France Ceres Forgeries

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1849-50 – Ceres
Typographed (sheets of 300). Design and engraving: Jacques-Jean Barre.




The Ceres series was the first postage stamp series of France, issued in 6 different values from 1849 to 1850 as a representation of the French Republic.
The series bore the effigy of Ceres, goddess of growing plants in Roman mythology. Jacques-Jean Barre did the initial drawing and gravure. Anatole Hulot was in charge of the printing of the Ceres series done in Paris in the 19th century.
The drawing was used again by necessity when the Second Empire fell in 1870, with printing in Paris besieged by German armies and in Bordeaux where the French government fled. Two new Ceres series were issued in the 1930s and 1940s.

Genuine Characteristics

1. Right foot of R extends further than the top
2. Bottom leg of E is longer
3. Right leg of R is generally cut short
4. The star points do not touch the frame
5. The bottom of the C is often attached
6. 4 outwards pointing keys
7. 18 oval grapes
8. Oval shape
9. 97 large uniform pearls
10. Top of C extends out less than the bottom
11. Blank white area
12. Top of S extends out less than the bottom
13. Generally a break is visible here
14. 5th line up extends to the end of the neck
15. Note the shape of the eye and distinct pupil
16. 5 well defined ears of wheat
17. 2 arcs in the undulation, other corners have 3

Tete-Beche stamps
Many countries printed tete-beche stamps as part of the normal printing procedure. In France these were caused by inverted dies apparently put in by mistake. In some cases the errors were soon discovered and not immediately in others.
Blocks with these “errors” clearly indicate the lack of intent.

This chart indicates the known tete-beche errors – click on for larger image

Forgeries from minor, crude or unknown forgers
Genuine stamps on the left for comparison

A modern Peter Winter forgery
The letters are thin and awkwardly shaped.
The bottom left 4 is larger than the right one
The winding ornaments on the sides are uneven
Many fine details in the hair and grapes are missing

Peter Winter block

Peter Winter Block

A crude forgery from an unknown source
Narrow sleepy eye
Coarse features in the hair and grapes, short ears of wheat
Tiny pearls around the circle frame

Spiro forgery
Top letters are too short and bottom ones are tall and thick
Large eye
Missing grapes
Coarse side ornaments

Another Spiro with the same issues as previous

Unknown forger – possibly Paul de Toulouse
The corner star elements are very small
The mouth is thick
The pearls in the circle are irregular with many fused together
Coarse lines in the hair
Lower letters are shorter, top letters are thin and irregular
The background lines are thick and irregular
The A in FRANC is short and the C is tall
Small round rear pearl

Same as above

Same as above

Same as above
Note the right FR is too far to the left

Same as above in two different shades cancelled

A quite good Paul de Toulouse tete-beche forgery
The mouth is thicker
The pupil is larger
Many of the pearls in the circle frame are fused together and smaller
The 1’s in the 10’s are taller than the 0
The ears of wheat are shorter

Another similar to the previous

The following set is from an unknown source. There is an unusual brown frame around the stamps. Perhaps they are cut outs from some souvenir sheets.
They are reasonably well done.
The key feature is the heavily shaded eyebrow and large pupil.
Many of the letters and numerals are poorly shaped.


These 2 are from the same unknown forger.
They are well done and appear to have a Star of Paris cancel in the same position.
The key features are the small rear round pearl and the hair ends below the neck

This tete-beche forgery has the basic quality of a Sperati but the side windings appear damaged on one side as does the background.

Fournier Forgeries – Genuine on the left

Fournier forgery immediately recognized by the large eye
Nose is pointed
Neck is lacking the dotted lines across the whole neck
Little or no lower lip
0’s and O’s are narrow
Grapes are poorly formed.
Note the difference in the hair and wheat spears.
These may be forgeries sold but not made by Fournier or his second choice forgeries.

As above

As above

As above

As above

As above

Impossible Pair

Sperati Forgeries
As might be expected, these are the ones that fooled many collectors.
They are very numerous and difficult to determine in auctions with low quality images.
In some cases Sperati copied the plate flaws of a stamp which further increases the deceptive quality.
The following cancels were used by Sperati:
‘LE HAVRE 5E 29 SEPT. 71 (74)’
MARSEILLES 7E 18 JANV. 71 (12)’
and the following numeral dot cancels: ‘359’ , ‘807’, ‘1630’, ‘1792’, ‘2660’ and ‘3151’.

Reproduction A
The cancel is always in the same spot

Reproduction B
Possibly the most deceptive
There is a small dot at the bottom between the ES of POSTES

Reproduction C
Small flaw below the 0 of the right 10 C
Another flaw just above the right C
Hair lines are thicker and more pronounced

Reproduction D
Broken Pearl at 7o’clock
A small break in the inner frameline above the right C of 10C

Dash instead of pearl at 3 o’clock
1792 typical Sperati cancel

Reproduction F
Consists of Reproduction C (left) and D (right)

Reproduction A
Very deceptive forgery
There is a dent in the upper right part of the ‘P’ of ‘POSTES’. This letter also has its lower left side shaved off.
The C of FRANC has a white dot above it almost connecting it with the white space above it.

