Airmail Forgeries

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The first airmail stamp was a special issue that was prepared for the prepayment of the air fee required for the mail carried by the emergency flights to Helsinki in February and March 1920
Designed by Karl Triumph and typographed by Joh. & Alma Paalmann in Tallinn in sheets of 200 — two panes of 100 each
Only one printing, of which 238,315 were sold. The rest of the printing was used for the 1923 surcharges.
Due to its late arrival, the legitimate use of the stamp was restricted to one flight only — March 15, 1920. Most covers offered on the market are fakes. It was invalidated on December 31, 1923.
Essays and negative enlarged copies of the first assembly are known

1920 Issue – Sc C1

Genuine Sc C1

Constant Plate Varieties that may assist genuine ID

A full sheet of C1 – large file (1917 X 3649)

An enlarged tête-bêche negative proof.
This gives a good idea of the genuine traits.

Most of the forgeries were made by the prolific Jaan Lubi of Viljandi, while most of the air mail forgeries are the works of the Simson-Kull group.

Jaan Lubi was born between 1905-1910 and grew up in the Estonian town of Viljandi. He had no specific employment, but subsisted as a photographer and musician – and with forgery and trade of stamps. Jaan Lubi used printing plates that according to unconfirmed sources were made in Finland. It is not known where the fake stamps were printed; most likely in some private printing works.
He sold or traded Estonian stamps wholesale world wide with the forgeries mixed in.
After the communist take-over in Estonia in 1940, Lubi was employed as photographer by the police. When the war broke out in 1941 Lubi tried to escape to the Soviet Union by sea, but perished in a storm outside Narva.

It it also noted that large scale forgeries came out of Geneva Switzerland and somewhere in Argentina.
The fake covers were mainly fabricated by Victor Salemann of Reval, a stamp dealer.

These forgeries are generally well executed and given the poor quality of many auction images, they can be quite difficult to distinguish.

A genuine left compared to a forgery right

This is a Type VIII forgery of Simson-Kull (See listing  in the 1922 – 1923 Surcharged Issues Forgeries below)
A heavy line to the bottom left of EESTI
A large dot after the second E of EESTI
The lines to the left of OHU end out of line
The accent above the O of OHU is very close to the O
NOTE – colour is not a determining factor.
The genuine yellow color varies from light yellow (most common) to dark brownish yellow. Color shifts are common.
A close-up of the above forgery with the Type VIII traits indicated

I have seen some notes that you can determine the forgeries by counting the lines besides OHU. Forgeries apparently have 10 lines on each side of the OHU.
I do not give credence to this observation as the negative proof shown earlier has 10 lines on each side not 9 left and 10 right.
In reality it is more a case of uniformity and evenness as shown below – genuine on the left. However, some forgeries are quite good so knowing specific traits can be helpful.
Genuine & forgery – lines uneven & crowded together.

A genuine C1 pair

Genuine 1922 – 1923 Surcharged Issues C2 – C8
The surcharged 1923 Airmail Provisionals were issued to cover the new tariffs of supplemental air postage which were opened October 1, 1923. For the overprinting, the remainders of the Air Stamp No 1 were used.

They were issued imperforate but a small number were privately perforated by Aeronaut of the 10Mk & 20Mk mainly for their own use and not officially sanctioned. Some did go into collections. The perforations have irregular holes with uneven spacing & alignment. There are several other private issues and a postmaster perf. Authentication is a requirement.
Forgeries include the complete stamp and only the overprint so certification is advised unless you feel confident.

C2 & C3

C3 block

C4 & Varieties

C5 in carmine & brick red – both not shown in Scott’s.
9900 issued

C5 block
Top row stamps overprinted in carmine, the lower ones in brick-red.

Only 3234 of the C6 were issued and with a CV of $100 it is a prime target for forgers.
NOTE – the distance between the 5 & M is 2mm for the C6 and 1.25mm for the C5
A key trait – all genuines have 9,10,10 straight parallel lines as indicated.

C7 is one of the rarest Estonia stamps with only 300 issued.
Re-markedly it often appears in auction and “signed”
Unless an actual modern certificate accompanies it, assume it is a forgery.
NOTE – the EESTI catalog shows the stamp with a rough perf 11.5 X 11.5, yet many auction stamps have very clean perfs and are probably re-perfed C4’s.

A genuine C7 with certification

A pair of genuine C8’s.
Only 2000 were issued so this is another prime target for forgery.

A generally good forgery check is the corner elements
Genuine left, forgery right – uneven lines and breaks are typical of the forgeries.
Below we will discuss the various scroll-work.
This particular one is a Type XI with the missing right dot.
Note also the pointed bottom on the central shape, this ia also typical of many of the forgeries.

As full sheets of these Simson-Kull forgeries exist, it is easy to pick out common traits in these forgeries.
Areas of specific concern are noted on the sections below

Type I & II

Type III & IV

Type V & VI


Type IX & X

Type XI

C6 forgery with 4 different types

C7 forgery on auction $175 – 4 forgery types visible

C7  & C8 on auctions – probable C4 reperfs.

Overprint Forgeries

2 complete C6 forgeries showing some of the range of color variations.
The forged overprint above is easy to identify

In the forgery (right)
The slope of the a is different and the bottom serif is blunt
The feet of the R and K lack the definition of the genuine.

The forgery (right)
Lacks the curved slope of the 1.
The ball of the 3 does not curve inwards.
The base of the 9 is too thick

This C6 complete forgery unlike the ones above it appears to be better..
The base stamp is easy to identify but not so the overprint.

A closer look shows some discrepancies
The curved slope of the 1 is not as pronounced
The 9 & 2 are closer together
The slope of the 2 is thicker
The ball of the 3 is flatter
Obviously, there are forged overprint variations to be found..

1924 Issue Sc C9 – C18
Definitive Air Mail Stamps were issued for the reopening of the Tallinn—Helsinki line on February 12, 1924, to cover the necessary supplementary air mail fee.
Imperforate or comb perforation 13.5.
They were valid until April 15,1928.
C10 & C12 genuine

Despite their low CV, forgeries do exist but are easily recognized.
The forgeries are all lacking in any fine details as shown below – genuine on the left.



ESSTI Philatelic Handbook Hurt & Ojaste 1986
Aeronaut (Päevaleht) & Teetsov perforations, Eesti Filatelist No 15, 1974 , P. G. Gleason.
Estonian Airmail Forgeries, Eesti Filatelist No 18/19, 1976.
Distinguishing Features of Jaan Lubi Forgeries of Estonian Stamps. Eesti Filatelist No 29, 1983