How can you tell if stamps on ebay etc are "illegals"?

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How can you tell if stamps on ebay etc are "illegals"?

Post by erikc67 »

I was reading with interest a post on the subject of stamps from the Republic of Cabinda. Immediately, it sent me into a panic. Well, a semi-panic, but it's concerning nonetheless.

http://www.stampboards.com/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=34766

Back in January, I bought a book of recent releases from countries such as Rwanda, Malawi, Djibouti, Chad, Khakassia, Buriatia, Burundi and bawkoptoctah (sic?). I visited the UPU Website and read the circulars regarding fake stamps.

I'm not going to be a pest and post pictures of the stamps and ask if they're legit; I know the risk in purchasing stamps on eBay and, even more important, the danger in buying something that you're not fully educated regarding.

I don't have a Scott catalog and I doubt the local library would have a recent enough edition to contain info on some of these stamps, which appear to be CTO at best.

Just as an example, there is a set of eight Disney stamps from Rwanda, dated 2010, with values ranging from 200F to 700F. A second set of eight from Rwanda depict space exploration, with the same aforementioned values.

There are 200 stamps in all, housed in a nice little stamp-themed stock book (w/stamp images on front cover). I won the lot for less than US$10, so if they're bogus, it's no great loss. But the peace of mind from buying off eBay (which I've seen many posts warn against) is shaken.

My question is rhetorical more than anything, as I think I know the answer before I even ask. Without an updated catalog, how can you know with any certainty that the stamps you are purchasing (especially in large lots) are legitimate?

Should a lot of African countries send up a red flag? That smacks of the philatelic version of racism. Seems like the former Soviet republics are also fertile ground for fraudulence.

As a worldwide collector, and a newer one still learning the ropes, I feel like I'm extremely vulnerable to deception. The assumption here is that I need to keep abreast of the UPU circulars.

Still, my guess is that unless you're purchasing stamps in person and are armed with catalogs, there are no guarantees. Anyone care to add their perspective?

Thanks,
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Re: How Can You Tell It's Fake?

Post by Global Administrator »

One sure way is to buy a set of Stanley Gibbons World Catalogues or use the ones at your library.

If they are not NOT SG listed you can assume they are "illegals"

Scott are a lot more 'rubbery' in what they list.
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Re: How Can You Tell It's Fake?

Post by gmw39 »

Why would anyone buy "stamps" from a country they never heard of before? Chances are it is only a money making scheme. On the other hand, most stamps being issued today are a money making scheme for legitimate postal authorities.

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Re: How Can You Tell It's Fake?

Post by Allanswood »

Erik. knowledge and experience takes time, but the Internet and Stampboards helps.
Try searching here for these countries and read previous threads. :D

Many "countries" stamps are not real and not valid for postage. Many "countries" offered don't actually exist.

For example "Khakassia and Buriatia" are Russian regional areas and their "stamps" are not valid for postage, therefore they are Cinderellas, pretty pictures on labels. Not fake, just not real!

There will be other issues from legitimate countries that aren't actually authorised by that country. Don't quote me but I'm sure that I've read about the "Disney" stamps from Rwanda not being authorised by Rwanda or Disney.

But for $10, no great loss hopefully.

Even with an updated catalgoue, you won't find many of these stamps in there as they're not stamps as all.
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Re: How Can You Tell It's Fake?

Post by LHJ »

I might add this problem goes back the infancy of stamp collecting with the issues of Sedang in the 19th century. However, getting knowledge now is as simple as using Google. Googling Republic of Buryatia stamps will bring up the UPU bulletin listing Buryatia and two dozen other bogus issues from Russia.

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Re: How Can You Tell It's Fake?

Post by GlenStephens »

100 dud buys at $10 is $1,000 when I went to school.

Bring me over a stockbook or two with $1000 buy price of fake jam label wallpaper, and I'll give you $5 for it, and add it to one of my junk cartons.

Spend that same $1000 on real stamps from real countries bought from real new issue dealers, and you'll get very good money back when you sell -- simple as that.

AND you'll enjoy owning them far more.

Seems like a total no brainer to me. :idea:

Want to own jam labels - just make them yourself on your ink jet printer - cost zero.

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Re: How Can You Tell It's Fake?

Post by erikc67 »

Lesson learned about taking stamps at face value, no pun intended. The Russian regional Cinderellas are one thing; shame on me for not checking on Khakassia and other unfamiliar "nations." I will be far more skeptical and exercise diligence in the future. But to fake stamps from legitimate issuing nations is really disappointing.

