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Of the forgers, Bredermeyer, from Hamburg, came closest to the originals. The impression, the design, the color, etc., even surpassed the original, and at first they were regarded as reprints.
However, the forgery became apparent, due to various discrepancies.
Reprints of the stamps of Bremen do not exist.
We will focus on his forgeries at the end of the article.
A word of caution – these are generally high value stamps.
Many auctions (particularly in Europe) are selling these stamps with starting bids of $1 like the one below that would have a CV over $1000
As many of the Bremen stamps are far more valuable in a used state
Particular attention must be paid to the cancellations, for in this field, many forgeries were produced. It is advisable to consult an expert whenever the ‘least doubt exists with regard to the authenticity of any cancellation.
Even those tied to covers must be authenticated as some very good forgeries exist
The first stamp was issued on April 10th, 1855, its face value being 3 grote and it was intended for franking letters within the town (Bremen), including Bremerhaven and Vegesack.
The stamps were lithographed in Bremen.
The key is emblematic of the independence of the once free city.
The paper is laid and the laid lines may be found running both horizontally or vertically, the latter being a little the rarer unused and much rarer used.
Imperforate ( 1855). Rouletted ( 1863). Perforated 13 ( 1866)
Paper: Colored, horizontally or vertically laid. At the margins, watermarks of the paper manufacturer. Also on chalked paper.
Gum: Smooth, light color.
There are 3 types distinguished by the central bottom loop.
In the Type II , the top of the loop and frame line are one
Note the number of lines and the open top in Type III
There are other variations such as the position of the bottom tip of the shield relative to the circle below it.
The Genuine Issues
Characteristics of the Genuine
Some forgeries are quite good but they should fail in more than 1 of the following;
1. The genuine always has a dot on top of the crown
2. In some forgeries, the M & T may be joined
3. In the genuine, there are 4 circled white spaces in the 3’s
4. In some forgeries, the B may touch the top or bottom of the frame
5. In some forgeries, the 3 may touch the frame lines bottom right. Note the inclined right 3
6. In some forgeries, the S is taller than the other letters
7. The vertical lines go slightly past the top horizontal line.
8. In some forgeries, the tip of the key touches the line above
9. The thick vertical black shadow should be at the same level as the horizontal line of the shield
10. In the Type II, we have a diamond with a pearl on each side, this is reversed in the Type I & II
The main genuine cancels
1, 29 with the date in center, VEGESACK at the bottom, between the circles, and a little key, between two parentheses, at the top, between the circles
71. Also an oblong like 71, but with rounded corners.
BREMEN BAHNHOF in an ellipse.
FRANKO, in very large capitals, without a frame.
5, with numerals 303 in center.
TT and date in a circle.
BREMEN TH. & TX.
Some Good Forgeries
A series of 6 Sperati forgeries
Genuine Type I left, Sperati Type I right
1. Lots of artifacts & generally poor printing
2. No vertical shield lines extending past frame
3. Thick white borders around ornaments
4. These do not touch in Type I
5. Shadow tip not centered with round object below.
6. Small shaded area
7. Very small lobe
Left genuine, right Fournier Forgery
1. position of dot
2. Shapes wrong
3. Body of key too wide
4. No space
5. White borders too wide
6. Should not touch frame in a Type I
7. Lobes too small, on left side too large
8. Characteristic shape of “3” for a Fournier forgery
9. Top tip points out instead of down.
The next stamp to appear was the 5 grote, which was created to prepay the single letter rate to Hamburg. This value was issued on April 4th, 1856, and was also lithographed.
There were two drawings of the design, differing in small particulars, and the transfers were applied to the lithographic stone in pairs.
Imperforate (1856), Rouletted (1862), Perforated 13 (1867)
Paper: first issue thin paper, second issue thicker paper.
Gum: Smooth, light.
These seem to be one of the most prolific forgeries on auction sites.
Characteristics of the Genuine 5gr
1. The genuine has a dot in each corner
1a . Note the position of the waves which is different for the 2 types\
2. We have a triangular object here
2a. There are 30 vertical lines of shading in the Type I and 28 similar lines in the Type II.
3. In the Type II the right leg of the M is taller than the left. In the Type I they are equal
4. The crown has a diamond with a pearl on each side
5. There are twelve vertical Lines in the shield .
In type I the first line on the left is very near the frame line of the shield.
In type II this line is further away from the frame line of the shield.
