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Hamburg is a somewhat treacherous group to collect. Not so much because of the actual forgeries but due to the altered genuines, fake cancels and the large numbers of reprints/forgeries.

The first two issues of Hamburg, the imperforated as well as the perforated, were produced from the same plate, and consequently, show the same earmarks .
These stamps were apparently sold mainly in strips, so blocks are VERY rare.
In so far as the first issue is concerned, care must be taken, above all, that an item is not of the second issue with the perforation cut off. Items with small margins must be rejected at once, but even if the margins are wide on one or two sides, it still cannot be definitely said that it is really an imperforated specimen, for the distance between the stamps on the sheet is: horizontally 3 1/2 mm, vertically 1 1/2  mm to 2 mm. The width of the top and bottom margins must therefore be at least 1.6 mm. There are vertical dividing lines between the stamps.
Another identifying mark is the bar cancellation, of which on the first issue there are apparently no thick black or blue bar cancels.

These thick or blue cancels are probably perforated issues with the perfs cut off

Genuine cancels

Conversely, perforated stamps of the second issue were produced by changing imperforated specimens. However, this occurs mostly in the 7 Schilling orange, since this stamp has far more value perforated than otherwise. Usually, such a forgery may easily be discovered, for the perforation, which should be 13 1/2, is rarely exact. The size of a stamp , including the margins, must be at least 21 1/2 X  25 1/2 mm. in order to be regarded as an unquestionably genuine imperforated specimen.

There apparently are no reprints of the first and second issues.

There are differences in the perforations and watermarks of genuines vs reprints but the focus of this article and others is to attempt to identify fakes and forgeries prior to obtaining the stamps so rather than an extensive display of these spurious items, we will concentrate mainly on what constitutes a genuine stamp. Note that some genuine stamps are not watermarked depending on position and some reprints are watermarked so saying that watermark presence or lack is a definite test is not correct.


Note that not all the following features are always visible.

1859 Mi 1 & Mi 10

Features to look for in the genuine.
1. Dot at the bottom of the “H”.
2. Often a break in the scroll.
3. The top of the “M” has a dot which may look attached or be separated.
4. The left side of the “M” is separated from the foot.
5. The top of the cross is broken
6. A tiny dot after the “G”
6a. The tip of the star almost touches the tower.
7. The top serif of the “L” is separated.
8. Separation in the line, dot & ornament.
9. The bottom of the “E” is broken
10. Separation between the line and scroll.
11. Top of the “T” is broken
12. Dots in the line.
13. Small protrusion from the base of the “1”

Genuine cancel

Genuine 1864 Mi 10


Left, a forgery lacking most of the genuine traits – many letters joined on the bottom
Right, a genuine stamp altered with thick non existent “blue” cancel to increase the value

Left, a genuine with fake extremely thick cancel, Right, ludicrous example selling on eBay as a $35 “facsimile”

Another forgery – cross touches frame, “T & E” not broken, Right bottom scroll line not broken, right star no bottom point, many others

Based on my research, at least 3/4 of the cancelled 1/2 S on eBay & others are FAKES

1859 Mi 2 & Mi 11

Features to look for in the genuine.
1. Dot inside the bottom of the “A”
1a. Small dot or dash
2. A large dot only present on a few examples – adds value
3. Flat bottom of “U”.
4. Line above the “U R”
5. Bottom of “R” extends and ends in a dot.
5a. Top of cross does not touch the scroll frame.
6. Small dot
7. Foot of “M” separated from the vertical stroke.
8. Right top of “T” broken.
9. Left foot of “T” broken
9a. Small dot just below left bottom of “S”.
10. Left line not connected to scroll.
11. Small dot
12. Line inside the “1”. May be very large or hardly noticeable.

Genuine 1864 Mi 11


Left, decent forgery lacking most traits – note the cross touching the frame & large stars.
Right with main areas of issues shown.

