AN EXAMINATION OF HELIGOLAND STAMPS

Catalog Numbering for Michel, Scott et al.
Printings, Remainders and Scarcity
The Michel  6 Varieties
The Michel  8 Varieties
The Schilling Reprints
Table of Colors, Gum and Paper
Genuine and Imitation Paper
Color Comparison of Originals and Reprints
Reprints on Lemberger Pages

Maps of Heligoland       Heligoland Cancels
Postal History      Postal Rates
Reprint Data Tables    Forgeries
Lemberger and Michel Color Chips
Proofers' Signatures
Proofers: Names and Signature Placement
Higher Value Stamps
The Robert Pollard Study
The Wagner Collection

This may be considered an exercise in which I take a set of Heligoland stamps provided by a friend and attempt to classify them by using the available reference works. They are examined below in the order in which they appear on the album page and not always in the order they were issued.

Because my German is sketchy, it is more of a challenge than it might otherwise be. I examined the stamps, copied them with a scanner and returned them; then I got them back again so I could examine the paper, the gum, and count the perforations. Counting perforations helps a great deal. The scanner is a very nice tool because it does the work of a 50x binocular microscope, costs much less, and does not fatigue the eyes. [But if you get really serious about Heligoland Stamps you will want to consider adding a microscope for detection of repaired perforations, study of paper types, etc.]

The most obvious differences between genuine and reprinted or forged stamps are the head dies. The heads were embossed in a separate operation from the typographic application of the inscriptions and the frames. The embossing left the heads raised above the rest of the paper. The typographic inscription, on the other hand, leaves an impression down in the paper that can sometimes be seen and felt from the back. Please note that with typography one can either apply the ink to the lettering alone or leave the ink off the lettering and apply it to the surrounding space. If the lettering has the ink, it is called a positive inscription (e.g., Michel 6 below). If the surround has the ink, it is called negative (e.g., Mi 2 below). Apparently some typographic plates were raised for the inscription and others raised for the surround, like engraving. This is unclear to me.

I have some stamps that appear to be perfectly flat, as though they were produced by offset lithography, without any impression in the stamp paper at all. [I have since learned that such stamps were, in fact, produced with lithography and are pure forgeries. This is one of the ways they are distinguished from reprints.]

There are three types of head dies.

Here is an illustration of the the three types. I first saw it in Arthur Wülbern (1906— See his Book ); next in Kohl's monumental Briefmarken-Handbuch , 11 Auflage, Band IV, Dr. H. Munk ed.,1933; then in Hermann Schloss' Distinguishing Characteristics of Classic Stamps—Old German States (1951 edition?); next in Hellmuth Lemberger's indispensible guide, Helgoland Philatelie (1970); and more lately it has been used in the Michel Spezial Katalog.


Queen Victoria—The Three Head Types
Headtype I Headtype II Headtype III

Type I appears in the rouletted issues Michel 1-4 ( except Michel 1 II [die Type II]) and in the perforated issues Michel 8a-c, 8f (error), 9 and 10. All others are Type II except Michel 7 which is the only Type III.
Type I has a solid round knot of hair hanging from Queen Victoria's chignon. The back of the the chignon near its bottom has the negative shape of a Roman nose. The base of the neckline is rather pointed and symetrical.
Type II has a hanging curl open towards the neck and is shaped rather like a sicle or the tip of a corkscrew. The neckline is rounded slightly upward and the underside of the neckline is concave.
Type III has a short curl pointing to the neck and it may be compared to a spigot or a tongue. The neckline comes to a sharp point and is convex on the underside.
Sometimes the cancel covers the hair knot and you must rely on the other characteristics. One characteristic seldom mentioned is that the Queen Victoria of Head Type I has a rather weak chin! Although recognizing the three head types may be hard to do when starting out, after a time it becomes simple and automatic.