Reproduction A with Paris Star cancel

Reproduction B
Easily recognized as the cancel is always in the same spot

Reproduction C
Spot of color in one of the pearls at the left hand side across from the nose
Fused pearls at 7 o’clock

Reproduction D
There is a break in the upper part of the ‘P’ of ‘REPUB’.
The left bottom corner ornament has a green flaw extending towards the right.
There is a second white dot below the usual one between the C and’ of 15 C POSTES on the left

Another reproduction D

Reproduction E
Continuous rows of squared dots cancel.

Reproduction F
Paris Star cancel ‘8’

Possibly a pair of Sperati with the cancel ‘LILLE 12 JANV. 1849’

Reproduction A
The cancel on this forgery is always the same and always has the same position

Reproduction C
There is a orange blotch below the ‘RE’ of ‘REPUB’
There is a white blotch below the ‘0’ of the right ’40’.
In some examples  the left ‘4’ is badly done.
These forgeries exists with a grill cancel, a mute Paris Star cancel and the following numeral cancels ‘692’, ‘2063’ and ‘3300’

Reproduction A
This forgery, type A of the 1 F value, is extremely deceptive.
It exists in several colors and with different cancels.
The distinguishing characteristics are (often barely visible):
There is a white dot in the internal left part of the ‘O’ of ‘POSTES’.
Sometimes a break can be found in the extreme left of the lower frameline.
The tips of the wheat ears are smaller
There are breaks in the lower backgrounds
Sperati also made a ‘die-proof’ in black of this forgery.
He also made tete-beche pairs of type ‘A’
Town cancels:
‘BOYNES 21 OCT. 1850 (43)’
‘CREPY 10 JANV. 1849 (58)”CHARTRES 5 JANV. 1849’
‘EPINAL 29 DEC 49 (82)’
‘LA LOUPE 5 JANV. 1849 (27)’
‘LE DORAT 20 AOUT 1849’
‘ORLEANS 2 JANV 1849 (23)’
Grill cancel
Mute Paris Star Cancel
Continuous grill cancel
‘OR’ cancel in a small circle
Various numeral cancels: ‘166’, ‘481’, ‘805’, ‘854’, ‘1675’, ‘1730’, ‘1792’, ‘1818’, ‘1896’, ‘2199’, ‘2250’, ‘2273’, ‘2642’, ‘2733’, ‘2962’, ‘3317’, ‘3273’, ‘3383’, ‘3472’.

Sperati made forgeries of the different color varieties of the 1Fr as shown below

A pair of Reproduction A

Reproduction E
The cancel is always in the same position

Reproduction G
The top and bottom letters are thicker
The pearls in the circle are uneven
The background is faded
A minor white spot can be discovered below the ‘U’ of the word ‘REPUB’.

1870 Provisional Government
Bordeaux series. Lithographed (sheets of 300). Drawing & engraving by Leopold Yon (except the 20c type I, engraved by Dambourgez).
Stamps are distinguished from the 1849 issues by differences in printing (the Ceres of 1849 are printed in typography). The crown of ears at the top of the head is much more prominent on the topographies then on the Bordeaux. The eyebrow is very dense on the Bordeaux



20c Type I & II

20c Type III


Forgeries Crude and Unknown Forger

Crude forgery – unknown forger
Narrow eye
Neck lines broken and lacking the curve
Missing background dots especially at the bottom
ST of POSTES is higher
Missing hair lines

Very crude forgery known as “Faux de Pons”

Auction listed as an “Essay” but more likely bogus.

Sperati Forgeries

Reproduction  A
The C of FRANC has a long upper tail
There is a white dot besides the pearls at the height of the chin in the left hand side of the stamp.
There is a white dot behind the head and  one near the pearls at the right hand side at 3:30 o’clock
‘LE HAVRE 5E 29 SEPT. 71 (74)’
‘MARSEILLES 7E 18 JANV. 71 (12)’ (see image above)
Numeral dot cancels: ‘359’, ‘807’, ‘2660’ and ‘3151’.

Sperati did a reasonably good job of reproducing the high CV Type I
There is a white space in the background below to the left of the F of FRANC.
The ES of POSTES is malformed
The circle that surrounds the pearls has two breaks, one at 11 o’clock and another at 12:30 o’clock
There is a white scratch is coming out of the front of the neck of Ceres.
The pearl at 7 o’clock has a large white spot
Cancels used
‘MILLAU 1 23 AVRIL 71.’
Numeral cancels: ‘359’, ‘822’, ‘861’, ‘918’, ‘1539’, ‘2360’, ‘3151’ and ‘3171’.

Reproduction A
Large pupil
White frame line top pf head
Fused pearl at 3 o’clock

Reproduction B
A slightly better forgery than A
The fused dot at 3 o’clock is still there
Cancels include
‘LE HAVRE 5E 29 SEPT 71 (74)’
‘LE HAVRE LE PORT 3E 19 DEC 70’ (see image below)
‘MARSEILLES 7E 18 JANV 71 (12)’
Numeral dots cancels: ‘359’, ‘807’, ‘822’, ‘861’, ‘897’, ‘918’, ‘1539’, ‘1945’, ‘2145’, ‘2240’, ‘2360’, ‘2660’, ‘3151’, ‘3171’, ‘3219’ and ‘3539’.

Below are others of Reproduction B with common cancels


Reproduction B – very deceptive forgery
On top of the C of  FRANC there is a scratch
Numeral cancels are known 253, 359, 842 and 3151

An eBay modern facsimile