The Stamps of the Suez Canal Company 1868 - Eighth Forgery
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Attribution: Saatjian

Designations: Boulad: 18 Barefoot: Reprint Forgery

Denominations: 1, 5, 20 & 40 Cents


The original printing stone for the 40cent value of this set went missing from the Canal Company’s archive and only came to light in 1906 amongst the effects of Erard Leroy d’Etiolles, a Parisian stamp dealer with offices close to those of the Suez Canal Company. The means by which he acquired the stone must remain a matter for speculation.

Saatjian, a dealer of Armenian origin working in Paris, subsequently bought it at auction for the sum of 80 Francs.

Saatjian constructed printing stones for the 1 Cent, 5 cent and 20 cent values using transfers taken from the 40 cent stone, however, the process used for the 1 and 5 cent stamps differered from that used for the 20 cent stamps, and this is reflected in the differing characteristics of the forgeries produced by the differing procedures.

The printing stone for the 1 cent value was constructed using a transfer from a single position of the 40 cent stone, which, after changing the digit in the circles of value at each corner, he transfered into all eight positions of an intermediate stone. Fifteen transfers from this internediate stone were then used to prepare the printing stone of 120 subjects. A similar procedure was used for the 5c denomination, but using a different position on the 40 cent sheet.

The resultant forgeries of both denominations will therefore each display two sets of flaws:
For the 20c value the situation is slightly more complicated in that four separate specimens of the 40c value were modofied and 30 transfers of each used to prepare the printing stone. The resultant forgeries of this denomination will therefore each display two sets of flaws:
The 40c stone was used as purchased and the constant flaws displayed by these reprints are those present on the genuine stamps. Printings derived from this stone can be classed as unofficial reprints . Those from the reconstructed stones for the 1c, 5c and 20c are forgeries.

For all practical purposes, the 1 cent, 5 Cent and 20 Cent values derived from these reconstructed printing stones will appear so similar to the genuine as to render them highly deceptive. They will however not display the characteristic plate flaws typical of the transfers from which the genuine stamps were derived and in the case of the 1 cent and 5 cent values there will be only four possibilities to consider before an opinion regarding the status of a particular specimen can be reached. In the case of the 20cent value there will be 120 possibilities to exclude before any particular specimen can be branded as a forgery making characterisation by this method impracticable.

Fortunately as the 1 Cent and 5 Cent stamps arise from a the use of a different base 40c stamp, there are sufficient minor differences arising from these modified transfers to make it possible to identify stamps produced in this way without recourse to plating, and for these two values there will be only one set of flaws for each value to consider to reach a conclusion regarding the status of the specimen under examination. These criteria are now discussed in relation to individual members of the set.

1 Cent

Forgery 8 - 1 Cent - First Example

  1. The C of CANAL has a short or broken tail.
  2. There is a break in the lower section of the left leg of the first A of CANAL.
  3. The top right serif of the first M of MARITIME is missing and the left leg is broken above the lower serif.
  4. The top of the smokestack is joined by a line to the rigging on the right.
  5. There is a large roughly square white flaw on the smokestack.

The above example does not display any of the plate flaws characteristic of the four transfers used to prepare the printing stone for the genuine one cent stamp.

Both this and the example illustrated below display the flaws characteristic of the Type 1 transfer of the 40c value, namely the broken crossbar to the T of MARITIME and the long T of POSTES. >.

There is a significant variation amongst individual specimens in the extent to which these flaws are evident. The example illustrated below shows these shortcomings in extreme form.

Forgery 8 - 1 Cents - Second Example

Appendix 8.1 contains a a detailed examination of transfer types of the 1 cent Saatiian Forgery and the variance in this forgery resulting from the use of an intermediate stone.
5 Cents

Forgery 8 - 5 Cents

  1. The C of CANAL is missing its tail.
  2. Break in the crossbar to N of Canal.
  3. Break near the top of the vertical rigging to right of smokestack.
  4. Break in the inner circle of the left hand bottom value tablet to the right of the c.
  5. Black line across the top of the lower appendage to the top left value circle.
  6. Does not display any of the characteristic flaws of any of the four transfers used to prepare the printing stone used to print the genuine 5cent stamp.
  7. The above stamp displays the characteristic flaws of the Type 1 of the 40c value: a break in the left hand cross bar of the T of MARITIME and a long T in POSTES.
20 Cents

Forgery 8 - 20 Cents - Example 2

Displays the plate flaws specific to one of the four transfers used to construct the printing stone
  1. Transfer Type 1
    • A break in the down stroke of the "T" of "Postes"
    • A break of the line up to the mizzen mast, level with the top of the smokestack
  2. Transfer Type 2
    • The N of CANAL has a bent diagonal stroke.
    • The left leg of the final “M” of “Maritime” is separated from its lower serif
  3. Transfer Type 3
    • There is a dot below the ball of the "2" in the top left hand value circle.
    • The serif of the final "M" of "Maritime" touches the oval below
  4. Transfer Type 4
    • The two o'clock ray of the right hand star is missing
40 Cents

Forgery 8 - 40 Cents

This value was printed using the original stone. It is therefore an unofficial reprint as distinct from the other three values of the set, which are forgeries. It should therefore display the characteristic plate flaws of one of the four transfers used in its production, in this example Type 4. These are:
  1. A spot to the right of the centre bar of the E of SUEZ(very faint).
  2. A spot to the top right of the character 4 of the top right value circle.
  3. A coloured dot between the frame lines of the bottom left hand value circle directly below the junction of the vertical and horizontal strokes of the character 4.
  4. In the right hand value circle the character 4 is joined by a line to the zero.

Additional distinguishing features of Saatjian Forgeries: The gum on the back of the stamps is smooth and transparent whereas that on the genuine stamps is opaque and crackly. This is the easiest means of differentiation, but can of course only be applied to mint examples. This feature is illustrated below where the reverse of the stamp on the right displays the network of cracks in the surface of the gum typical of the genuine stamp, whereas the stamp on the left presents the smooth appearance typical of the Saatjian forgery.

Forgery 8 - Comparison of gums