Oldenburg Forgeries

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The Forgers: Englehardt Fohl, Francois Fournier, Rheinhold Krippner, Jean de Sperati, Spiro Brothers, Peter Winter (House of Stamps).

Peculiarities of the Oldenburg stamps
1. Except for the last issue, all the stamps are lithographed. In lithography, where every stamp is individually engraved by hand, it rarely occurs that one specimen exactly resembles another for it is, after all, work done by hand and the drawings of the several plates will inevitably show various differences.
2. The paper of the stamps of Oldenburg must always be examined meticulously, for many copies with supposedly thin ·spots are not actually thin. The paper is cloudy, that is, light spots show within the structure of the paper. These are simply due to the nature of the paper.
3. There are splinters of wood, sometimes large in the paper. They are dyed in according to the basic color of the paper. In blue stamps these wood splinters are brown-red; in red stamps wine red, and in yellow stamps, straw-yellow.
4. Differences in size of the several issues depend on, how much the paper was dampened, and how much it contracted again after printing.
5. Copies with original gum of ·the first issue are usually re-gummed. There were no stocks of leftovers, and so unused copies with original gum are very rare.
Most catalogues and albums the 1/ 3 Silbergroschen value is numbered as the first Oldenburg stamp. In fact, however, the 1/30 and the 1/15 Thaler appeared first; a little later, the 1/10 Thaler; and the 1/3 Silbergroschen was on sale for the first time in 1855.


1/3 Silbergroschen black/yellow-green.
Imperforate. Lithographed.
Paper: Medium strong or thin.
200,000 were printed
1. Dash in ornament
1a. Thin frame line cuts off the cross
2. 2 dots in bottom of cross
3. Tip of “1” does not touch the ermine.
4. End of “C” is long and points up
5. Bottom of “3” is flat
6. Large dot very close to shield frame
7. Same size dot as 6.
8. Tip of shield cuts the scroll line and is over the center of “N”
9. Serif of “G” touches the line
10. Bottom of “LD” joined
11. Left frame line more inclined than right side
12. Note large dot position and touching 3 shading lines
13. Thick lines on right sides of ribbons
14. Small T shape at end of “4”

Close up of crown features


Left, bottom scroll is curved instead of straight
Number “4” too small
Top of cross not cut off
Right, no shading in scroll besides “OLDENBURG”, “B” awkward
End of “C” in “Schw” not long and pointing up
Both are the wrong color

Left, excellent modern Winter forgery, color and paper too bright
Right, Sperati, breaks in top left frame
Dash joins frames right of crown
Small dot besides “G”
Break in “B” of Oldenburg

1/30 Silbergroschen Black on Dark Blue
Imperforate. Lithographed.
Size of stamp picture: 173/4, by 201/2 mm.
1,500,000 printed
There are 4 types of this issue (some argue that there are sub-types). Each has its own characteristics.

Type I

1. Dots in crown
2. Foot of “r” extends outwards
3. “1” touches the ermine
4. Bottom of “3” wider than the top
5. “H & A ” joined
6. ‘Top of “U & R ” joined
7. Distinguishing feature of Type I
8. Spike in bottom of “G”
9. “5” much broader at the bottom
10. “2” touches the frame

Type II

Size is 18 X 201/2 mm
General traits same as Type I
1. “2” does not touch the frame
2. Bottom of “3” not as wide as Type I
3. Key feature of Type II
4. “H & A” joined
5. Key feature of Type I

Type III

1. Bottom & top of “3” same width
2. “H, A and L” joined
3. Tip of shield extends further in scroll than Type I or II
4. Key Feature
5. Key feature – narrow opening in fold

Type IV

Basically the same features as Type I
1. “2” does not touch the frame
2. Key feature – shading in loop
3. “U and R” much shorter the first letters
4. Key feature

Key features of each Type

Type I

Type II

Type III

Type IV – Type I with shading in right fold


Bright Ultramarine, Bright Grey Ultramarine, Broken lower frame

Mi 2 Plate Flaws


Left crude forgery
“THALER” too wide and cut off, bottom and top of “3” even
Bottom lettering very crude, heavy coarse shading
Right, a good forgery
Shield cut off on the right side
“1” does not touch the ermine

