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The Coronation Issue of 1904
A special set of stamps commemorating the crowning of King Peter and the first Serbian uprising under Kara George, was issued the day of the coronation, September 8, 1904.
The stamps were designed by Djoka Jovanovich of Belgrade.
The engraving was done by E. Mouchon in Paris where the cliches were also prepared.
The design measures 37 mm by 23.5 mm.
All the stamps have the name, “Dj. Jovanovich in cyrillic in the lower left corner and E. Mouchon in Latin letters in the lower right.
It was printed at the new Stamp Printing Works of the State Monopoly by typography. The space between the stamps is 3 mm from both sides and they are line perforated 11.5.
Complete sets also exist with all values imperforate.
Genuine covers are not common, since the stamps were in use a little over three months, September 8th to December 31st 1904.
After demonetization, sets of these stamps were sold at a reduced rate at the Belgrade post office from April 1908 to August 1911. The remainders were sold at auction in January 1911. 72,479 complete sets and larger quantities of lower value singles were sold.
2 forgeries are known to exist and both are easily discernible.
Lucien Smeets was a Belgian forger (Brussels) who operated around 1910.
His Serbian forgeries are considered to be much more plentiful than those of Fournier who may have only made the 5 and 50p.
Overall they all appear to be smudged.
The key features are the 4th & 5th letters of the upper right word.
The tail of the J cuts into the letter to the left.
This shows up in all his forgeries.
Right, Fournier taken from his album listing.
It is clearer than the Smeets.
The key features are the straight middle line of the P which does not slope upwards as with the original and the pronounced break in the nose bridge of the right king.
The lettering in the bottom ribbon is illegible.
The Definitive “King Peter Bareheaded” Issue of 1905
The design was created by the French engraver, Tasset, who also engraved the basic die in steel. The cliches were also prepared in Paris, but the printing was done in Belgrade by the State Printing Works in typography.
The stamps were issued on January 1, 1905, in 1, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 50 para and l , 3 and 5 dinar denominations.
The design measures 20 mm by 25.5 mm, the whole stamp, 23mm by 27 mm.
The stamps were printed in two operations. The frames, in different colors, were done first, then the medallion in black. There was a total of 6 printings
1st Printing: Thin paper, line perforated 11.5.
2nd Printing: Thick wove, pre-gummed paper, comb perforated12 x 11.5 – all values.
3rd Printing: Made in second half of 1905. On soft porous paper that absorbs ink, making colors appear darker. 15, 20, 25 and 50 para only.
4th Printing: 1908. Thick, horizontally laid paper. All para values.
5th Printing: Smooth slightly transparent paper, medium thick. Design appears blurred. All para values.
6th Printing: Thick, vertically laid paper. l, 5, 10 and 30 para values only.
Privately printed copies of some values, from the original cliches, have appeared both perforate and imperforate in different colors.
All values, with the exception of the 3 and 5 dinar stamps, were demonetized January 27, 1914. The 3 and 5 dinar were demonetized May 30, 1914.
1 para 7.160.300
5 para 28.404.200
10 para 26.147.800
15 para 2.409.100
20 para 2.968.000
25 para 4.721.800
30 para 2.463.000
50 para 3.244.800
1 dinar 857.600
3 dinar 117.400
5 dinar 146.200
Most books attribute the forgeries to Mirza Hadi who was of Persian origins and later became a stamp dealer in Paris and Monaco.
He was a prime figure in the massive counterfeiting of the early Transvaal stamps.
Ironically, although a very rich man, he reported that his wife had stolen 25,000Fr worth of stamps. She admitted that the value was more like 1000Fr and she did so because he was giving her and their son only 8Fr per month to live on. The court did not consider the petition as a wife could not be accused of stealing from her husband.
Pétition n° 145 du 6 avril 1965. — M. Mirza (Hadi), 10, rue des Giroflées, à Monte-Carlo (Monaco), a éte victime d’un vol de timbres de valeur. Bien que la police n’ait retrouvé qu’une partie de ceux-ci, le juge a prononcé un non-lieu. Le pétitionnaire protestecontre la loi qui a permis cette décision.
Hadi Forgeries above
Overall the colors are brighter and the King is very clearly defined.
For those who can tell the difference, the originals were done by typography while the forgeries were made by lithography.
They can be found on different papers and perfed both 11.5 and 12X11.5 (as with the original) .
There is also a difference in the frame size, 23 mm X 27 mm for the genuines, and 24 mm X 30 mm for the forgeries.
Forgeries are generally not used.
So how does one distinguish these excellent forgeries?
Most articles will tell you by the break in the top right frame that appears in all the Hadi forgeries.
Unfortunately, this does not always work.
In this Hadi block, the bottom left stamp clearly shows the break but the others do not!
BTW, Note the perforations in the center and corners, Hadi used a line perforation while the originals were comb perforated.
In all the genuines, the ends of the numerals are straight cut, in the forgeries, they are rounded.