Let me note here, for the time being, that there are four categories of reprints of these stamps. First there were the government-facilitated private reprints, covering mostly the first half of the issues, the so-called "Berlin Reprints"(1875-1885) (a gray-area I hope I have cleared up now! See the discussion on Herr Goldner. ) Next there were the purely private reprints, the so-called "Leipzig Reprints"(1888) and then the "Hamburg Reprints"(1891-1895). The reprints from Berlin and Leipzig include Michel 1-12, and Berlin and Hamburg, but not Leipzig, reprint the Michel 17. Finally, there were the government-undertaken preservation of specimens covering mostly the latter half of the issues, the so-called "Official Reprints" (1890) of only 200 stamps per value. They will not be encountered in eBay stamp lots! They belong to the German Postal Museum except for those that were at one time stolen and eventually made their way into the stamp market. For more on reprints see the Reprint Tables

Available elsewhere on this site is the Heligoland study by Robert T. Pollard. It is invaluable to collectors who wish to identify originals and reprints. It is the most thorough study yet published in English and gives the ultra-violet examination results without which certain varieties and reprints cannot be identified with certainty.

Here are the Michel numbers for the reprints: 1 II , 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 8F, 9, 10, 11, 12, and 17. The others, 1 I , 13, 14, 15, 16, 18, 19, and 20, are only found as originals.


These tables and illustrations may be of assistance in classifying
stamps: 

Catalog Numbering for Michel, Scott et al.
Printings, Remainders and Scarcity
The Michel  6 Varieties
The Michel  8 Varieties
The Schilling Reprints
Table of Colors, Gum and Paper
Genuine and Imitation Paper
Color Comparison of Originals and Reprints
Reprints on Lemberger Pages

Maps of Heligoland       Heligoland Cancels
Postal History      Postal Rates
Reprint Data Tables    Forgeries
Lemberger and Michel Color Chips
Proofers' Signatures
Proofers: Names and Signature Placement
Higher Value Stamps
The Robert Pollard Study
The Wagner Collection


[ I have learned much in the years since the comments below were written. They show my knowledge at the time. There are also some needed comments added more recently.]
Michel 1

Michel 1 I (1867) OR Michel 1 II (1868)? This stamp only exists rouletted. There should be 10 roulette perforations (straight line stich-type) along the width and along the length. That means that when aligned with a philatelic perforation gauge, the spacing of the cutting marks aligns symetrically at the 10 perforations indicator, which means 10 perforations for every 20 millimeters of stamp. This is a very convenient measurement because it just so happens that the Heligoland stamps are all 20mm wide, give or take. Perforations on a rouletted stamp are harder to read than the "teeth" on the perforated stamps that took the place of roulettes. This one measures 10 as it should.

In Type I the upper inscription is 11 mm long and in Type II it is 11½ mm long. This is 11½ mm long. This says Type II. In Type I the centerpiece is usually slightly displaced due to the three stage printing process but in Type II it is well centered, as here, because they managed to do it in only two stages.

Is this the common Type I or the less common Type II? The knot is covered by the cancel but there does not appear to be the "Roman nose outline" found in Type I. (See the Mi 3 immediately below.) The neckline is closer to Type II than Type I.

There is supposed to be a faint margin crease. According to Hermann Schloss: "All genuine rouletted stamps MUST have a slight, thin crease parallel to one of the horizontal or vertical roulette, between the frame line and the roulette or the edge of the paper. In the process of rouletting the stamps, the sheets were held down on some soft base, causing the paper to crease slightly. THIS CREASE DOES NOT APPEAR ON ANY REPRINT OR COUNTERFEIT OF THE ROULETTED ISSUE AND THE CREASE HAS NEVER BEEN SUCCESSFULLY DUPLICATED ON THESE." There is no crease.

The paper should be thin and porous and the gum is yellowish and crackled in unused examples. This stamp is thin and the gum is yellowish and crackled. Whoa, Nellie! It still has its gum. But it is cancelled! Someone got careless! Forgot to wash off the gum!

The cancel is supposed to say "GEESTEMUENDE"and under that "ZOLLVEREIN" with the day, month, year and hour of the day in a third row beneath. This is a "box" cancel, or "Kastenstempel" of which there were three varieties of numerals. The "DE" is missing here and that raises questions for the expert. How will you fit a "DE" between the "N" and verticle end line of the box? Can't be done, can it? Please see the proofed Mi 6g with the box cancel below.

