Crete – Forgeries under British Administration – 1898-99

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On November 25, 1898, the assistant-commissioner, Major W. E. Fairholme issued a decree, establishing a postal service in the British sector, which in many cases co-operated with the Austrian post office.
Postage stamps with values of 10 and 20 parades were ordered in Athens.
When these stamps did not arrive in time, provisional stamps were made locally after a design of the director of the Austrian post office in Candia
A copper hand-stamp was used to produce the stamps

They stamps were printed using a bright violet ink.
The paper used is thin ‘wove’ and slightly grayish yellow colored. Sometimes the paper is ‘laid’ instead of ‘wove’.
3000 stamps were printed and issued, but in the early booklet by Poole he mentions that 1000 pieces were bought by a British officer and 500 pieces by a private person, so only 1500 pieces came into circulation.
After printing the hand-stamp was destroyed.

There are 6 known forgery types of this stamp and given the rather crude nature of the original and the method of application, these forgeries can easily go unnoticed. In fact I have seen some on reputable auctions that are quite probably one of these types of forgeries.

Characteristics of the Genuine 1898 SC# 1
Compared to a forgery (right)

In the genuine:
1. The top-borderline slopes down slightly to the right.
2. The bottom borderline is lightly curved.
3. The first and the last character of the word ПPOΣQPINON are touching the margins.
4. In the same word the characters ПPand PIN are connected.
5. In the word TAXYΔPOM. All characters except the M are connected.
6. In the word HPAKΛEIOY all characters except the last two, are connected.
7. In ПAPMEΣ only the Σ is not connected. 2 and 0 are connected at the top.

Two genuine clearly showing the required traits.

The left one is from a prominent auction that sold for $150. The cancel is also fake.
These forgery fail the genuine tests in several places
Note the very round corners, the top margin slopes up as does the bottom, a few letters that should be or not be joined are missing.

1898-99 Issue
In December 1898, the stamps ordered from Athens arrived in values of 10 parades pale blue and 20 parades green. The stamps were designed and lithographed by the Athens printing office of Grundman & Stangel in sheets of 100 pieces, line perforated 11.5.

The stock of stamps ran low quickly and new stamps were ordered from the same printing office. The 10 parades changed from pale blue to pale brown and the 20 parades changed from green to red.
The British postal service was closed down on 24 July 1899 but the stamps remained in use till 1 March 1900.

Above, genuine issues. The blue imperforate is possibly a proof although some actual  issues are known imperforate but are rare,

Genuine Sc2 & Sc3 with common cancel

Characteristics of the transfers

Both Type V

Type 4 and Type 10

Type 5

Type 5 & 8

Forgery Types
The first type of forgeries are often called ‘reprints’. This is not true because, although the first types of forgeries were inevitably printed by Grundman & Stangel on the same paper, with the same colors and the same perforation 11 1/2, however, they came from another printing stone and they do not match the original transfers.

Generally all the forgeries are said to be easily identified by the broken circle as shown above

HOWEVER, the broken circle is NOT a definitive test for all forgeries.
The one above is genuine.
It is one of the plate varieties (Type V of the 2nd 10 parades transfer, see below) that the circle is broken
It has 2 other identifying characteristics
1. The frame ornament is broken
2. There is a thick dash here above the horizontal line
There are other instances where the circle cannot be defined or may be missing altogether.
In the 10 parades first transfer the 10th stamp has no circle

Above, an actual Type I forgery

In the second type of forgeries (above) the perforation is different, they measure is 11 1/4 instead of 11 1/2 and the perforation holes are smaller. The colors differ only slightly from the originals and the paper is very similar to the original paper.

These 4 are considered type 3 forgeries  with deeper colors and rough perforations.
They seem to be very common.

This imperf pair claimed to be proofs are probably forgeries as they do not plate

In this block we can see the very faint circle in the top 2 prominent ones on the lower 2.