Bottom line, however...while I can use catalogs to check on the authenticity of stamps, there's no way to avoid being stuck with frauds if they're part of a larger lot. Still, had I picked up on the ersatz Khakassia while previewing the auction lot, I would have assumed the entire lot was bogus and would have passed on it.

I must say, the pseudo stamps are quite attractive. Just have to find someone who might be interested in them. Oh well...thanks for the input.
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Re: How can you tell if stamps on ebay etc are "illegals"?

Post by MissVicki »

I think rule #1 needs to be: Do a search of the seller's name on Stampboards before even thinking of buying anything!

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Re: How can you tell if stamps on ebay etc are "illegals"?

Post by figmente »

Khakassia, Buriatia, and bawkoptoctah
- obviously

set of eight Disney stamps from Rwanda, dated 2010
- yup they're illegals

recent CTO releases "from" Malawi, Djibouti, Chad, Burundi
- lots of illegals around from each of these, considering the company they were keeping - yes.

Generally - Look around enough to have some idea of what the legit issues look like. Look around enough to have some idea of what the illegitimate issues usually appear. When in doubt, don't waste your money.

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Re: How can you tell if stamps on ebay etc are "illegals"?

Post by David Benson »

You can always check the UPU, WNS list.

http://www.wnsstamps.ch/en/

All Official issued stamps since 2002,

It is not up to date as entries are only added after the issuing country has paid a fee to have the stamps verified as official issues.

Some countries are behind in their payments,

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Re: How can you tell if stamps on ebay etc are "illegals"?

Post by aethelwulf »

erikc67 wrote:Back in January, I bought a book of recent releases from countries such as Rwanda, Malawi, Djibouti, Chad, Khakassia, Buriatia, Burundi and bawkoptoctah (sic?). I visited the UPU Website and read the circulars regarding fake stamps.
Makers of jam-jar wallpaper target the "poor" countries of Africa as those states won't have the resources to chase down the problem, plus it makes the junk look slightly more legitimate. But really, who would seriously believe Burundi has a reason to celebrate space exploration? Relevance to the country is that number that comes before 1.

In the post-USSR, the legitimate stamp issuers are the independent states, 15 in all--some 'obscure' names like the 'Stans, and the Caucacus region. Then there's some semi-recognized places like Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh and Transnistira. Everything else is a fabrication. The USSR's political map did include a lot of "semi-autonomous republics" (the 'full' republics are the ones that became countries in the breakup). The semi-autonomous idea was to pacify ethnic minorities. The Buriat for example are closely related cousins of the Mongolians, so were left their pastoral homeland, Buriatya, to adminster. Another minority group we all know well of is the Chechens and the little scuffle in Chechnya. The list of minority groups is quite long.

Regarding bawkoptoctah, you're obviously writing the Cyrillic as Latin. Letter "C" is an "S" sound; "H" is an "N" sound. So the name of that place ends in -stan. "P" in Cyrillic is "R"; "B" is a "V". Not sure what place it is you're referring to there, not that it matters a whole lot, this stuff is printed in Latvia or Belarus or somesuch and its commercial value should be whatever a scrap paper dealer will buy it for.

Chalk this up to experience, and be glad you just bought one book of it, and only for $10. Imagine if you had decided to become an online stamp dealer, and bought a truckload of the stuff for $1000s.

If you're interested in collecting thematics, the ATA (American Topical Association) produces lists of all legitimate stamps issued for a wide range of topics, that can be used as a checklist in building a collection.
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Re: How can you tell if stamps on ebay etc are "illegals"?

Post by locakart »

Regarding bawkoptoctah, you're obviously writing the Cyrillic as Latin. Letter "C" is an "S" sound; "H" is an "N" sound. So the name of that place ends in -stan. "P" in Cyrillic is "R"; "B" is a "V". Not sure what place it is you're referring to there, not that it matters a whole lot, this stuff is printed in Latvia or Belarus or somesuch and its commercial value should be whatever a scrap paper dealer will buy it for.
"bawkoptostah" = Башкортостан. Башкортостан = Bashkortostan.

From Wikipedia:
The Republic of Bashkortostan (Russian: Респу́блика Башкортоста́н, Respublika Bashkortostan; Bashkir: Башҡортостан Республикаһы, Başqortostan Respublikahı), also known as Bashkiria (Башки́рия, Bashkiriya) is a federal subject of Russia (a republic). It is located between the Volga River and the Ural Mountains. Its capital is the city of Ufa. Population: 4,072,292 (2010 Census)
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Re: How can you tell if stamps on ebay etc are "illegals"?