1859 Mi 3 & Mi 13

Features to look for in the genuine.
1. 2 small dots
2. Top of “B” is broken.
3. Small dot between “B & U”.
4. Small projection top of “U” left.
5. Small projection on left side of star.
6. Small dash above “g”.
7. Dot before first “l”
8. Bulge inside top of “S”

Vermilion & Red varieties

Genuine 1864 Mi 13


Left, an Mi 13 with perfs cut ( still visible at the top)
Right, a very poor eBay forgery

Left, fake cancel “HAMBURG” with stars
Right, a forgery with fake cancel

This fake cancel shows up often with various dates but primarily “66 & 67”. The stars are the key trait.

It is noted that Goldner may have obtained a set of cancels from an official but there is also note that the large stars denote it is completely fabricated.

1859 Mi 4 & Mi 15

Features to look for in the genuine.
1. Dot in front of “H”.
1a. Short last line with small dot at the end.
2. Dot top left of “A”.
2a. The star is often broken bottom left.
3. Generally a space between the dot and ornament.
4. Serif is broken and there is a series of dots above it.
5. Small dot top right of “P”.
5a. Smal mark inside the “3” – not always visible.
6. Small dots.
7. Small dash above center of “3”.

1865 Mi 15a Dark Ultra & 1864 15b Prussian Blue

2 plate varieties of Mi 15

1859 Mi 5 & Mi 16

Features to look for in the genuine.
1. Scroll end right small dash
2. Scroll end left,dot with dash above it
3. Dot
4. Dot above the “E”
4a. Outside frame line broken at top right.
4b. 2 small dots
5. Small dot
6. Damaged corner with heavier line.
7. Dent in end of horizontal stroke.
8. Projection inside left star.
9. Top of “4” broken.

Genuine 1864 Mi 16a & 1864 16b (bluish green)

Typical eBay offering – perfs cut & fake cancel. These abound in the auctions

1859 Mi 6 & Mi 17

Features to look for in the genuine.
1. Dot inside lower part of “R”
2. Right foot of “R” ends in upwards point
3. Top of E curved inwards.
4. Dot between feet of “A”
5. Scroll line broken, ends in large dot.
5a. Dot right of ornament.
6. Dash in top left serif of “7”
7. Broken frame line.

Genuine 1864 Mi 17

An item certified by the Royal Philatelic as Mi 17 but given the condition of the perfs, it is more likely a re-perfed Mi 6

Mi 7 & Mi 18

Features to look for in the genuine.
1. Line may show breaks
2. Extended right foot of “R”.
3. Dots above the “E”
4. Lines of shading below the “E” attached.
5. End of curl touches frame above.
6. End of curl does not touch frame above.
7. Small dot between “P & O”.
8. Lines of shading above the “P”

Genuine 1864 Mi 18

Fake cancels – the “Hamburg” cancel with stars is a well known forgery
Both these stamps are very rare used and were on eBay as genuine for far less than the CV.
The left one shows signs of cut perfs on the bottom.

1864 MI 8 & Mi 12

Due to the hasty manufacture little care was taken always to use the same shades of color, and so the 11/4 Schilling value is to be found in nearly all shades of the color chart of this color group.

Features to look for in the genuine.
1. Left star has 6 points with shading lines inside
2. The “A” has an elongated left foot and a fairly heavy line running through the center.
3. The “M” is broader than the other letters
4. The left top bar of the “U” is missing
5. The right star has 5 points with shading inside.
6. Large dot after the “E”
6a. “K & E” are joined.
7. The vertical line just in front of the “M” curves in.

Shades (b, c, d, e, f, g) of the 11/4

Genuine 1864 Mi 12 ai & 12al

2 plate varieties of Mi 12


Lots of issues but primarily the “U” has a large left serif & no dot after the bottom right “E”


I. 1872. Very bad printing, unwatermarked, tones of other colors.
As a rule, the color is pink-lilac. The inside part of the stars are smudged.

II. 1880. Very bad printing, watermarked, varying shades of color.
Mostly, the color is pink-lilac, and there are many patches of color in the stamp design .

III. So called private reprints (forgeries really) were produced by the Hamburg stamp dealer Goldner who purchased a lot of remainder stock. They are produced on various papers and in many varied colors and denominations.