Crete – Forgeries under Russian Administration – 1899

These stamps pose a great problem to most collectors as there are so many variables given the colors, hand printing and Sokhatine creations.
The first stamps were printed one by one by means of a hand-stamp on a sheet of paper on which , beforehand, pencil-lines were drawn forming a sheet of 100 stamps.
These lines were not very consistent.
These pencil lines are not a guarantee of genuineness but only one consideration.
The first issued stamps were the 1 M. blue and the 2 M. rose to red. Soon, after about 4 days the rose colour of the 2M., being vague and indistinct, was changed to black.
The blue and black are fairly consistent in color. The Green has shades but the rose varies greatly from grey-rose to brown.
Later, not only was the colour of the 1 M. blue changed to green but also the picture of the stamp was changed, in which the French text was changed into Greek.
The 1 M. is only found with a violet control-mark and the same goes for the 2 M. Rose

The numbers printed, issued and remainders
1 Metallik blue 4800 4800 none
2 Metallik rose 1200 1200 none
1 Metallik green 10440 9222 1218
2 Metallik black 12965 11675 1290
The remainders were burnt under supervision.

Left Sc10 with a Selia (Village in Crete) CV ~ 15X more than PEOYMNON postmark
Right Sc11

Left higher CV SC12, Right the redesigned Sc13

 Printing the stamps one by one was given to the Russian soldier Alexander Sokhatine.
For reasons unknown, he produced stamps in different colours using the original dies and applied the original control marks and postal cancellations.
So we have 2M green, violet and blue on laid and quadrille paper, 1M in violet on wove and violet on laid paper.

Possible Sokhatine issues


1. The eye and the beak in the left head of the double headed eagle are mostly closed in the forgeries and open in the genuine stamps.
2. The left wing of the eagle in the genuine stamps looks as if it is in molt and the feathers of the left wing in the forgeries are neatly in place.
3. The dot in the left ornament of the genuine stamps always touches whilst in the forgeries it is mostly separate.
Due to inking & hand-stamping, these conditions may vary.

Forgery – note left & right middle ornaments, separated dots, left head of eagle filled in, left wing complete

The blue 1M appears to be the most often forged of the series

The genuine above
1. Break in the line , either a single and sometimes 2
2. The end letters MNO are broken, the R may also be broken
3. These items tend to not touch one another
4. Note the tall E &T and the inclined top of the T, short A
Typical of a common forgery, the neck of the eagle on the right is generally broken

Left, Fournier forgery, top letters clear, bottom letters not sized properly, outer elements touch each other
Right, same issues as Fournier and eagle neck is broken

The PEOYMNON postmarks in the genuine stamps are mostly blue and sometimes violet but never black. In the forgeries they are in most cases black and occasionally blue.

Most postmark forgeries are easy to detect

The bottom stroke of the E tends to be longer than the top
The following letter has a prominent dot in the center. In forgeries it is missing or a dash
The Y is distanced from the adjoining letters.

A large control mark was applied to each block of 4. This is infrequently missing on one stamp.
The control mark of the originals the outer circle is thicker than the inner circle.
There are many faked control marks in which the outer circle has the same thickness as the inner circle

The small control marks are also forged.
In the genuine control mark, the diameter is 11 1/2 mm and the eagle is placed to the left.
As in the picture below, the horizontal top element often touches the wing on the right.
In the forged control mark the diameter is nearly 12 mm and the eagle is exactly in the middle of the circle.

Genuine control mark

Listing of varieties

1899 Litho Issues
Because printing the stamps one by one was too long-winded, the postal authorities decided to order stamps at the Athens printing office of Grundman & Stangel.
The control mark colours are blue or violet. Sometimes they are so vague that they are hardly visible.
In all values and all colours, imperforate and ungummed proofs are known.
There are 4 types of each value in both series that further indicate their genuineness.

First Litho series without Stars

Sc15 & 19

Sc21 & 24

Sc27 & 30


2nd Litho Series with stars
Because the first issue was sold out immediately, a second issue was ordered at Grundman & Stangel’s in the same 3 values but now in only four colours, blue, green, lilac and rose. The printing stones of the first issue were destroyed and therefore new stones were produced for which original sketches were used, in which a few alterations were made.
First, in the white band above PEOYMNHE two stars were added and secondly the double circle around the top value numerals were changed to thick single circles. Furthermore, the lower value numerals are not white anymore.