Post by Belgian »

This problem doesn't stay confined to Ebay. When I visited a fleamarket lately I found this part-time stamp dealer who had rather nice items for sale. Not the really highlights but nice stuff for both country and topical collectors. To me, it first looked a descent dealer and perhaps he was too. But he also offered something he called 'non-officials'.

These were packets of 100, 250, 500 or even 1000 blocks, souvenir and miniature sheets. All thematical - the usual themes; fungee, soccer, cars, trains, boats, celebrity's, ... - and all originating from the Comoro islands, Congo Brazzaville, Burundi, Angola, Benin and so on. All 'CTO' or all 'mint' and for very reasonable prices.

So, I asked him about them if these were real stamps. He said they were - because the country's did exist - but were 'non-official' because they didn't feature in the catalogs. I said to me they were just fakes produced to rip off philatelists. He got a bit annoyed, saying it wasn't true and he had bought them himself for real stamps.

Maybe it was true, but you never now. Somehow it's a bit a jungle out there. After leaving I thought I beter had pushed a bit harder, made an appeal to his conscious, demanding whether he thought it okay a kid spend his pocket money on printed paper and fake stamps.

Because that's the problem with these things, they are really made targetting the more vulnerable collectors, those who don't have the knowledge, just start or are young and unexperienced.

And they target them with appealing prices, 10 Euro's for 250 sheetlet of 'train stamps', I mean, no kid could resist it.

And with parents or so who don't have any other experience it's just too easy to rip those people off.

Well, luckily there's still stampboards :D

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Re: How can you tell if stamps on ebay etc are "illegals"?

Post by erikc67 »

Well, it wasn't a total loss (which came out to about US$7-8 including postage). The envelope it was mailed in featured a strip of Lithuanian stamps. So for eight bucks, I got three stamps, a nice little stock book and a lesson in collecting...not to mention some professional-looking labels of cats, dogs, space, Princess Diana, butterflies and other topicals. Meanwhile, the seller is still pushing forgeries over eBay. He won't nail me a second time. Thanks all.

As an aside, I've never considered relevance to the country as a possible red flag. Many nations celebrated the work of Diana, or Mother Theresa, and it seems there's nothing fishy about an African nation marking space exploration. Just goes to show how trusting and naive I've been about the hobby.
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Re: How can you tell if stamps on ebay etc are "illegals"?

Post by gmw39 »

Forgeries is an incorrect term. Some kids like to collect stickers. These are just like them, but more sophisticated. Perhaps "stickers" should be what we call such items.

Some of these stickers are proported to come from non-UPU entities. In the past, some of these have become more acceptable -- Lundy Island for one.

I live in an apartment building in New York City called Marlo Towers. Maybe I'll create some Marlo Towers stamps. They could be used on envelopes (I can't call it mail without finding the Postal Police at my door) to provide communications between apartments.

Any buyers out there?

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Re: How can you tell if stamps on ebay etc are "illegals"?

Post by member389845 »

To gmw39 :I don't know why you include Lundy Island in your comments.
If you would care to take some time to read up on it, Lundy is an Island in the Bristol Channel which has had an official postal service since 1929. There is a great deal of philatelic literature on the issues of this island.

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Re: How can you tell if stamps on ebay etc are "illegals"?

Post by gmw39 »

Lundy Island may have an official postal service, but I don't think it is a UPU nation. In fact, it is not a nation. With a population of 28 (according to Wikipedia) I doubt it needs a postal service. I have never seen a non-philatelic cover. Since it is part of the UK, doesn't the British postal service provide mail facilities there? The creation of stamps is strictly to make money.

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Re: How can you tell if stamps on ebay etc are "illegals"?

Post by member389845 »

I'm afraid that you don't know what you are talking about. Over the years that I have been collecting and cataloguing Britsh Locals (Officials and Non-Officials), I have received and seen many covers sent from the island to the mainland where British stamps are added for further transportation.
The need for this postal service (as is the case with Summer Isles and Pabay) is that there is no British GPO service to/from the island and so the local stamps are used to carry the letters, of both the residents and thousands of annual visitors, to the mainland for onward posting.

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Re: How can you tell if stamps on ebay etc are "illegals"?

