Forgeries of the Bull’s-eye & Inclined (Olho-de-boi & Inclinados)

This is only an overview of Brazil forgeries.
For anyone looking for in depth information, I would suggest the following.
– Falsificações e Fraudações na Filatelia Brasileira – Marcelo G. C. Studart
– Catálogo Histórico dos Selos do Império do Brasil 1843-1889 – Marcelo G. C. Studart

The Forgers: Francois Fournier, N. Imperato, Erasmus Oneglia, Jean de Sperati, Spiro Brothers, Georg Zechmeier, M. Mercier, G. Patroni and several modern forgers.

Giovanni Patroni was a stamp forger. He was born in Italy, later lived in London, British West Indies and Philadelphia (source: ‘Philatelic Forgers, their Lives and Works’ by V.E.Tyler). He did business under the names ‘Cosmopolitan Stamp Co’, ‘National Stamp Co’ and ‘Stanmore, Lex & Co’ (same source) and other names according to The American Journal of Philately.
After he almost got convicted for stamp forgery in Philadelphia, he left for South America. He forged stamps of Nicaragua in 1875 (postal forgeries, source: V.E.Tyler) for which he got arrested.
According to Tyler he made forgeries of Angola, Baden, Brazil, British Guiana, Cuba, Cundinamarca, Ecuador, French Colonies, Hanover, Hyderabad, Iceland, Japan, Luxemburg, Nicaragua, Pacific Steam Navigation Co, St.Thomas and Prince, Tolima etc.

It is reported that there are at least 24 different philatelic forgeries of the 1843 Bulls Eyes and 16 different philatelic forgeries of the 1844 “Inclinados”.

Olho-de-boi & Inclinados – A short History

Brazil had the honour of being the first country in the world to adopt the cheap postage system introduced by Great Britain. It appears that a Brazilian consul, Mr. J. D. Sturz, who was stationed in a European town, comprehended its importance, and used all his influence at home to get it tried there.
His efforts were successful, the decree ordering that postage should be prepaid in stamp, was signed on the 29th November, 1842, but the series did not actually come into use until the 1st July, 1843. It was originally intended to put the sovereign’s effigy on the stamps, as in England, but (as the report goes), the postmaster-general considered it would be showing disrespect to obliterate the face of the monarch, so recourse went to the ” bull’s-eye” type.

The design of the first Brazilian issue, was inspired by banknotes issued by the Imperial Bank of Brazil. For a long time it was assumed that the stamps were printed in London, as the notes were also printed by Perkins, Bacon & Company.  However, in 1841 Brazilian customs authorities had confiscated an engraving printing press and that this press was used by the Brazilian Mint. By the end of December 1842, all necessary equipment was bought to allow the Mint to start producing their own stamps in Rio de Janeiro. Below is a picture of the original press.

Eventually emerging from carefully preserved, if musty, official records was the prime fact that, in 1841, the Brazilian customs authorities seized an engraving machine from one Pedro Ludwig, confiscated it and used it in the service of the Mint.
On Christmas Eve 1842 a transferring machine and accessories were bought by the Mint from one Eduardo Lemerick.

The 30-reis Bull’s Eye was issued August 1, 1843, to pay the rate on printed matter and letters and papers of the judiciary. The number printed was 1,148,994. Of these, 292,377 were destroyed as remainders, so the quantity sold totaled 856,617.

The 60-reis Bull’s Eye was issued August 1, 1843, to satisfy the base domestic letter rate established by the postal reform legislation of 1842. The rate carried a letter of up to four octaves, slightly more than a half-ounce, between any two points in Brazil. Considering the size of the country and the generally poor road conditions, the rate, which was roughly equivalent to 2-2/3 British pence, was quite reasonable. The number printed was 1,502,142. Of these, 166,277 were destroyed as remainders, so the quantity sold totaled 1,335,865.

The 90-reis Bull’s Eye was issued August 1, 1843, to pay the rate for a letter weighing between four and six octaves (about .5 to .75 ounce). This rate was good for any domestic origin and destination. The number printe was 349,182. Of these, 8,057 were destroyed as remainders, so the quantity sold totaled 341,125.

Jean-Baptiste Moens, the pioneer Belgian dealer, in his journal Le Timbre-Poste vol 5 p 22. Moens notes that the Bull’s Eyes were engraved by Srs. Carlos Custodio de Azevedo and Quintino José de Faria, engravers to the Mint, and were printed on a machine press by Srs. Clementino Geraldo de Gonviea and Florentine Rodriguez Prado at the workshops of the National Treasury.

