Recent Zeppelin Mail Forgeries

Information about new zeppelin mail forgeries was presented at the American Philatelic Society Stamp Show in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on August 8, 2009.

In a presentation to a joint meeting of the Zeppelin Study Group and the Zeppelin Collectors Club, zeppelin mail expert Dieter Leder presented examples of zeppelin covers recently sold on eBay and elsewhere which he identified as forgeries.

zep-mail-34244ebay

(click to enlarge)

The covers were primarily from 1932-1934 South American flights of the LZ-127 Graf Zeppelin, but forged covers from other years and flights, and from the LZ-129 and LZ-130, were also presented.  Most of the covers were franked with stamps from European countries including Italy, The Vatican, and San Marino, and African countries and colonies including Ethiopia, Niger, Cyrenaica, French Morocco, and elsewhere.

The forgeries were produced using original stamps and stationery, to which forged postmarks and cachets were applied.  Because original materials were used, and because the forged cancellations and cachets were generally quite realistic, the overall quality of these forgeries is very high.

Leder described certain features which can be used to help identify the forgeries, including mistakes in the size and typography of cancellations. For example, in the forged postmark below, the lettering is noticeably uneven when compared to a genuine version of the same postmark, and the “C” in “LUFTSCHIFF” is a different shape when examined closely:

Forged postmark (left) compared to genuine postmark (right)

Forged postmark on left, compared to genuine postmark on right. (click to enlarge)

Leder also presented examples of other errors which can be used to help identify the forgeries, such as mistakes in official markings, private markings, the color of cachets, and names and addresses on the covers. For example, a green private marking “VIA Fredrichshafen / Allemagne,” which was used only by zeppelin mail dealer Felix Buchal, appears on forged covers addressed to zeppelin dealer Hermann Stoltz, who would not have had access to Buchal’s routing stamp:

zep-mail-34244a

A green routing stamp used only by zeppelin dealer Felix Buchal, on a forged cover addressed to zeppelin dealer Hermann Stoltz.  (click to enlarge)

Leder told the group that he is keeping certain additional information about the forged covers confidential at this time, to avoid assisting the forgers in correcting their mistakes, and to help Leder and other expertizers identify covers produced by the same forgers in the future.

Addtional details about these forgeries are available in a special Forgeries issue of the Zeppelin Post Journal which was distributed at the APS meeting, and which is available to members of the Zeppelin Study Group.  Further infomation can also be found on the message board located at eZeptalk.de, and Mr Leder and other expertizers are available to analyze particular zeppelin covers about which collectors may be concerned.

2 Comments on "Recent Zeppelin Mail Forgeries"

  1. martin stoffel | March 6, 2014 at 5:41 pm | Reply

    Had the good fortune to subscribe to the Zeppelin Study Group and was looking over a collection at a large auction and noticed a forgery I had just been comparing with items in my own collection. When I brought it to the attention of the auction manager he treated me like an idiot step child so I went home and got the issue with the item in it and rubbed the managers nose in it! The collection was quietly withdrawn from the sale. You REALLY need to know your stuff to get into the more esoteric material that is available, but it is worth it as I have purchased a number of high dollar covers at very attractive prices becasue there was little interest and no specialists in the crowd bidding!

  2. It just looks the same. Wow, that’s amazing that it can be identified whether it’s authentic or not.

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