Post by member389845 »

If your criteria for official stamps is UPU membership, then you are missing out on many countries, for example Taiwan, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, Mount Athos, S.M.O.M. and Palestine, just to name a few.
At the moment the UPU has 192 members, (UN 194).

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Re: How can you tell if stamps on ebay etc are "illegals"?

Post by norvic »

gmw39 wrote:Lundy Island may have an official postal service, but I don't think it is a UPU nation. In fact, it is not a nation. With a population of 28 (according to Wikipedia) I doubt it needs a postal service. I have never seen a non-philatelic cover. Since it is part of the UK, doesn't the British postal service provide mail facilities there? The creation of stamps is strictly to make money.
You are incorrect, I'm afraid, as a little research would show. At one time the General Post Office maintained a post office and telegraph office there, but not for many years now. The nearest PO is on the mainland and Royal Mail has no obligation to collect from or deliver to addresses on the island. Hence the production of local carriage labels for the last 60 years or more to pay for carrying the tourist postcards (and more important mail) to the mainland for transfer to the national postal system.

Lundy is one of the few islands round the coast of the UK where there is a genuine all-year-round need. The island of Herm (in the Channel Islands) was another until Guernsey Post established a branch PO there.
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Re: How can you tell if stamps on ebay etc are "illegals"?

Post by LHJ »

Lundy is very collectable at any rate and vintage items go for a nice price. Doesn't SG list them in one of their specialized catalogs?

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Re: How can you tell if stamps on ebay etc are "illegals"?

Post by member389845 »

I've not seen them in an SG catalogue, but have seen them in their own catalogues one by "Puffin Stamps", and another by Jon Aichison, as well as them appearing in my own CD Modern British Locals Catalogue.

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Re: How can you tell if stamps on ebay etc are "illegals"?

Post by gmw39 »

Looks like I raised the ire of some Lundy enthusiasts. No offence intended. This was actually educational since I learned about the "need" for local stamps. But it also raised a number of questions. With a population of 28 and 20,000 annual tourists there must be a flood of postcards. Do these have a Lundy stamp to pay for the service to Britain and a British stamp to actually deliver it somewhere? Is there actually a postal service on Lundy Island to move mail between residents?

I did find a usage of Lundy stamps on eBay, but it was on a special flight cover. Is the starting price of $219 an indication of how often Lundy stamps are used? I also found a 1937 postcard with both a British and Lundy stamp. However, the Lundy stamp has clearly been added later to enhance the cover. Lots and lots of FDC's and other philatelic covers.

Lundy Island must have the highest ratio of souvenir stamps sales to real usage stamp sales than any other place on earth. I include FDC's, philatelic mail, and novelty postcards with the former.

I respect everyones right to collect what they wish and Lundy Island does have appeal, but let's face it -- Issuing stamps is really just to make money not to carry the mail.

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Re: How can you tell if stamps on ebay etc are "illegals"?

Post by member389845 »

"Issuing stamps is really just to make money not to carry the mail."

Is that why USPS often issues stamps in three or four different formats?

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Re: How can you tell if stamps on ebay etc are "illegals"?

Post by gmw39 »

Every postal service in the world issues stamps hoping that many will never be used. The USA is no exception. There is a big difference between issuing more stamps than needed (formats etc.) like the USA and countries like Burundi and 100 others who issue stamps only for income. Only a small percentage is ever used for postage.

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Re: How can you tell if stamps on ebay etc are "illegals"?

Post by 1606 »

In addition to being worthless, buying jam jar labels--no matter how attractive--only lines the pockets of criminal syndicates who produce them, and funds their other activities.

This is not just a case of "collect whatever you like" - there can be real-world consequences for buying this type of garbage.

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Re: How can you tell if stamps on ebay etc are "illegals"?

Post by LHJ »

1606 wrote:In addition to being worthless, buying jam jar labels--no matter how attractive--only lines the pockets of criminal syndicates who produce them, and funds their other activities.

This is not just a case of "collect whatever you like" - there can be real-world consequences for buying this type of garbage.
Just out of curiousity, what could the real world consequences be? Buying a Cinderella label is not the same as buying a fake Rolex. Customs is not going to confiscate it nor have I heard of any prosecutions of the promoters and sellers of these issues. I think this is more of a case of caveat emptor when buying stamps, the buyer needs to do their research and then decide. Are you thinking maybe of forgeries rather than fantasy issues? The worst that may happen is ridicule by other philatelists but I think a very credible collection could be made of knowingly collecting these issues just as some collectors actively seek out forgeries and fakes of classic issues for "reference" collections. The details of the production and distribution could be quite fascinating.