Copper plates were used, and little more than two months were spent in engraving the dies and preparing the first plate. It contained fifty-four stamps, consisting of three panes of eighteen stamps of each value. That plate was finished on 29 April 1843.

On 9 May, the President of the Treasury ordered the stamps to be printed from the workshop of the Apolices Press, which adjoined the Mint. By 29 May a second plate of fifty-four of the three values was ready; a third plate, containing fifty-four stamps of 30 reis in three panels of 18 was ready on17 June but it was used rarely. On 27 June, sixty of the 30 reis appeared on a completed fourth plate. Two more plates of sixty of the 60 reis stamps were ready respectively on 11 and 20 July. (compiled from various sources)

Characteristics of the genuine stamps

Band 1 has a central circular white ball with groups of white leaves either side in the sequence of 3,3,3 and 1 separated from one another by a pair of white dots.
Band 2 comprises black dashes in horizontal pairs, alternating with pairs spaced more widely apart with a much shorter dash between them.
Band 3 is comprised of black dashes in an alternating sequence of parallel groups of 4 & 5 black dashes.
Band 4 is a solid black line with a double layer of black diamond shapes on either side.

Other Characteristics to look for:
1. In the 30R a straight line drawn through the top circle will cross to the left of the bottom one.
2. 6. The top circle is generally round, the bottom one will be somewhat oval & inclined slightly (this is not a consistent trait)
3. Note the curls especially the left one in the the 0. Note the position vs the right one.
4. The background is visible in the shadow line.
5. Note where the inner dark shading ends (6 o’clock)
7. The tail is split and the left one is only slightly higher than the right.
8. There are no distinct shadings or shapes added on the top of the 3.
9. Note the distance of the edge of the 3 from the frame.
10. The leaf ornaments consist both left & right of 3,3,3,1 elements. Also note where the right top one ends relative to the left one.

Aside from the features mentioned in the 30R;
1. 2. A line drawn straight will pass through the center of both circles.
3. The ball of the 6 should be round.
4. Note the difference in the 2 curls.
5. Note where the shadow ends. (5 o’clock)

Aside from the features mentioned in the 30R;
1. The top dot is large and tends to be rounder and without the inclination of the bottom one. (not a standard)
2. Note the shape of the shading.
3. The loop is often not complete & there may be a break in the outside left (not consistent).
4. Straight lines crosses through centers.
5. Note where the shadows end (4 & 6’oclock)
6. The right curl is higher than the left one.

Classification of the Genuine Bull’s Eyes
As the dies were used, wear progressively affected the fine details of the first printings.
Printings shown, left to right, early, intermediate, late


Generally, given the intricate details of the background and bands, most forgeries are fairly easy to spot, so I am not including all the details on each. They vary from Good to Crude.


The first one the ball of the 3 is wrong, the other 2, the curls do not come close to the original

The left one, the shape of the tail of 3, the added artifact (1), the long split in the tail, the middle one all the curls are overdone, the tail is very narrow, the right one has no split in the tail and the bands are missing.


The left one is very crude overall, the background is totally wrong, the curls are wrong the top * bottom circles are too small, the middle one has a very poor background, the right one is decent but has added elements in the top & bottom ornaments.

The left has large wi\hite lines in the background, the middle one ihas a lot of missing details in the background, the right one, the curls are incomplete.


The problems have been noted

The left one has a very crude background, the middle one the bands are too heavily drawn.


Sperati forgeries with fake cancels

Characteristics of the genuine Inclinados

Left Type I
1. Edge of 3 does not touch the frame
2. Ball of 3 touches frame

Right Type II
1. Edge of 3 touches the frame
2. Ball of 3 does not touch frame

Left Type I
1. Hinge of 6 is rounded
2. Left inner side of 0 is rounded
3. Note where the band touches the 6

Right Type II
1. Hinge of 6 is pointed
2. Left inner side of 0 is flat
3. Note where the band touches the 6

Left Type I
1. No tangent line

Middle Type II
1. Break in ball of 9 (not easily seen at times)
2. Straight line tangent
3. Break in left lower side of 0 (not easily seen at times)

Right Type IIa
1. Part of frame line visible inside 9
2. Part of frame line visible inside 0
3. Spot inside top of 0
4. Tangent line curved
5. Spot inside tail of 9


All the inclinado forgeries I have are very crude. The fine details of the genuine background are missing in all of them. Most, the numerals are poorly drawn and the frames are not proportioned.

The next series to follow…

A rare Fournier sheet of forgeries