrest.  Today, his counterfeits are more valuable than the genuine stamp, which is a seldom occurrence.

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  1. Interesting, what was the counterfeiter’s Mr. Levine punishment? Did he go to prison? Also, do we know how profitable his venture was. Thank you Mystic for the story

  2. 1938 was a very interesting year. In June, we had the Presidential Stamp series, in July, I was born, and in Sept, we had the hurricane of 38 which raked New England. Interestingly enough, I just worked those Presidential series in a lot of used stamps that I received from a friend. By far the 3c was the greatest number in that set. Can’t say that I could tell a counterfeit from the real. Too bad that a scammer gets recognition on Dad’s Day but can’t erase history. Thank you! Mystic.

  3. I can remember a guy on a street corner when I was 3 and with my mother–“Psssst! Hey lady, wanna buy some stamps?”

  4. This is how I started collecting stamps as a kid back in 1952 when my dad gave me many prexies to soak off paper to keep me out of mischief. This only encouraged my mischievousness when I expanded my collecting to the neighborhood mailboxes before the postman picked up the out-going mail. (Eventually a neighbor saw and identified me to the Spokane, Washington post office and I was given a verbal lecture and warning never to do this again, which I never did!)

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