Same design as before.
1 / 15 Thaler black/rose. Type I , II and III.
Imperforate. Lithographed
Size of stamp picture: Type I: 18 X 20 mm. Type II : 181/2 X 20 mm.
350,000 printed

General Features

1. Top of “1” does not touch the ermine, the top line extends to the right
2. The top line extends to the right
3. Bottom of “5” is very wide
4. The “H, A and L” are joined
5. The tip of the shield does not enter the scroll below
6. The end of the ’2” has a sharp curving tip
7. There is a dot inside the ornament
8. Large “4” does not touch the frame
9. Small “4” does touch the frame

Distinguishing features of the 3 Types

Type I, II and III. The shading in the ermine is much heavier in Type III and the frame lines are joined in the upper left corner.


Left a good forgery
The small”4” does not touch the frame
The “1” does not touch the ermine
The bottom of the “5” is flat
Right a very crude forgery with a long list of issues – note the very thick border

Same design as before.
1 / 10 Thaler black / light yellow, lemon-yellow. Type I and II.
Imperforate. Lithographed.
250,000 printed

Type I & Type II

Crowns of Mi 2, 3, 4
Cross of Mi 3 wider at bottom
More and smaller dots in bottom of ermine of Mi 4
Dots inside shape left & right of crown bottom only in Mi 4


Left a poor forgery
The crown is completely wrong
The numerals and letters are too small
Right a very crude forgery probably by the same forger as the 1/15th thaler above.

Coat of arms of the State of Oldenburg with crown.
1/3 Silbergroschen black/green.
The number issued varies between 50,000 and 90,000

1. The thin frame line has a break here
2. The left leg of the “N” is long
3. The “G” is small
4. The frame lines are not parallel and are wider here
5. There is a dot, on some it is barely visible
6 & 10 Note the difference in the shapes in size and ends
7. The “S” is large
8. the “C” is small
9. The bottom line of the “E” is generally broken
11. Both tips of the left ribbon are pointed


Left a poor forgery
The “1/3” are too large and no dot on the right one
The crown is flattened
No space after “Ein”
The left ribbon is too small and the right one is pointed on both ends
Right another poor forgery
Fractions are wrong
The top “G” is too large
Bottom letters are too small and angled wrong

Left a very good Sperati with areas of concern shown
Right an extremely crude forgery, wrong color and many faults

1 Groschen blue / white, dull blue/white.
Imperforate. Lithographed.
Size of stamp picture 173/4 : 23 mm.
800,200 issued

1. Lower part of the “B” much larger than the top and the bottom stroke slants upwards
2. The top of the “R” is wider than the bottom.
3. The left and right ornaments are different in shape and size
4. The right oval has a dot middle left, the left oval has one also but not prominent on all samples
5. The bottom of the cross has a semi circular shape
6. The top of the “c” extends out and down
7. The top of the cross slope downwards to the right

2 types 6a and the Indigo 6c

Plate variations of Mi 6


Left, poor forgery
Numerals are far too large
The ornament shown in the genuine item #3 are both the same
The “B” at the top and the “c” at the bottom are the wrong shape
The pearls on the bottom are all the same size
Right a decent forgery
Color is off
The bottom letters are too tall and touch the frame
The bottom of the shield cross is flat
Not dot in the right oval

A modern forgery (Winter?)
The shield cross if flat on the bottom
The top “R” is the same width top and bottom
The bottom “c” is not the right shape

Same design as before.
2 Groschen black/ rose
90,000 printed

1. Top of “E” slopes down to the right
2. Bottom of the “E” much longer than the top
3. The globe is slightly wider than the cross and divided into 3 sections
4. The point is inclined to the left and the tip is rounded
5. Clear dots in both numeral frames
6. The left oval touches the shape below
7. The top and Bottom lines of the “Z” are generally broken
8. The left lobe shape does not touch the banner below