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Re: How can you tell if stamps on ebay etc are "illegals"?

Post by norvic »

LHJ wrote:
1606 wrote:In addition to being worthless, buying jam jar labels--no matter how attractive--only lines the pockets of criminal syndicates who produce them, and funds their other activities.

This is not just a case of "collect whatever you like" - there can be real-world consequences for buying this type of garbage.
Just out of curiousity, what could the real world consequences be? Buying a Cinderella label is not the same as buying a fake Rolex. Customs is not going to confiscate it nor have I heard of any prosecutions of the promoters and sellers of these issues. I think this is more of a case of caveat emptor when buying stamps, the buyer needs to do their research and then decide. Are you thinking maybe of forgeries rather than fantasy issues? The worst that may happen is ridicule by other philatelists but I think a very credible collection could be made of knowingly collecting these issues just as some collectors actively seek out forgeries and fakes of classic issues for "reference" collections. The details of the production and distribution could be quite fascinating.
You missed the previous line: lines the pockets of criminal syndicates who produce them, and funds their other activities.
There is a wide belief that at least some of these bogus labels are used in money-laundering operations, drugs and terrorism. Fantastic? Not really. If you can take the proceeds of crime and channel it into producing something easy to produce and sell - because there are a load of dummies out there wanting to buy it, and you're not going to worry about the ethics of copyright images or logos - then you can take the proceeds to finance more of whatever illegal activities you are involved in.

Issues - they are not issues, they are not stamps. They are not even rip-offs like the fake Rolex watches you allude to. At least a fake ROLEX or BOLEX is something akin to the genuine. These bogus labels are not copies of genuine stamps: the only similarity is that they are multicoloured, gummed and perforated.

The closest comparison would be to make a watch that has the same sort of case, same sort of strap, and the same sort of face but which had no substance, no clock-work, no hands and wrong numbers on (as many of the 'stamps' have ridiculously incorrect face 'values' and sometimes even the wrong currency indicator.
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Re: How can you tell if stamps on ebay etc are "illegals"?

Post by erikc67 »

LHJ wrote:
1606 wrote:The worst that may happen is ridicule by other philatelists ...
My worst fears have been realized. :oops: :wink:

But plenty of helpful info was sprinkled in, so I'll wipe the egg of my face and move on. I already have wanna-be stamps in my collection in the form of sand dune issues, and a few Maluku Selatan examples were found in my childhood accumulation. As a baseball card collector of 35 years, I'm all too familiar with the dangers of buying material without having extensive knowledge in regards to condition, demand, authenticity and possible doctoring. Except in that hobby, no one would go through the trouble of printing counterfeits of "common" cards.

I'm sure my daughter will enjoy playing with the wanna-be Khakassia kitties. :lol:
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Re: How can you tell if stamps on ebay etc are "illegals"?

Post by norvic »

Don't worry about it.

There can't be many here of a certain age who didn't have Repubilk Maluku Selatan, Abyssinia unissued red cross, Azad Hind, Nagaland, Spanish Telegraphs, and Valencia/Zaragoza (which - if we only knew Spanish when we were 7 or 8 years old - actually told us that they had no postal value "Sin Valor Postal") and others which we no longer have.

It's all part of a learning curve. The surprising thing is that there is so much more information readily available now; nobody thinks "illegals' when they are tempted to buy, but once they look for Cherkassia, Karelia, Bashkortostan, Mordavia, Crimea in their catalogues or reference books - or ask on forums such as this - that the true provenance of the things comes out.

Look, and learn. Make mistakes - once only!
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Re: How can you tell if stamps on ebay etc are "illegals"?

Post by LHJ »

I disagree - it would not have been a philatelic mistake to purchase sets of Azad Hind or Russian Vlasov issues even though the initial proceeds helped fuel Hitler's Third Reich. These sets sell for quite respectable values and have historical meaning.

While one can speculate who is behind fantasy issues, I would like to see some proof an organized crime syndicate is responsible. I was acquainted with the late Clive Feigenbaum, former SG Director, who was a prolific producer of these sort of stamps until he died a few years ago. Yes, he led a checkered career but I would not call him an organized crime boss:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clive_Feigenbaum

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Re: How can you tell if stamps on ebay etc are "illegals"?

Post by norvic »

I didn't say it was a mistake to purchase them - though I might. When I bought them they were lining the pockets of an approval dealer who knew that they weren't postage stamps, and that is the similarity here.