Sc36 & 37

Sc39 & 40

Sc43 & 45

The Forgeries

In the genuine stamps, the top right leaf is narrow and has ribs. In the forgeries the leaf is wide and has no ribs.

The foot of the trident is conical in the genuine stamps (left above) but straight in the forgeries,
The control mark is also very different.



The sharp perfed stamps are deeper colors than the rough perf ones.

Although those with stars have a much higher CV, the auctions have many more of those without stars.

There is one group of forgeries that do not show the above characteristics but are noticeably paler in color.
As well the printers Grundman & Stangel made forgeries not from the original stone but by using original sketches.
The perforation of these forgeries is 11 1/2 but generally rough, while in the original stamps, the perforation is always sharp. Several of the above with ragged perfs are probably these types.
To add to this confusion, there is also noted a forged 2 Metallik, in a deep black, almost perfect but the size is 22.5 x 33.25 mm instead of 23 x 34 mm

The eagle control marks are also forged.

In the genuine control-mark, the diameter is 11 1/2 mm and the eagle is placed to the left.
In the forged control mark the diameter is nearly 12 mm and the eagle is exactly in the middle of the circle.

Genuine postmarks from Rethymnon are, in most cases, blue, but sometimes violet. Forged postmarks are sometimes blue but mostly black.

above is genuine

Forgeries can also be easy to detect because the Θ has no dot in the middle and is much narrower.
In other forgeries there is a small stroke instead of a dot and the characters are much thinner

It is not unusual to see postings of “rare or errors” of this series.
In fact these are generally plate variations which is also probably the best method of verifying this issue

This eBay example is typical. It is not an “error” dot but a Type III variety

Forgeries of the 1905 Revolutionary Issues

The revolution began on Nov 3, 1905 and was ended by the interference of,  mainly Russian, forces at the end of autumn 1905.
The revolutionary headquarters was situated in Therison
Because the Cretan postal service no longer functioned in the revolutionary territory, they established, their own postal service, at the end of August, using their own stamps.
Several catalogs do not include them as they feel they had no postal value and were only issued for dealers and collectors.

Genuine Issues
The first stamps were issued between 30 August and 1 September 1905 and are very primitive hand-stamped stamps. They were printed by D. Kokinokos, who printed 5400 pieces of each value.
In the rectangle at the top of the stamps the inscription reads: ‘Provisional Government Crete’ below it, abbreviated, ‘Postal Service’.
At the bottom of the stamp, the value is printed, 5 to 50 lepta and 1 drachma. The circular mark in the middle of the stamps, represents Nike the Goddess of Victory and the word ‘Enosis’ = ‘Union’
Some rare double prints exist



A block of genuine stamps

The Forgeries
Forgeries of these account for at least 75% of the stamps on sale.

The key feature is that unlike the genuine above, the first 2 letters are clear and the frame to the left is not broken.

Careful examination will also show some minor differences in the central Nike and the top letters.

The Un-issued Series


Genuine unissued

It is generally accepted that these stamps were printed before the regular issue and were disapproved by the revolutionary government because they did not emphasize the idea of ‘Enosis’.
They are considered as un-adopted designs, found in large quantities and having hardly more than curiosity value.
Forgeries of these exist and there are many varieties with double print, missing map, tete-beche and printed both sides. The printing can be in blue, green or red


The true forgery on the left is easily recognized by the unbroken map of Crete and some differences in the letters.
The one on the right may be a forgery but the key is the fake cancel recognizable by the double line.

The Second Genuine Issue
Known as the revolutionary issues territory was situated in the Italian sector, around their headquarters, which was situated in Therison.
Because the Cretan postal service no longer functioned in the revolutionary territory, they established,
their own postal service, at the end of August, using their own stamps.
Several catalogs do not list them as they are of the opinion that they were not of any postal value and functioned more as a means of acquiring funds from dealers/collectors.
The stamps were designed by K. Mitsotakis. On the lepta values a sitting mourning woman is depicted, symbolizing ‘Crete in slavery’ and on the drachmae values King George X of Greece is seen. These stamps were printed by Grundman & Stangel in Athens, on white paper and perforated 11 1/2 . This printing firm probably had a hand in the reprint/forgeries.
These reprints pose a problem for the collector as they are more numerous than the originals and essentially identical to the originals.
There are differences in paper, colour and details. Since the same dies were used, they may have been worn thereby resulting in less detail.
Some authors describe them as being generally heavily inked.