1864 Mi 9 & Mi 14

Features to look for in the genuine.
1. Five point stars with shading lines inside pointing to the tips.
1a. Large comma shape almost touches the frame line.
2. Diagonal shading in the corner ornaments. The left ones tend to be more pronounced.
3. Long stroke on the top left of the “W”
4. Dot after the “u”.
5. The back line of the “b” generally tends to curve downwards.
6. The left frame line is much thicker than the right one.

Genuine Mi 9

Mi 14 color variety


Based on what appears to be perf remnants, this eBay offer would be another attempt to increase the value

Unwatermarked reprints only exist of this value. The color is yellow green.

2 Goldner Reprints – a lot of finer details are lacking. Perfs are 11.5 instead of 13.5

Reprint block showing the fine dividing lines

1865 Mi 19

Above, rare imperf Mi 19u
Features to look for in the genuine.
1. Six point stars, right side generally thick
1a. Note shape of cross
2. Foot of “R” ends in dot and vertical protrusion.
3. Center line of “G” extended.
4. Top of “E” curves slightly downwards.
5. Thin upper part of “K”, horizontal center line bairly visible.
6. Top left of “P” has a dash slightly above the letter.
7. Dot between ornaments.
8. Dash not connected to back of “B”
9. Line connecting “n” to ornament.
10. 2 small dots

Genuine Mi 19

1866 Mi 20

The 2 1866 issues are rouletted 10, unwatermarked and embossed

Mi 20l with broken “B”
Features to look for in the genuine.
1. The corner lines are graduated in thickness.
2. The floral ornaments have a central white dot.
3. There is a small line that goes through the oval of the “g”.
4. Small dent in the top of the “4”.
5. Missing lines in brickwork.
6. Break in inner frame.
7. Right side of “U” generally very faint.
8. Right side of “V” generally very faint.
Note that the break in the inner top right frame above the “G” seems to be fairly consistent.

Reprint & Forgery

Very tiny white dots in rosettes
The “g” is cut by the frame
The “u & V” have strong right sides
The top left corner, the 2 lines are almost equal thickness
No break in bricks or the inner frame.
Shading in the “1”
Size of the reprint: 19 X 23 mm. The original 19 2/5 X 21 1/5mm

1890 Bestelmeyer reprint

These values exist as imprints on envelopes, without the filled up corners.
Great care must thus be taken in buying such stamps to be sure one is not getting a cut-out envelope on which the 1 1/4, Schilling value has been faked through artificial addition of the corner lines .

In 1978, the printer Gehringer also made reprints of the 1 1/4 Sch and 1 1/2 Sch stamps of Hamburg. Enormous quantities were printed, the quality is very good (the embossing on the backside of the stamp can clearly be seen). I do not believe that these are rouletted like the originals

Gehringer 1978 Reprint. If the number on the sheet is any indication, the vast numbers of these forgeries is evident.

1866 Mi 21

Features to look for in the genuine.
1. The “g” is thicker than the other letters. There is also a small vertical stroke in the top oval. The bottom of the letter barely touches the frame.
2. The “K” is slightly higher than the adjoining letters. The lower part is smaller than the upper part.
3. The “i & n” are joined
4. The “i & n” are joined
5. The “a, l & b” are joined.
6. The rosettes have a central white dot.

Note that unlike the 11/4, there are no corner frames.


Very tiny white dots in rosettes or missing completely
The “g” is clearly attached to the frame
The “K” is the same height as adjoining letters
The vertical stroke in the “g” is pronounced and long.
Height of the reprint: 22 l/5mm., of the original: 21 4/5mm.

1867 Mi 22

Above, Mi 22b Dark Opal Green
Features to look for in the genuine.
1. Small dot in front of the “E”
2. Thin right upper and moddle horizontal line is almost invisible
3. Small protrusion on left side of “R”
4. Right bottom of “M” is joined.
4a. Dot after “u” – may be joined to letter
5. Outside frame line bows out slightly.
6. Large Dot and small dot below it (may not be visible)
7. Very broad right end of G”

Mi 22b

Fantasy Issues – Goldner probably