I'm afraid I don't have time to type, yet again, everything that's to be said about these things. I have written before that I was threatened by one of the producers for replicating the UPU circulars on my website.

Search this forum, or do a google search, for 'illegal stamps' - apart from a handful of different threads here you will see multiple other references on newsgroups and many other websites, including messages I posted back in 2003 and earlier!!
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Re: How can you tell if stamps on ebay etc are "illegals"?

Post by LHJ »

"lines the pockets of criminal syndicates who produce them, and funds their other activities.
There is a wide belief that at least some of these bogus labels are used in money-laundering operations, drugs and terrorism."

But you can cite a single reference that supports the above?

Obviously buying the stamps of Tamil Elaam or Chechnya funded a terrorist state (in the opinion of some) but that was pretty obvious. But I'd like to see evidence that the issues of Bashkoristan are definitely involved in mafia like activites.

Image

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Re: How can you tell if stamps on ebay etc are "illegals"?

Post by norvic »

Not at present. There was a lot of discussion back in the early years of the last decade but I've moved on even if the crooks haven't. Read the UPU circulars: you can bet that the people producing these labels aren't doing so just to provide pretty pictures for fans of Michael Jackson, Marilyn Monroe and the Teletubbies.
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Re: How can you tell if stamps on ebay etc are "illegals"?

Post by member389845 »

Unfortunately we are simply reverting to the basic question -
Legal or Illegal, to Whom?
Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, not illegal to Turkey.
Abkhazia & South Georgia, not illegal to Russia.
Nagorno-Karabakh, not illegal to Armenia.
Taiwan, illegal to CPR.
South Korea, illegal to North Korea
Falkland Islands, illegal to Argentina.
Biafra, illegal to Nigeria.
Israel, illegal to all Arab states except Jordan and Egypt.
Etc. etc.

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Re: How can you tell if stamps on ebay etc are "illegals"?

Post by LHJ »

member389845 wrote:Unfortunately we are simply reverting to the basic question -
Legal or Illegal, to Whom?
Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, not illegal to Turkey.
Abkhazia & South Georgia, not illegal to Russia.
Nagorno-Karabakh, not illegal to Armenia.
Taiwan, illegal to CPR.
South Korea, illegal to North Korea
Falkland Islands, illegal to Argentina.
Biafra, illegal to Nigeria.
Israel, illegal to all Arab states except Jordan and Egypt.
Etc. etc.
Actually a good point, the US banned the sales of stamps of the PRC, North Korea, and Vietnam at various times and maybe still bans Cuba? Those would have been illegal stamps. The others are just labels one can buy or not buy without fear of prosecution.

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Re: How can you tell if stamps on ebay etc are "illegals"?

Post by Global Administrator »

member389845 wrote:

Falkland Islands, illegal to Argentina.
"Illegal"???

Are you saying a letter mailed from Port Stanley gets burnt or returned?

I do not think so.
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Re: How can you tell if stamps on ebay etc are "illegals"?

Post by member389845 »

Wouldn't be so sure about that,
but I'd like to bet that they'll do one of two things :
The same a UK did after Rhodesian UDI. Treat the envelope as if there was no stamp on it and charge postage due.
Return to sender - no postal service available.

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Re: How can you tell if stamps on ebay etc are "illegals"?

Post by norvic »

member389845 wrote:Unfortunately we are simply reverting to the basic question -
Legal or Illegal, to Whom?
No, only you are reverting to the basic question. Those of us who know what we are talking about know that what is generally and actually meant by "illegals" are those labels which bear the name of a country (or part of a country) which postal administration and government has not authorised their production. You are simply trying to cloud the issue for no good purpose. Once again I'll show some examples of what we all know are bogus labels being sold by some knowledgeable dealers as postage stamps, or 'locals'.

Tuva (part of Russian Federation) - Teletubbies, BBC television programme:
Image

Kalmykia (part of Russian Federation) - lighthouses
Image

Eritrea - Monroe
Image

Gagauzia (part of Moldova) - Dogs set
Image

Tatarstan (part of Russian Federation) - premium cars. The person in the USA who owns the car on the stamp told me that the picture had been taken from his website and used on a stamp (without his consent of course)
Image
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Re: How can you tell if stamps on ebay etc are "illegals"?

