Moldova Bull’s Head 1857-58

Click on images for a larger picture

The chances of having any genuine versions of the bull’s heads is extremely slim. They are very rare and generally VERY expensive.
Despite their rarity, there are dozens of forgeries of each issue, most are crude and none really fool when compared to the original

The stamps were printed manually by the Principality’s security printers in Jassy of sheets of 32 stamps.
27, 54 and 108 parale on colored, horizontally laid paper; 81 parale on plain, colored paper without watermark.
27 (parale) black on dull rose
54 (parale) blue-green on pale green/olive green
81 (parale) blue on bluish/bluish-gray
108 (parale) blue to dark blue on pale rose.

The numbers printed were;
6,000 stamps of 27 parale
I 0,000 stamps of 54 parale
2,000 stamps of 81 parale
6,000 stamps of 108 parale

The Bull’s Head issue was reprinted twice, and can easily be recognized, because they are printed on different papers than the originals.
From the approximately 24,000 stamps issued, only 724 apparently survived, with only 89 on cover

Above – actual stamps in private collections

A single die for each value was used.
This makes authenticity easy to verify as although each denomination is slightly different, any single value will always be identical apart from printing variations.

An original die showing wear

The 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.
All other round and oval cancels, bars, dots, lozenges and cancellers showing the year are forgeries.

Genuine date/place cancels

The Genuine Issues and Characteristics

1. Top of the O is thin and generally broken
2. The points of the C almost touch
3. The star is slanted to the right
4. The horns are even in height and the right one is heavily shaded on the right side
5. The right ear is larger and more shaded than the left one
6. A break in the lower part of the ear
7. A large space between the last 2 characters
8. The 2 small tips do not touch the posthorn
9. The right base of the 7 has a noticeable upwards curve
10. The dots are square

1. The bottom right of the C has a long tip and the C is almost closed
2. The star is inclined to the left
3. The right horn is not well defined and is generally broken
4. The bottom right foot has a curved serif
6. Note the shape of the 4
7. The top of the 5 is curved
8. The tips touch the posthorn
9. The bottom left leg has a long extension
10. The right bottom side of the P has a long extension

1. The star is fairly even
2. There is a large dot to the right of the star
3. The right ear is much smaller and not well formed
4. There is an oblique line on the right side
5. The bottom of the ear is broken
6. The 1 has a short serif
7. The left bottom serif is long
The K is generally badly formed

1. The bottom of the C is almost flat
2. The K has a long upwards curling foot
3. The right horn is not well formed and has a dent
4. Generally a break in the circle
5. A very long bottom right serif on the 1
6. The ear tip points to the center of the O
7. The horn is heavily shaded


The best and initial test is where a line drawn through the center of the horn intersects the letters as shown above. This eliminates 90% of the forgeries.

The forgeries shown below were found in general auction sites like eBay and in private firm auctions

Forgeries of the 27p

Samples from late 1800’s catalogs.
Moschkau left and Scott catalog right.
It is obvious why early collectors were fooled as both of these are quite crude.
It was not uncommon for period catalogs to have such images which made the work of forgers very easy.
Some of the forgers made an effort to duplicate the paper color but most did not.


Here are 4 forgeries that closely resemble the Moschkau catalog example

A crude modern forgery with fake cancel. The print quality is just too good.

A pair of crude forgeries from a well known eBay seller who noted that they may be fakes but who knows, the buyer might have just won the lottery. It was bid up to over $300 from a $1 start. A good buy considering the real ones would easily fetch $50,000.

The next ones are much better and are compared to the genuine on the left.



This one on the right might fool a few as it is a reproduction of a 27 p stamp on a minisheet for the Salon der Philatelie in Hamburg in 1984. The print quality gives it away.

This one is very good but the star is wrong, the 7 is too thin, many letters do not match

This is the most dangerous one I found and was bid up on a high end auction.
The right ear is not broken at the base, the star is a different shape, the horn tips curve too much, several letters touch the frame.