Left a crude forgery with lopsided crown
Large numerals and no dots in ovals
Letter traits do not correspond with the genuine
Right another crude forgery
No dots in ovals
Globe and cross in shield too large
Letters thick and do not match the genuine
The “2’s” are too tall

Left a very good modern forgery, paper is fresh
Background is too shaded
In the bottom letters, the first “e” is too low, the “n” is too thick
Right an excellent Sperati
The top of the “E” does not slant down
The shape of the “s, e and n” of Groschen are slightly different
The 2 middle pearls at the bottom are indistinct

Same design as before.
3 Groschen black/yellow.
90,000 issued

1. The “B” is larger than the other letters
2. The left upper leg of the “U” is longer than the right one
3. There are dots in both ovals
4. This mark seems to consistently occur
Note – the dots in 3. have been described as “secret” engraver’s marks. I cannot say their purpose but as obvious as they are, the term “secret” seems far-fetched. The mark in 4. however is more random and a forger might assume it is only a flaw and omit it.
5. The frame line on the left side of the shield is thinner than the right side
6. The bottom of the cross has a small semi oval shape smaller than the width of the cross.
7. The shape touches the banner. Note also that the left and right shape are very different.
8. The top of the “h” has a long dash.
9. There are 7 distinct pearls
10. The shape of the “s” is uneven, the top curve is more open
11. The right leg of the “h” tilts inwards
12. The cross is visibly attached to the front of the globe


Left a poor forgery from a high end auction
Top letters too low -strange “G”
No dots in ovals, no semi oval under the cross
Right a fair forgery
No dots in ovals, no semi oval under the cross
Lower “s” not correct, left ornament not touching the frame

Left very crude forgery with many faults
Right, a good forgery but wrong color, top letters too small

Left a modern forgery on newer paper
Crown too flat, top letters too short
Right Sperati excellent forgery includes all dots and the dash near the shield
Sperati issues are generally extra dots or dashes in the wrong place as noted above

1/4 Groschen orange/white.
Imperforate. Lithographed.
Size of stamp picture: 18 X 231/2 mm.

1. A line through the center of the “O”
2. The top serif of the “D” is long
3. The “N” is slanted, has a thick left foot and the right side is very faint
4. There is a spot of white color here
5. 3 sets of 3 pearls
6. A semi oval at the bottom of the cross
7. Side is not smooth and uniform, thick white section wider than dark one above. Right side section juts out slightly

The single biggest issue is the fake cancels as the used is worth much more than the unused. Certification by a knowledgeable German source is a must (BPP is recommended).

Left, fair forgery and fake cancel
Shield too narrow
Top “N” not slanted
Cross touches frame
Right, numerals too large
No semi oval below shield cross
Top “N” not slanted

Left, numerals too large
No semi oval below shield cross
Top “N” not slanted
Right, excellent Sperati forgery
Arms of shield cross do not match the original
Slight differences in letters, “B”, lower “G” “r”

Same design as before.
1/3 Silbergroschen green/white, moss-green/white.
Imperforate. Lithographed.
The two values of 1861 differ, above all, in size.
Green/white: 18 X 221/2 mm.
Moss-green/white: 173/4 X 23 mm.
Features same as 1/3 above

green/white, moss-green/white


Left very crude with all traits of genuine missing
Right bad forgery
Letters at top not inclined
White spaces in shield
Many issues in the crown

Left poor forgery
Top letters too small
Crown is distorted
Shield too small
Right Sperati good forgery
Shield lacks detail, cross touching line below it
1/3 right distorted

Left poor forgery
Top letters not inclined
No dots in ovals
Ornaments wrong shape
Right poor forgery
No lion in shield
Numerals too large
Ornaments wrong

Same design as before.
1/2 Groschen light red-brown / white, dark red-brown/white.
Imperforate. Lithographed.
90,000 printed

2 main types, red Brown and Dark Brown
Essentially the same features as the 1/4 Groschen


Left poor forgery
Lines in name plates too heavy
Top ribbons do not point in the right direction
Bottom letters at the wrong angle
Right Very poor forgery
Wrong color
Numerals too large Shield Crosses too large
Thick close set letters in bottom banner