Post by member389845 »

"No, only you are reverting to the basic question. Those of us who know what we are talking about "

So you are bragging once again that you are the only one who knows what he is talking about.
As someone who has been collecting non-official stamps for over 30 years I think that I know what I am talking about, as do the other people on this post.
All you do is put on more and more scans of items which everyone agrees are illegals, but don't relate to the other matters brought up.
Again I say, the question remains "ILLEGAL TO WHOM?", and you certainly are not the ultimate decider.

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Re: How can you tell if stamps on ebay etc are "illegals"?

Post by norvic »

No, I wouldn't pretend to be a decider, I have always said that everybody can spend their money on whatever they want to, but I do think it is important for the hobby that they know the status of what they are buying.

You were selective in your quote.... the full sentence was Those of us who know what we are talking about know that what is generally and actually meant by "illegals" - and I count you in that because you do!

The ones that you referred to we have discussed elsewhere (Nagorno-Karabakh, Abkhazia, PMR, Northern Cyprus etc). But I am still on the original question which was

How can you tell if stamps on ebay etc are "illegals"?

The ones you refer to (previously discussed) are not illegals in the sense that the OP was asking his question. With the limited number of images I have close to hand, I sought only to demonstrate the type and illustrate with some examples.

Here's the cover and some pages of a catalogue of these (so just because they are in a catalogue it doesn't make them 'good' as I suspect the producer may have been involved in the production :) ) including a list of the 'countries' and thematic list of the subjects:

Image
Image
ImageImage

Sorry about the quality, it's the best I can do at the moment within the size constraints.
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Re: How can you tell if stamps on ebay etc are "illegals"?

Post by Global Administrator »

member389845 wrote:
Wouldn't be so sure about that, but I'd like to bet that they'll do one of two things :

The same a UK did after Rhodesian UDI. Treat the envelope as if there was no stamp on it and charge postage due.

Return to sender - no postal service available.
I think you'd lose that bet.
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Re: How can you tell if stamps on ebay etc are "illegals"?

Post by member389845 »

I have both volumes of that catalogue, and agree that all the items listed there are "illegals".
What I have been trying to say is that surely the internationally well known catalogues (SG, Scott, Yvert, Michel, Zumstein) would not list illegal stamps. However you'll find countries/stamps there that UPU relying on complainant letters from various philatelic agencies claim are illegal.

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Re: How can you tell if stamps on ebay etc are "illegals"?

Post by norvic »

member389845 wrote:I have both volumes of that catalogue, and agree that all the items listed there are "illegals".
What I have been trying to say is that surely the internationally well known catalogues (SG, Scott, Yvert, Michel, Zumstein) would not list illegal stamps. However you'll find countries/stamps there that UPU relying on complainant letters from various philatelic agencies claim are illegal.
Yes, agreed, but those are 'politically' unacceptable rather than "illegal" in the sense that the OP asked the question.

I am trying to answer the question clearly and plainly. Some other messages in the thread have clouded the issue. I suspect the OP has now gone away totally confused. You and I both know what he means and that is the question that we should have been trying to answer, I think.

Now I'm done for the present. I really must send some stamps to my customers!
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Re: How can you tell if stamps on ebay etc are "illegals"?

Post by petec »

To be honest I don't think you can, I have dealt on ebay for about six years you just get to know the sellers you can trust.The only
come back you have is feedback if you feel cheating is going on tell the world but be sure of your facts.I don't think I have been conned
but I most likely have. Don't spend any amount of money before you are sure of the seller.
Petec
P>S>> hope they are genuine

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Re: How can you tell if stamps on ebay etc are "illegals"?

Post by LHJ »

Bottom line - any hobbyist (coins, stamps, postcards, ephemerma, old glass) is going to get hosed by themselves and others unless they do their research first, it's part of the learning curve of the hobby. When I was starting out collecting 40+ years the stamp album came with a big worldwide packet, the packet maker had stuffed it with those then illegal PRC stamps in blocks of 4 no less from the 40's and 50's. It was considered worse than junk since it was not cataloged by Scott. I happily scotch taped up them up, if only I knew better they would maybe be worth more than my entire collection today.

Anyone who knows about former Iron curtain CTOs and Sand Dunes is not going to fall for the examples listed above.

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Re: How can you tell if stamps on ebay etc are "illegals"?

Post by erich »

I'd like to know if there is any proof that these issues support terrorists, the Russian mafia, etc. or just some enterprising folks who don't care about Burundian copyright law. I'd like to see some evidence that this is not some urban legend generated by the folks who just don't like this stuff.