Forgeries of the 54p

In his 1869 catalog, Moens published a fair facsimile of the 54p.
He then went on to illustrate what he thought were varieties but actually were more forgeries – below


Torres and Moschkau each published identical forgery illustrations in their catalogs which are identical to the Moens

The 3 below are very crude forgeries requiring no details


Forgeries compared to the genuine left
This is a  good forgery
The right leg of the K does not curl up
The white spaces in the horn are uneven
The top of the 5 is too short and the right side of the 4 is slanted

This is possibly an Oneglia
Large star, large left horn
Horn does not line up with the right letter
Letters too large and many joined

The letters are too large and too low
The 4 is closed
Horn does not line up with the right letter

This is a copy from a catalog offered as a genuine stamp

Horn does not line up with the right letter
K is slanted
Letters are too large
5 is slanted
Horns do not curve out

This forgery is on eBay from a well known supplier of forgeries
The horn points to the wrong letter
The ears are wrong
The letters are too low and large

Would be a decent forgery if not for the odd round shapes either side of the head

Forgeries of the 81p

More Moens illustration of 81p “varieties”



Forgery from a Torres and Moschkau illustration

Some very crude forgeries



These 2 appear to be from the same forger

The next ones are much better and are compared to the genuine on the left.

The horn points to the wrong letter
The dot besides the star is lacking
The letters are thick and crude

The mouth of the horn is too flat
Ears don’t point up
No dot besides the star
Second P is too inclined

The horn points to the wrong letter
The dot besides the star is lacking
8 is too thin
Left ear does not point up

The horn points to the wrong letter
The dot besides the star is lacking
Looks modern
Horns do not curve out enough

The ears are small
The dot besides the star is lacking
The horn points to the wrong letter
The 81 is too short

This is apparently the Sperati forgery but I have some doubts.
The 1 is inclined
The dot besides the star is lacking
The horn points to the wrong letter
The horn is crude

Forgeries of the 108p

The Moens illustrations


Forgery from a Torres and Moschkau illustration both identical to the first Moens

These 2 forgeries with fake cancels are identical to the above illustrations


3 crude forgeries that are similar

The next ones are much better and are compared to the genuine on the left.

This is a modern Peter Winter forgery which is too well detailed to be 160 years old

A good forgery
The horn points to the wrong letter
The 8 is narrow
The distance between the K & P is too wide
The star is shaped wrong

A photographically reproduced forgery with fake cancels probably modern

AN excellent forgery
Bottom serif on the 1 is too thick
The C & K are shaped differently
The horn has a lot of detail in it

The Sperati forgery
Aside from some minor details, the key feature is the small break in the outer circle at 4:30 o’clock

This Sperati was auctioned at $10M
It apparently only exists with  with a red ‘JASSY 23 ? MOLDOVA’ cancel

This forgery is very similar to the one above bot the cancel is in black?

Sperati Proof

Fournier forgeries
Fournier made forgeries if all 4 issues and here are the sample proofs he offered compared to the originals
Although they have obvious differences, once they were put on appropriate paper with the right color, they would certainly have fooled collectors of that period.





1891 Reprints
The Postmaster-General Colonel Gorjan decided to produce new prints to celebrate the King’s jubilee; however, as most of the original dies were damaged, only a few copies were produced of the 27, 54, 81, 108 and 5 parale, the others not being serviceable.
The copies were produced by hand press:
the 27 parale on thick, dull pink paper
the 54 parale in green-blue on dark green paper
the 81 parale in blue/greyish blue on laid bluish paper
the 108 parale blue on rose-lilac paper

These are apparently also Gorjan reprints

Other Reprints
The whole story of reprints is very confusing as it appears there were different printings on different papers and several from unknown sources

Unknown source

German source? Black on horizontally laid rose paper. Paper thickness 60my. Ungummed. Text Viena 15-27 Juni 1868 in ink on reverse.

Black on horizontally laid rose-buff thick paper.