On the PARA values, the tops of the A’s are rounded but flat on the genuine ones. Likewise with the bottom of the P and the first letter which also tends to have rounded shoulders instead of the square ones on the original.
On the DINAR values, we have the same issue of rounding of the ends and corners.
On the DINAR values, the arc of dots is replaced by a solid line but I cannot determine if this is constant.
On several values, the numerals are noticeably thinner.
Proofs or Remainders?
A lot of stamps show up on auctions in singles and blocks of “proofs”. I am inclined to think these might be some unfinished remainders.
Genuine left, forgery right.
In any event Hadi made forgeries of these.
They have the top right frame break and rounded edges of the numerals and letters mentioned previously.
From about 100 I have seen, very few were Hadi forgeries
The 1911 Issue-“King Peter with Cap”
The design for this issue was prepared by Miodrag Markovich, a lithographer employed by General Staff of the Army.
The die for it was cut in wood by Peter Anicich, an employee of the State Printing Works.
The work, modeled after a photograph of Peter, was crude and simple.
The cliches were prepared by the State Printing Works and the stamps were printed there by typography on medium thick chalk surfaced paper.
They were comb perforated 12 x 11.5 horizontally
The design measures 19.75 mm by 25.5 mm
Imperforate stamps from the original printing, but without gum, are from unfinished sheets which fell into enemy hands during World War I.
Genuine stamps from the first vertical row often have a double perforation on the left side.
I para, olive black
2 para, deep violet
5 para, yellow green
10 para, red carmine
15 para, purple
20 para, yellow
25 para, blue
30 para, blue green
50 para, grey brown
1 dinar, red orange
3 dinar, lake
5 dinar, violet
Here is where it gets interesting.
Several articles describe the existence of 1 main Hadi forgery type and sometimes allude to others that rarely show up.
Varo Tyler notes the main difference is the length of the line under the denomination. This may not be a definite situation.
I believe from my research that there exists at least 2 forgery types in fairly equal quantities and probably at least 1 more type.
It is quite possible that Smeets may have made forgeries of these issues.
Fournier also offers these forgeries in his 1914 price list.
Above, the “forgery” I have named Type I and the Hadi forgery.
The type I is noticeably taller than the genuine, the Hadi is slightly taller.
Note also that there is little or no difference with the line length under PARA which is noted to be a main forgery trait. This is not a constant as some have a significant difference in length.
The Type I P in PARA is higher than the other letters. This seems to be present in all cases.
The Hadi has thicker letters which makes the PARA indistinct.
Comparisons of the genuine 1911 and forgeries
Here we can see that under the eye, the genuine has a lot of dots, the Type I basically none and the Hadi a few.
In the Type I there is also less shading on the nose.
Both the Type I and the Hadi have a thick long curved white line under the epaulette. In the Type I there is a clear break in the line.
The 1 has a short serif in the Type I.
The 1914 Issue-“King Peter with Cap”
Around the end of 1913, an employee at State Control reported the existence of forgeries of the 20 para stamp. This later proved to be false.
The minister in charge, without waiting for the result of the investigation, ordered the demonetization of the issue, as of January 28, 1914 and the printing of a new issue in all values from the 5 para up. The old cliches and new colors were to be used.
The delay put the printing into the opening days of WWI and the Serbian government, threatened by the rapidly advancing Austro-Hungarian Army, ordered all postage to be burned and fled the town in panic.
This did not completely happen and a large quantity was saved by locals and sold.
Many from this printing are very scarce.
In particular the 3 and 5 dinar values were never completely printed and the CV is accordingly higher. Only a few covers with the 3d yellow are known.
The original cliches were apparently stolen from which excellent forgeries of all values were produced, perforated and imperforate, in different colors.
Forgeries were most probably produced many times over the years.
5 para, yellow green
10 para, vermilion
15 para, slate black
20 para, brown
25 para, deep blue
30 para, olive green
50 para, red brown
1 dinar, slate green
3 dinar, yellow
5 dinar, blue violet
Comparisons of the genuine 1914 and forgeries
Here’s where we see another possible forgery type
Genuine left, Image from Fournier album right
The forgery is excellent with only minor differences such as shading lines in the ear and cap medallion plus what might be some dark spots on the background lines and frame.
Unfortunately, I have not been able to discern any of these on auction sites.
The Principality of Serbia : postal history and postage stamps, 1830-1882 – Kardosch
The Postal History and Postage Stamps of Serbia – Rasic, Mirko R.
Focus On Forgeries – V. Tyler
Billig’s Grosses Handbuch der Falschungen, Lieferung Nr. 30: Serbien, O. Stiedl, F. Billig
Forgeries of All Countries – Dorn
Forgery CD – Evert Klaseboer
Handbuch der Briefmarken Serbien – Fleck, V. Neues
Forged Postage Stamps of Europe and Colonies – Bynof-Smith,