6. Note the shape of the keyhole;e and the background lines inside
7. In Type I the top of the second “f” of “funf” touches the horizontal bar.
In Type II the head of this letter is separated from the bar .This is not clear in all examples
7a. In the Type I the bottom of the crown touches the wavy line but not in the Type II
8. The “F” of “FRANCO” touches with its upper spur the ‘r” in the Type II
In the Type I it is separated from the “r”
Left excellent Sperati forgery of a Type II. There are only minor variations in the wave and letters as well as a black point in the pearl of the crown , visible above.
This may be the only forgery with points in the corners.
Right no dots in corners, wave background not wavy enough, keyhole distorted.
Left Type II forgery, no dots in corners, keyhole lacking lines , looks like a flower
Note the “n” in “Marken”. This is apparently a design submitted but not approved.
The printers then sold the sheets (220?) to a stamp dealer (Bredemeyer?) so one can expect to see these in auctions.
These should only be found as unused and are valued at less than 1/10th the original.
It was not until July 10th, 1860, that another value was issued.
This was the 7 grote issued for defraying the rate of postage to Lubeck and Mecklenburg-Schwerin.
Correspondence in this direction could not have been very frequent as the 7gr used is a very scarce variety.
There is only one type of this value and, like the 5gr, there are dividing lines between the stamps on the sheet.
Imperforate (1860) . Rouletted (1862), Perforated 13 (1867)
Paper : first issue thin paper, second issue thicker paper.
Gum: Light, very often with little bubbles.
Characteristics of the Genuine 7gr
1. There is a dot in the “k” of “Marke” at the beginning of the slanting limb. This was considered as a “secret mark”. A tiny dot may also be visible in the upper part of the “r”
1a. Both lobes of the tree-foil touch the frame line on the right but only one on the left touches.
2. The vertical lines in the shield protrude over the upper frame line.
3. The center lines in the body of the key are not broken.
3a. Note the thick line on the right ornament versus the very thin on the left side.
4. There are eighteen vertical lines in the shield.
4a. A very large dot which is not prominent or missing in some forgeries
5. The “b” in “Sieben” is open at the bottom.
6. Two short vertical dashes between the frame lines under the “i” of “Sieben.” ‘This may be hard to discern.
7. There are dots in the jewels
8. There are 27 vertical lines in the shaded ornament at the center of the top of the stamp,
and the central line is drawn up through the inner boundary-line at the top of the stamp, and joins the thick outline above it.
Left excellent Sperati, a few letters are off such as the closed “b” and the shape of the “t”
Right a more modern Peter Winter forgery, the dot in the “k” is missing. The lines in the shield do not protrude past the horizontal line. The “b” is completely closed. The left tre-foil lobes touch the frame.
On December 13th, 1861, a stamp of 5sgr was issued to prepay the ship rate to Great Britain.
There is only one type of this stamp.
This value is found in several distinct shades of green and, unused, is commonest on thick paper.
Imperforate ( 1861) , Rouletted ( 1863), Perforated 13 ( 1867)
Paper : Medium strong, glossy. Also heavy chalked paper.
Gum : Brownish, striped, brush strokes often visible.
Characteristics of the Genuine 5sgr
1. The upper right corner ornament consists is a circle with a heavier lower half circle , the others are half circles.
2. The outer line of the second border ornament on the right, from the top, is thickened. In most cases it looks like 1 thick line.
3. There is a dot on the left and right below the center oval, inside the ornament.
3a. The bottom of the “g” rests on the line. Some forgeries it is below the line.
4. There are shade lines above ” 5 Sgr.”. Very difficult to see
4a. There are horizontal lines of shading both sides.
5. There is a dot in the corner of the left ornament but none in the right
5a. There are 59 vertical lines behind the shield, counting along the top.
6 . The shield with the inscription “BREMEN” is not connected on the left with the hatched centerpiece.
7. The end stroke of the “R” in ” BREMEN ” is lengthened and curved slightly.
8. The shield containing the word “BREMEN” is joined to the centerpiece.
10. Note the outer guide lines
Left a Peter Winter Forgery with a typical cancel, overall decent but several of the genuine traits missing
Right a crude forgery with most of the genuine traits missing, note the cross shaped keyhole
A Sperati block which I have seen noted as genuine on some websites.
It is excellent, only some minor letter variations, size of vertical lines and blotches of ink particularly noticeable in the bottom left stamp.
On the same day that the 5sgr stamp was issued a 10 grote stamp was placed in circulation for prepayment of the single letter rate to the Netherlands.
There is only one type for this value and the stamps have dividing lines between them on the sheet.
Rouletted ( 1861). Perforated 13 (1867).
Paper: Thin to medium strong.