There was a period, if you can believe it, when Heligoland stamps were "cancelled to order" (CTO) for collectors with someone applying BACKDATED original cancels! That means someone stole, embezzeled, or bribed the use of a cancelling apparatus (More than one!). The cancelling apparatus is a handle with a stamping end in which there are revolving wheels or bands so that the hour,day, month and year can be changed as required. Obviously the post office keeps them very secure and manufacturers of cancelling devices are not going to make them up and sell them to private individuals to duplicate the appearance of government cancels. The forgers of cancels who did not have access to the original machines, made up rubber stamps that could produce only a single date. That is why you sometimes see cancels that all bear the same day of the month and hour of the day!

The most bothersome thing about this particular cancel is that it is identical to the cancel on Michel 2 and Michel 4 below, which are definitely forgeries. (It appears there has been some ink wiped off the face of the cancelstamp to provide some variation and fool the collector into thinking these stamps show varied dates.)



Michel 3 showing crease

Here is an image of a rouletted issue (proofed!) with the proper crease which can be seen along the left side and bottom. Note the "Roman nose" outline behind the chignon in this Type I issue. [No. I did not deface the stamp with white ink! That was done with the digital image in Paint Shop Pro.] Back down to the Michel 4.

Michel 2

Michel 2 (1867) this is not! The hair knot is a Type III (corkscrew) but only Michel 7 is a Type III. Reprint Data Tables OF MICHEL 2 ARE TYPE III. It is one of the helpful little facts to keep in mind. Instead this should be a Type I. So the cancelation must be a forgery and, presumably, all the other box cancels that are identical are also likely to be forgeries. Please note the damaged upper right corner. You must notice such things because dealers notice them!

Michel 3

Michel 3 (1867) appears to be all right. It appears to have the margin crease (see along the top). Unfortunately the cancellation stamp is like the others. Notice they all have the same hour of the day "2-1"! So why put a forged cancel on a genuine stamp? In 2002 values, Michel says the hinged unused stamp is worth $12.00 and the used stamp is worth $70.00. Stamp fraud is hard to prove and is rarely prosecuted.

Michel 4 Perf

Michel 4 (1867)? Sorry. The real Michel 4 is rouletted. This is perforated. It is a forgery. The cancel must also be a forgery therefore. I would say all the box cancels are forgeries, unfortunately. Compare this cancel to the one immediately below. Please note that the real cancel has a comparatively delicate "N in "GEESTEMUENDE"."

Michel 6
Mi 6e Proofed
Mi 6g Proofed

      Return to Kastenstempel text above.

(Please be aware that the questioned stamp is attached to a most unusual stamp album page. The page appears to be a color photocopy of the stamps themselves, showing even the shadows of the perforations. In the scans shown here, please note where the actual stamp perforations are above and separate from the photocopied stamp page perforations. At first I thought there were extra copies of the stamps underneath the stamps in question. Since the color photocopy image is identical to the actual stamps afixed to it, it includes images of non-existent issues, such as the perforated Mi 3 and 4! In other words, this stamp album page was designed to display forgeries and throws the whole collection into grave doubt.)

Michel 6

On the left is the questioned stamp. Below it in succession are two proofed stamps, Mi 6e and Mi 6g. There were eight printings of Michel 6. Six were on ordinary wove medium strong paper and two (g & h) were on quadrilled (mesh pattern) paper. "Mesh" means having the appearence of a fine screen. See the example. "Wove" does not mean patterned like a cloth weave, but merely mingled paper fibers. The stamp on the left appears to have the Type II head die as is required. This stamp is on ordinary paper as I recall. The gum should be yellowish colored in the original. This stamp has the colors of Leipzig Neudruck V (reprint) rather than matching one of the original printings. It might also be Berlin Neudruck IV.

It is difficult to count the perforations without having the stamp in hand. They should be 13½ across and 14¼ down. The Hamburg reprints are 14 by 14. The Berlin and Leipzig reprint perforations are correct but the the Berlin has large perforation holes so the teeth are sharp whereas the Leipzig has small perforation holes and the teeth are blunt, as here. Please note the two stamps on the right have sharp and relatively sharp perforations, respectively. I have now borrowed back the stamp. It is definitely has perforations measuring 14 X 14 and therefore a Hamburg reprint!