I agree that these are Cinderellas, not stamps, and should be identified properly when sold.
I also agree that they are not worth much of anything.

Still, if they are not funding some larger criminal enterprise, collect what you like. If they're cheap and you like the topics (and know they're not real stamps) what's the problem?

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Re: How can you tell if stamps on ebay etc are "illegals"?

Post by member389845 »

Perhaps someone can tell me how many Buriatia "stamps" the terrorists have to sell in order to finance the purchase of a single Kalachnikov rifle, not to mention (G-d forbid) a surface to air missile.
Claiming that these are issued by criminal terrorist gangs is a whole load of nonsense.

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Re: How can you tell if stamps on ebay etc are "illegals"?

Post by erikc67 »

norvic wrote:
member389845 wrote:I suspect the OP has now gone away totally confused. You and I both know what he means and that is the question that we should have been trying to answer, I think.
In a larger sense, I'm trying to learn on both counts. My book of phonies aside, the important element for me is to know what releases are emanating from the official postal authority for each nation, while understanding that what defines a nation is subject to interpretation and that certain "nations" are unrecognized for political reasons or because they can't pony up UPU dues, etc. If a stamp is "legal tender" for delivery within its borders, that meets my criteria.

From a definition standpoint, my gut tells me that any stamp that is purported to represent a country that has an official postal authority -- particularly when that stamp includes a monetary value (as most do) -- that stamp is illegal. I would consider the Khakassia stamps to be illegal as well, since the inclusion of a value is akin to counterfeiting money, regardless of whether or not the primary intent was to sucker Western neophytes into snapping them up.

So by that definition, ANY stamp with a value on it that is not legal tender for mail in its "nation" of origin is, in fact, illegal since it can theoretically be used to defraud the local postal service by masquerading as valid postage.
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Re: How can you tell if stamps on ebay etc are "illegals"?

Post by norvic »

(Sorry, started this reply an hour ago and got sidetracked.)

As I said earlier, this whole topic has been discussed in depth a decade ago, but it is surprising that so few people now asking the questions seem to have read the details. As LHJ wrote above:
Bottom line - any hobbyist (coins, stamps, postcards, ephemerma, old glass) is going to get hosed by themselves and others unless they do their research first, it's part of the learning curve of the hobby
The recorded history of the subject requires much more time than many people will give it. I'm sure that the money-laundering etc was simply one of those things that we discussed back then; it may have been pure speculation, I can't remember now.

I would direct those who have a bit of time to read this page carefully. Note that it has not been updated since 2002, which at least confirms the views at that time http://www.pwmo.org/Illegals/frame-illegals-en.htm
Many of the webpages linked are no longer in existence (nor indeed some of the people mentioned). But others are: click on the links and see the company that boasts:
These Russian locals are issued on behalf of various breakaway and renegade Russian Republics. The topical issues from other countries on this site, are not authorized by the countries noted. These locals span the topical spectrum, and include most popular topics. They are NOT VALID for postage, and cannot be exhibited in competitive exhibitions, but they are, nevertheless, extremely popular because of their lively and colorful designs, easy accessibility, and, very important for you the collector, their affordability.
This page has been updated as recently as 2011 and lists companies selling illegals - http://www.pwmo.org/articles/illegals-sites.htm

However, in this 10-year summary, the author concludes "that, despite the implementation of a labor-intensive and costly WNS online database, there are no signs that the situation (on illegals) has significantly improved in the last ten years." Another full-page read http://www.pwmo.org/Illegals/WADP-WNS-Ballance-Sheet.htm

This page - http://www.pwmo.org/Illegals/2012-ten-lost-wns-years.htm - demonstrates why the enquiring collector cannot rely on the WNS database to determine whether his potential purchases are 'good' or bad.

It's hard to argue with these views expressed on Wikipedia:
Consequences of illegal postage issues

Illegal stamps are said to result in adverse consequences for several different parties. Postal administrations lose revenue to illegal issues and stamp collectors may lose money by mistakenly buying illegal stamps that have little or no monetary value. In addition, inexperienced or non-philatelists have been tricked into buying illegal stamps that are worthless memorabilia for their favorite hobby or interests. For example, AskPhil quotes an example of someone paying $1,225 on eBay for three Tiger Woods labels, issued illegally in the name of Turkmenistan.[3] Additionally, legitimate stamp dealers may see their market, and the reputation of their industry, eroded by the illegal issues market. Finally, artists and photographers do not receive royalties from artistic work that is used on illegally printed issues.
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