Characteristics of the Genuine 10gr
1. 3. There are small dashes on the left side in the ” 0″. The “0” is also flattened slantingly at the bottom. This is the same for the other “0”s
2. The vein in the right leaf extends almost to the tip but not so in the left.
2x. The top link of this right lower chain is almost non existent.
2a. There are 5 vertical lines in the opening.
3a. The middle bar slants downwards and appears broken in many specimens.
3b. The serif of this 1 is separated from the body by a thin line.
3c. Many examples show a break in this line.
4. The background line crosses the oval frame.
5. There is a little notch in the upper part of the ” B” of “BREMEN”
6. The 1 has a bulge in it.
7. The “0” in the upper left figure of value is usually open or very thin.
8. There are thin shading lines on this side between the frame lines.
9. There is a little dot in the upper part of the ” R” of “BREMEN”
10. In many specimens there is a white dot below the ” E” of “BREMEN”
11. The left side of the “M” is deformed.
12. The top right 1 has a very short serif.
X. The tre-foil ornament, outside the left top corner of the stamp, contains seven black lines, the third from the left being very long; the tre-foil in the right top corner has five lines, the trefoil in the left and right bottom corners have six lines.
Left, a fair imitation, the “10” top left is too closed & no bulge in the “1”, the chains only have 2 or 1 link, the corner elements are lacking rays,
the “H” has no slant in the crossbar, serifs on the “1” are short, the tip of the key has no oval.
Right, a good forgery from an auction, the “10” top left is too closed & no bulge in the “1, serif on top right “1” wrong
In 1861-63 the 3gr, 5gr, 10gr and 5sgr were issued with the perces en scie roulettes but the 7gr, for which there was only a small demand, is not known in that condition.
The 3gr, like the imperf. variety is found on laid paper while the other two values are on wove paper.
The same types of the 3gr and 5gr exist as the original stones were used.
The characteristics are basically the same as the imperforated stamps.
The main difference between the imperforated 5sgr stamps and the rouletted and perforated ones is on the pendant.
The imperforated stamps show but a few horizontal shade lines, whereas the rouletted and perforated stamps have two fine lines running parallel to the outside lines in the end of the right pendant.
On April 29th, 1863, a new value, 2 grote, was issued this for the single letter rate between Bremen and Vegesack.
This value was lithographed in orange varying in shades and, like the 10 grote, was never issued as an imperforate.
The two grote was the last stamp to be issued and no further changes were made until 1867
Characteristics of the Genuine 2gr
1. Heavy shadow around key
2. Dot inside the A – very faint
3. Large Dot
4. Note shape of letters especially the ‘G” and uneven spacing
5. Note the shape of the curls
6. Ellipse shape inside the “D”
7. Shadow of key touches frame in 3 places
8. Note the shape of the ’2” particularly the ends and thickness of the foot.
9. A dot inside the “P”
10. A dot inside the top and bottom of the ‘S”
In 1867 all six values were placed in circulation perforated 13,
The 3gr is on laid paper as before, all the others being on wove. \Of note, these are generally poorly printed.
The dividing lines were removed from the stone of the 7gr and though the lines remained on the other values they did not always print distinctly.
Most of the values of this set are considerably rarer used than unused for not only did they have a very short life, but a number of remainders came on the market in 1868 (Bredemeyer?).
There is a 1903 post in the Monthly Journal that in December 1868 a Mr. Van Rinsum, of Amsterdam, passing through Bremen, purchased the whole stock of stamps there, for cash , at the high price of 5 thalers (actually a good deal).
These forgeries are quite good and very available.
They are well made and fool most collectors
The Serrane Guide to Stamp Forgeries
H. Bynof-Smith: Forged Postage Stamps of Europe and Colonieis
Album Weeds – How to Detect Forged Stamps, R.B. Earée: 3rd Edition
650 falsche stempel und Prufzeichen BDph
German Philatelic Society Reference Manual of Forgeries
Fritz Billig: Großes Handbuch der Fälschungen, Bremen 1934
Distinguishing Characteristics of Classic Stamps: Old German States, Hermann Schloss
Germany States Vol 1, Muller, 1933
The Forged Stamps of All Countries, Dorn, J.
Altdeutschland spezial-katalog und handbuch, Grobe 1963
Bergedorfer postgeschichte : von den anfangen bis 1868, Karl Knauer 1961
Handbuch Der Neudrucke , Paul Ohrt, 1938.
Handbok för filatelister Sigurd Tullberg.
Étude sur les Faux Timbres d’Europe, A. de Haene
Bayern spezial katalog 1976 : kreuzerausgaben stempelteil