 [ Here is what I wrote before I got the stamp back for further examination. You can see how fragile can be the opinions of an amateur: "The stamp on the left seems to have at least one more horizontal perforation than the two proofed examples. On the basis of what I can see, I prefer to think of this as the Leipzig reprint at this time. I rely on Hermann Schloss here." ]

Also look at the box cancel. It is relatively sharp and readable. The true expertizers measure the cancellation ink impressions in fractions of a millimeter in order to distinguish the true from the false. On the other hand, my local stamp dealer, who has been in the business for 35 years, was able to pick up Heligolands and correctly distinguish true and forged cancels without specialized knowledge.

Note that the hair knot of the two proofed stamps on the right is hardly an obvious Type II! When stamp paper is to be embossed, it is first wetted. When it dries, it shrinks somewhat and there are many subtle variations from stamp to stamp.

Michel 3 Perf

Michel 3? This is not Michel 3 because Michel 3 is rouletted and this one is perforated. It is only a reprint. There are no other 2 Schilling values to lead to confusion. One expert seems to say that this is a forgery rather than a reprint because the perforations make it an invented stamp.

Michel 4 Michel 4 Proofed

Michel 4 (1867). On the left is an unsettled item. On the right is a proofed stamp. Note the faint crease along the top margin. It is not so clear as in the 2 Schilling above, but it is there. In an original of this issue, visible small light spots are visible in the inscription band around the oval. They are visible on the right, not the left. True colors are gray-green and lilac rose. In the Leipzig reprint the embossing of the centerpiece is weaker than in the original printings and it is sharply roulleted. That describes the stamp on the left rather well. Because the colors are wrong, I will call it a reprint. Which reprint is not so certain. Also, doesn't the stamp on the left seem a bit too tall?

The upper right corner is missing. Missing bits,"pulled perfs," tears, thins, star holes, stains, water damage and dirt all go into valuing a stamp. Missing gum reduces an unused stamp by half or more. A regummed stamp is a forgery, as is a repaired stamp. The value of a stamp depends on rarity and survival when other examples are lost.

Mi8 Mi 8c Proofed

Michel 8 (1873) unproofed on the left and Michel 8c proofed on the right The ¼,¾, and 1½ Shilling issues of 1873 were all printed on thick, quadrilled (mesh-pattern) paper, except for the 8c (never issued), which was printed on thin, random-wove paper. The Michel 8 on the left is obviously on thin paper. Is the cancel genuine? There can't be a genuine cancel on an unissued stamp (Mi 8c). Also, this is supposed to be an English cancel, Type I, but the English cancels give all four numerals of the year: it should read "1873." In fact it is a reprint. The perforations are 14 on the perforation gauge, measuring both width and height, meaning it is a Hamburg reprint. Always start with the perforation gauge and save yourself a lot of time and trouble.
For a graphic comparison of several ¼ Schilling originals, see the Michel 8 varieties. The reprints can also be compared to the originals here.



      
8f Michel 8f Proofed

Michel 8f on the left? Here is the famous ¼ Schilling error, or Fehldruck, in which the oval and the frame colors are reversed, making the frame green and the oval red. On the right is a proofed example. Unfortunately it is not too clear an image and I don't presently have the stamp at hand to do a physical comparison. Soon I hope. I borrowed back the stamp on the left and used a perforation gauge this time. It has the correct perforations of 13½ by 14¼.

This stamp seems to be printed on quadrilled (mesh pattern) paper. No reprints were ever run off on mesh pattern type. See Colors, Gum and Paper for the paper types used. This pretty much decides that the stamp is genuine. Or does it? It is sometimes hard to distinguish the crackly old gum from the pattern of quadrilled (mesh pattern) paper. This is probably only crackly old gum. Berlin reprints have deep pressed typography around the border. I have to hold off on this one for awhile until I have the genuine back in hand.

I thought the cancel was forged, i.e., applied after the fact. Is it? It appears to be a Type IV English round cancel, which was used only between April and July of 1885. The genuine stamp wasn't sold after 1873. According to Lemberger, there is no record of this cancel being used on the Michel 8f. Now the respective values of the hinged unused stamp and the cancelled stamp are $120 and $4500. There is motive aplenty to apply a cancel.