1958 & 1972 Reprints

A philatelic exhibition was held in Bucharest in 1958 commemorating the centenary of the first Moldavia issue.
To mark the occasion, existing original dies of the first and second Moldavia issues and the block for a 10 parale newspaper stamp, which was never used, were printed on transparent waxy paper.

These were apparently made for study and comparison purposes. They were printed individually by hand in colours and on papers different from the originals (some on striped paper). They can be very easily recognized by their uniform, weak print

Bogus Issues
I have come across a number of these, most are from the same unknown source. Their purpose is a mystery.




1858-61 Issues

Reported quantities printed
7008 stamps of 5 parale
28032 stamps of 40 parale
8000 stamps of 80 parale
16032 stamps of 5 parale
78000 stamps of 40 parale
52072 stamps of 80 parale

The breakdown is given as follows

Genuine 5 Parale

1. Bottom of 5 is thick
2. Star is open on the bottom ray
3. Opening between ear and horn
4. Dent in frame
5. E & I generally joined by thin line
6. Later issue has a break in the frame
7. Square even shapes
8. Serif on foot inclines to the right
9. Top of P generally open
10. Top of O generally open
11. Left side of T generally open
12. Markings on left side only

The unissued 1862 5p

The unissued late printing, probably made in the spring of 1862, exists only unused on white paper.
It has the same authentic features as the initial printing but the die had been damaged in the meantime so that the lower frame line shows a diagonal break beneath the A of IIAP.
NOTE – this can be expertly fixed to imitate the very rare early printing.

Genuine 40 Parale

1. Letters not joined
2. Generally a visible dent in the frame
3. The frame is much thicker on top particularly on the right side
4. Star open on top
5. Right side of ear very thick
6. Generally open here
7. Blank spot here
8. Top of horn and mouth touch
9. Generally a break here
10. Letters gradually incline particularly the I
11. P generally open
12. O generally open
13. Left side of T is open
14. Top of O is open
The damaged lower P may have occurred during 1860/61 through wear or mechanical damage to the original die.

It is mentioned that there are 2 types of the 40p

However, this may just be a printing issue

There are several shades such as the above deep blue on white wove paper

Genuine 80 Parale

1. 0 is narrow, inclined and smaller than the 8
2. Top and/or bottom rays may be open. Left side rays are longer
3. Curving serifs on P
4. R & I generally joined
5. Generally a frame break here
6. Large space between horn and mouth
7. Bottom letters very inclined and more compressed than the top ones
8. 5 white space areas in horn
9. Left ear thinner than right one
10. Horn are equal and tips curve outwards

2 Types of the 40p

Forgeries of the 5p

The crude forgeries

The 4 above are easily identified by the crescent shaped horns.
They appear to be from different sources, in particular note the shape of the 5
The ears don’t point in the right direction.


These 3 appear to be from the same source
The horn tips do not point out as in the original

Moschkau catalog which was probably the model for forgeries

More crude forgeries


Better forgeries compared to original
This forgery should have been obvious just from the horns and ears but on auction it garnered 20 bids and sold for $500

This well done forgery was certified and sold for a sizeable amount
Note the pronounced slant on the 5, the lower A is not slanted, the P of PORTO has a large top serif, the tip of the horn is thick

Forgeries of the 40p

Crude forgeries




The last 2 above from eBay receive many bids and sold for about $50

Better forgeries compared to the original

No break in the star
Bottom P is inclined
Right letters are not aligned

No break in the star
Letters do not match particularly the first S, both I’s, all the P’s

The above was certified as genuine in a high profile auction despite the obvious differences in the star, many of the letters and the thinness of the lines in the horn

The top numerals are thick and close together
The star has no break
The horn is too round

Forgeries of the 80p

Crude Forgeries



Better forgeries compared to the original
Large ears
Star is not open at top
Horns do not curve out enough
Letters tend to be thicker

A very good forgery
Star is different shape
Horn is too round
Letters on right are in a curved line

This right one is the Sperati forgery
The smudges above the top frame appear consistent in all the ones found (see below)
The middle section of the horn lacks lines and appears to have a flat top
Inside to horn are 3 distinct dots

Gorjan reprint