Michel 2015 listing

Genuine/Reprint/Forgery Comparison
Forgeries and reprints of these stamps greatly outnumber the originals.
The paper of the genuine stamps is white, thin and a little shiny, whilst the paper of the forgeries is dull and somewhat yellow-brownish tinted. There are also noted differences in the color.

In the original stamps the perforation is exactly 11 1/2; in the forgeries, a large variety of perforations is seen, 11, 11 1/4, 13, 14 1/2 and even combined perforations 14 1/2-13 and 13 X 14 1/2

A genuine set, note the thin line near the perfs. Click for a larger image

Lepta values ‘Crete in slavery’
50,000 were printed of each lepta value
The key to the lower lepta values lies in the genuine having a thick single frame line whereas the forgery has a thin double line (see below).
Note also that one should almost always see a thin outer frame or guide line near or on the perforations.

Imperforate stamps are seen of each value but may be proofs, found when the printing office of Grundman & Stangel was closed.
There is a notation that imperforates are all back stamped as below. I cannot confirm that this always applies.

Genuine and forgery
The rough perfs are common in forgeries.

Another forgery

Original and reprint or worn die?


Probable Reprint and Forgery

Drachmae values King George X of Greece
In the drachmae values there are differences in the ornament in the S.E. corner of the top tablet, especially in the middle leaf.
The inner line is not double but more of a single thicker line.

Probable late Original and Reprint


These blanks show up on auctions as proofs but may just be unfinished remainders.

This value appears to be the most common on auctions appearing in singles, pairs and blocks. Originals above.

Inverts are also available

Original and possible Reprint


Another Forgery

 A large number of forged postmarks also exist, among which is the common Therison cancel with a double circle instead of a single one shown below on genuine stamps.

 Many of the postmarks have incorrect Cyrillic characters. The genuine are shown below.

There are also a number of forged postmarks with spelling mistakes such as BAMOE instead of BAMOΣ and OEPIΣON instead of ΘEPIΣON . They are often found on genuine stamps.

In the Italian district, no post offices were established for civilians except in La Canea (Chania) which handled only military and official post from 1898 till Jan. 1900
All Italian stamps with La Canea postmarks are rare to very rare, especially on letters, as a result, forgeries are plentiful and varied.

Forged overprints are especially found on the scarce 10c. no. 6 and the 5 Lire no. 13 and are also found less frequently on the other values. The genuine overprints are a little larger than 15×2 mm compared to ± 141/2 mm for the forgery.
In most of the forgeries, the middle bar of the E is exactly in the middle and the distance between LA and CANEA is too small.
In a second type of forgery, the middle bar of the E is too high and the horizontal bar in the A is too low.

A genuine issue
Note the distance between the LA and CANEA.
The shape of the letters especially the C & N.
The middle bar of the E is slightly above center.

A very poor forgery & genuine top.

Genuine stamps

Words too close
C is wrong, E bottom bar is too long

An obvious forgery on high value stamp
Size of the C
Crude shape of the A’s & E

1908 Small Overprints
In July 1908, the forces of the occupying Powers started to leave the island.
The autonomous government of Crete again took the opportunity to express their demand of union with Greece and had all their stamps overprinted Greece.

Genuine examples of the small overprint

The “errors” are numerous and perhaps were intentional.

Sample of error

Strip with top left error

There are numerous forgeries of these issues.


They all tend to be very crude and often attempt to imitate inverts , doubles and other variations as above

To avoid troubles with locally overprinted stamps, the Cretan postal authorities decided to order overprinted stamps directly from Bradbury Wilkinson & Co. The overprint was applied in red colour except for the 10 L. and the 1 Dr., on which the colour of the overprint was black.

Genuine examples of the large overprint
Both the small and large have been observed in the same sheet.

There are 2 minor varieties of these overprints