As the beginner collector matures from intermediate hobbyist to serious philatelist the desire to add intelligently to one’s collection increases, so too does the need to verify and authenticate those additions. When collecting in certain areas of the hobby where forgeries and forgers are known to exist, these additions can challenge even the most knowledgeable collector. One of these areas of collecting that has seen a proliferation of forged issues is that of Germany, German States and German Colonies.
For the more common forgeries of German material, worldwide guides such as The Serrane Guide, Album Weeds and the Linn’s Focus on Forgeries compilations can provide some preliminary insight and assistance in identifying the more common forgeries. But for more detailed information regarding all of the known forgeries of Germany and German-related material, especially for the latter, a more specialized handbook is often required.
Color Page Detailing Genuine Michel Baden #4 Issue
Undoubtedly the most comprehensive and authoritative reference source for collectors of Germany as well as its colonies and states is the Reference Manual of Forgeries published by the Germany Philatelic Society, commonly known as the GPS Reference Manual of Forgeries.
Color Page for Forged Michel Baden #4 (Gutter Pair) Type II
Released in a series of forty-six individual sections with the first section appearing in September 1975 and the most recent in November 2000, the manual is the creation of GPS member Dr. Werner M. Bohne. Bohne's painstaking work illustrates and lists every known stamp forgery as well as in many cases the fraudulent cancellations associated with German issues. In his introduction Dr. Bohner states that his intentions were “to simplify the identification of fraudulent material, all information such as date of issue, printing quantity, etc. has been eliminated. The Manual is not a substitute for expertization, but is intended to make the collector aware of existing forgeries.”
Later compiled into fifteen volumes, the manual contains detailed forgery information organized as follows:
- Volume 1 – German States (Baden – Bergedorf)
- Volume 2 – German States (Bremen – Hanover)
- Volume 3 – German States (Heligoland – North German Postal District)
- Volume 4 – German States (Oldenburg – Wurttemberg)
- Volume 5 – Germany (1871 – 1945)
- Volume 6 – Germany (Allied Occupation)
- Volume 7 – Federal Republic of Germany (Berlin)
- Volume 8 – Germany (Soviet Zone)
- Volume 9 – Germany (Local Issues 1945-1946)
- Volume 10 – German Post Offices Abroad
- Volume 11 – German Occupation (1914-1918)
- Volume 12 – Danzig, Memel, Saar, Sudetenland)
- Volume 13 – German Occupation (1939 – 1945 Adria – France)
- Volume 14 – German Occupation (1939 – 1945 Poland / General Government)
- Volume 15 – German Military Issues (1942 – 1945).
All of the listings include enlarged black and white illustrations (later additions included color images) of both genuine and forged issues. Included with the illustrations are itemized lists of the distinguishing characteristics for both the genuine and fraudulent items. The manual uses Michel numbers for easy identification.
Page Depicting Fraudulent Bavarian Cancels
Even without some of the other data sometimes found in forgery guides like production or rarity information, the GPS Manual of Forgeries is an excellent resource for the collector of German material in assisting them with the identification and discovery of all known forgeries. The manual provides extensive information for both genuine and forged issues as well as fraudulent cancellations. For those interested in exploring the manual, it is housed in the Closed Stacks area of the APRL and can used either at the library, borrowed by APS members or copies and scans of its pages can be requested by contacting the library at email@example.com.