2 very crude forgeries with all genuine traits missing

2 Excellent Sperati forgeries
The shape of the top cross not quite correct
The numeral separator is too long
The lower letters have some issues esp. The “G”

1 Groschen blue / white, dull blue/white.
Imperforate. Lithographed.
Size of stamp picture 173/4 X 23 mm.
300,000 issued
Features same as the 1859 1 Groschen

Mi 12a & 12b


Left a very crude stamp advertised on auction as an “error”
Right an excellent forgery
Shading in top left and right is lacking details
Some lowers letters are wrong “schen” note the closed bottom of the “s”, the inclined top of the “c”

Left decent forgery
The main problem is in all the letters, The top ones are tall and too low, the bottom ones touch the frame and are not close to the genuine
Right poor forgery
Top letters are not properly inclined
The crown cross is too small
The bottom letters do not match the original

Left a poor forgery
Large numerals
Faults with type and size of letters
Right an excellent Sperati
Top letters “N, B” not quite right
Top of crown cross very inclined
Ornaments lacking shading marks

2 Groschen red / white, brown-red/ white.
Imperforate. Lithographed.
Size of stamp picture: 173/4 X 221/4 mm.
120,000 issued
Features same as 1859 2 Groschen


Left crude forgery
Shield too small
Letters too large
No dots in ovals
Top of crown touches frame
Right Very good forgery
Left and right bottom ornaments too small and appendages incorrect
Top letters “E, B, U” not like the original

Left extremely crude and wrong color
Right very bad forgery wrong color , huge crown, most letters faulty

Left good forgery
Shape and inclination of top letters faulty, same with bottom ones
No dot in left oval
Tips of top ribbons incorrect
Right excellent forgery, probably a Sperati
Shading lacking in ornaments
A few top and bottom letters do not match

3 Groschen lemon-yellow /white, orange-yellow /white.
Imperforate. Lithographed.
Size of stamp picture: 173/4 X 23 mm.
120,000 issued
Same features as 1859 3 Groschen

Due to the color, it is difficult to compare traits


These are very good forgeries
There are minor issues with several top letters “B, U, R” and bottom letters “r, s, c”
Shading lines are lacking top and bottom
The right one is a modern forgery, paper is newer
Shading lines are lacking top and bottom

Mi 10-13 Plate Flaws

1862 and 1867
The issue here is the difference in value of unused versus used
The 1862 series rouletted 113/4 series is generally more valuable unused
The 1867 series rouletted 10 is more notably valuable used
This is illustrated below

Therefore care must be taken that the 1867 unused are not passed off as unused 1862
Also that unused 1867 do not have fake cancels
Obviously, rouletted stamps are not easy to measure
These issues are beyond the scope of this article and these series need to be obtained from a reliable source with certificates. This may in fact have some bearing on the catalogue values.

Set of auction forgeries

Illustrations of the 1862 and 1867 series – a left, b right

Mi 15

Mi 16

Mi 17

Mi 18

Mi 19

Remainders and Reprints
There have been no reprints of any of the Oldenburg stamps. The lithographed issues were always kept carefully under lock and key when not in use, and were defaced when new issues were made. The plates for the embossed issue were defaced at Berlin on February 18th, 1868, and the original dies were handed over to the Imperial Museum.
The 1/4 groschen, when discontinued, the post-offices were ordered to return their stocks to headquarters and of the 35,000 or thereabouts so returned small lots were sold to various dealers from time to time at face value and on December 21st, 1863, the balance, amounting to 4790, were burnt.

When the Oldenburg stamps were superseded there remained on hand about 46,000 of the 1/3gr, 45,000 of the 1/2gr, 59,000 of the 1gr, 63,000 of the 2gr, and 36,000 of the 3gr. These were purchased from the Government in 1868 by Mr. Carl Dinklage of Oldenburg for $300. Mr. Dinklage sold comparatively few of these until 1875 when Mr. Berrig, of Hanover, paid him $750 for the stock. How they were then distributed is unknown.