The Bull’s Heads of Moldavia (Moldova)

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 Although few will ever possess these rarities, the common auction houses have many to offer.
However genuine specimens are seldom offered.
These are some of the most recognized stamps in the world and often are the subject of newer issues.

Actual die used

1 ST ISSUE, 21 JULY 1858 (Julian Calendar)

 Individual manual printing by the Principality’s security printers in Jassy of sheets of 32 stamps. 27, 54 and 108 parale on coloured, horizontally laid paper, 81 parale on plain, coloured paper without watermark.
Bull’s head with star and posthorn. Imperforate.
PORTO SCRISOREI in Cyrillic letters

The approximate number printed is:
27 (parale) black on dull rose 6,000
54 (parale) blue-green on pale green/olive green 10,000
81 (parale) blue on bluish/bluish-gray 2,000
108 (parale) blue to dark blue on pale rose 6,000
However, the Collector’s Magazine for 1872, notes, from official documents, that there were 8,675 stamps issued of the 27 paras; 4,756, of the 54 paras; 693, of the 81 paras; and 2,568, of the 108

Valid only in the Principality of Moldavia, till 31 October 1858
Given the method of printing, he design differs slightly from stamp to stamp.

Overall, these are some of the rarest stamps of Europe and very seldom do genuine copies come up on auction.

The only authentic cancellation on the first Moldavia issue is with the Ml double-circle date stamp with place name, day and month and the inscription MOLDOVA in Old Style.
There is also a C 1 RECEPISSE
All other types are forgeries

Authentic Characteristics

The Schloss 1944 Timbrex book notes the angle of the posthorn for the different values

27 parale

The 27 parale
is printed on dull rose paper
The large circle is 19.5 mm.
The first letter of IIOPTO
is tied to the circle by a thin line at the top.
The top of the second “O” of
IIOPTO is thin and often broken.
The outer circle above the “K” is generally disturbed
The first “C” is almost closed
The 5-pointed
star is inclined slightly to the right, the right, lower point looks like a thorn.
The two ears look
very much alike, the right ear is open at the bottom towards the skull.
The horns are elegantly curved, the tips pointing outwards.
The right side of the horns have thicker lines. The right horn points to the foot of the “P”
The left line of the nose is longer.
The nose has 3 distinct lines with the outside ones diverging outwards & not touching the nostrils.
short, vertical lines form a kind of beard between the muzzle of the heraldic beast and the posthorn, without actually touching the horn.
The space between the “P” and the “И” is wider than the other letters.
The second “И” is thicker than the first one and larger than the other letters.
shaft of the 7 of the value is narrow and there is a right hook on the foot of the “7”
The mouthpiece of the posthorn has a white dot.

The black ink is applied thickly or thinly according to the inking of the die and so produces deep black and grey-black prints.

54 Parale

The main features of the 27 apply to the 54
II of IIOPTO quite often, but not always, is linked to the circle as with the 27.
The star is slightly inclined to the left and its lower part is slightly misshapen.
The space between the “P” and the “И” is the same as the other letters.
The second “И” is the same thickness as the first.
The right ear is higher than the left and is different in shape from the left, extended ear.
The elegantly curved horns are hatched on the left instead of the right as with the 27.
The nose has 2 parallel lines that connect with the nostrils.
The muzzle and posthorn are linked by two oval lines.
Very often, small blue-green spots and specks of colour show on the stamp, giving the print an unclean, sometimes even smudged appearance.

81 Parale

The left toe of II in IIOPTO is long and points diagonally downwards.
The horns are elegantly curved, hatched on the left, with the tips pointing outwards.
The star stands upright, being shaded on the left and with a small satellite half-way towards the right horn.
The right ear is a triangle, quite different from the left, rounded ear.
There is often a break in the left ear
Head and posthorn are linked in circular fashion.
The nose lines are not parallel and link with the nostrils.
The circle above the “C” often has a break in it.
The first “И” is often connected to the circle

A set of genuine with minor varieties

108 Parale

While the legend on the stamp has been carefully engraved, the quality of design on the heraldic beast falls well short of that on the other values.
The star is inclined to the left but very superficially executed.
The right, lower beam is sharply pointed.
The left horn is elegantly curved.
The right horn is hatched on the left but very weakly engraved and not as curved at the tip.
The left center point of the star is much smaller than the right one.
The letter K above the star is rarely clearly drawn and ends with a long curved foot.
There is a small break in the outer circle after the last letter.
The 1 of the figures of the 108 parale is quite different from that on the 81 parale.
The impression is that this work was done in a hurry or by another engraver, perhaps an assistant. Originally only three values were intended, namely the 27, 54 and 81 parale.
Many of the characteristics of the others apply.

Most of the forgeries need little comparison as the differences are obvious.
Several are very crude but a few dangerous ones exist.
These examples are from various auction sites. Some unfortunately sold for significant amounts.

27 Parale

Genuine for comparison

The left one was in a Wiki as genuine

Left, a very dangerous as it is a reproduction on a mini-sheet for the Salon der Philatelie in Hamburg in 1984. Modern clean paper and a large wavy watermark are the clues.
Right an excellent forgery, letter differences, the right ear is not broken at the head and a thin “7”

A Torres forgery taken from his catalog

An extremely dangerous forgery. The star lacks the lower right thorn point
The letters “P, T & C” are different. The right ear is connected to the head.

54 Parale

Genuine (left) for comparison
Right forgery – letters are far from frame, posthorn opening points in the wrong direction, a common feature of many forgeries.

Right one is possibly an Oneglia

This last group is very crude, posthorn has lines instead of dots, heads are crude and letters are deformed. eBay offer as possibly genuine!!

81 Parale

Genuine for comparison

The right one is a Sperati, not his best work.

Left, a decent clean forgery, probably more modern, genuine right

108 Parale

Genuine for comparison

A crude forgery
The posthorn is all wrong.
The ears are wrong

Left a well executed Sperati. When advertised as Sperati’s, they can command values of $300-$500
Right, a modern Peter Winter forgery.

An extremely well done forgery with only minor differences in the letters.
Many forgeries can be found in various paper colors.
There were also quite a few bogus (non existing) issues such as the values below.

Why so many forgeries?
These stamps were in great demand and were hotly contested by the wealthy collectors like Ferrari of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.
A good specimen could fetch 10,000 Gold Marks. An amount that would buy a house or small farm.
It is easy to understand the proliferation of forgeries given the demand by ordinary collectors for space fillers.

1912 Kohl handbook – used ones on the left

Remainders, Essays, Proofs
There is good evidence that all remaining stocks were destroyed in 1870 by the Postal Ministry.
This is probably evidenced by the lack of mint examples after this date.

Some proofs show up periodically in sheets of 3 or blocks of 6 with certification, these are considered as forgeries.

The reprints (forgeries?) are by far the biggest issue.
The original dies were rediscovered in Bucharest in 1890 or 1891
The reprints were allegedly made under Postal Director Gorjan in 1891.
It is thought that he only made a limited quantity so others may be involved
They exist on white paper and colored paper very close to the originals

There were also some reprints made in 1958 from the original dies for the first international Philatelic Exhibition in Bucharest
They apparently consisted of;
27, 54, 108 parale, violet-blue stamping ink on white, waxy transparent paper
81 parale, black stamping ink on white, waxy transparent paper
Very few of these survived.

 Furthermore a few sets were made in 1970 on ordinary white paper with the original dies for test purposes
The reprints show wear on the dies and are not as clean as the originals

1891 Gorjan reprint? on white paper

1891 Gorjan reprint? on colored paper
Both samples show the wear on the dies.
Reprints from the original dies have sold for considerable sums.