I bought this stamp and sent it to Karl-Heinz Schulz. His report: "Originalmarke, Stempel falsch." So there you have it!

A note on the colors. Unlike reds which remain unchanged over the years, Greens aren't too stable and tend to fade or shift. Neither stamp fits the Michel Color Guide paint chip for "Grün" which is what it is supposed to be. The questioned stamp is reproduced too brightly. I prettied it up too much in Photoshop.

The Staatsdruckerei ran 100,000 copies of the inverted quarter schilling and 25,000 were delivered to the post office on Heligoland. About 10,000 were sold over the counter and the remaining 15,000 were sold to Julius Goldner (See) of Hamburg, who is often referred to as a "stamp dealer," and he was this, but he was also the father of the Berlin, Leipzig and Hamburg reprints. To Herr Goldner, then, do we owe the fascination and complexity of this little corner of philately!



Michel 9
Michel 9.

The perforations are correct. It has a heavy gum back with much crackalure (crinkled old glue). This is correct for the originals and perhaps for the Berlin reprints. The Leipzig gum is smooth. I can't "read" the paper type because it is hidden by the heavy crackalure gum. The paper is supposed to be quadrilled (mesh pattern). No reprints are on mesh paper. (Umm. . . If the stamp is postally used, why is the gum still on the back? I should have caught that! So should the forger!)

The genuine stamp is supposed to be hellgrün and rosa with tone variations. This stamp does not come close. It is olivgrün or dunkelolivgrün. That might make it Berlin Neudruck II. [But see below!]

A complicating factor here is that Lemberger, in his discussion of reprint characteristics, uses color terms that are not quite the same as those now standardized in the Michel Color Guide. But See the new color terms comparison table. Is gray olive green the same as lively olive green? Looking at the red, it checks out as dunkellilarot or rotkarmin, depending on the hour of the day. If the greens and reds equate to gelbolivgrün and mattrosa, trübrosa and up to rosakarmin, it may be Berlin I. If, on the other hand, the red equates to stumpflilarosa, it may be Berlin II.

There are other possibilities, but I don't yet feel comfortable in this area of color equivalencies and fine gradations. I can say that the Hamburg reprints are too brownish in the red tones. I need to learn how to use ultra-violet light examination. That allows close colors to be distinguished.

Bought the stamp and sent it to K.H.Schulz. His report: "Originalmarke, Stempel falsch." So ... I thought the stamp was a reprint! I have a lot to learn.


Michel 10
Michel 10.

This is a Hamburg reprint, having 14 X 14 perforations. Bought and sent to K.H. Schulz. His report: "Hamburger Neudruck von 1891/95, Auflage C." He did not need to say that the cancel is false!



      
Michel 11

Michel 11? Yes. False Cancel as I suspected. Per K.H. Schulz.



      

Michel 12

Michel 12? Yes. It has now been expertized. But...the cancel is forged! Without any cancel at all the stamp would have been worth $11.00 hinged or $19.00 mint. Cancelled it is catalogued at $2000.00. With a false cancel, the stamp becomes a curiosity and has no catalog value. Sell to a collector of false cancels I suppose, if you can find one.



      

Michel 13

Michel 13? Yes. And the cancel is genuine: englischer Rundstempeltyp II. Per K.H. Schulz. But the paper is in bad condition ("Papierbeanstandungen")and there are "pulled perfs" or "Zahnfehler."



      

Michel 14

Michel 14? Yes. It was never reprinted. But which printing? And the cancel: is it genuine?



      

Michel 15

Michel 15? This stamp was not reprinted so it must be genuine.



      
Michel 16

Michel 16. This was not reprinted and should be genuine. The perforation count is correct.

NOTE: The following comment is no longer completely applicable and must considered with the new information at the end:
[The Dunkelkarmin shade makes this a 16b. One of the characteristics of the 16b is that the red color almost always overruns onto the embossed uncolored head. Like here.]

[According to Lemberger, This stamp was only issued in June and withdrawn in August of 1890. Of the twenty thousand pieces, almost 17,000 were sold to "a consortium" after Helgoland ceased issuing its own stamps.]

[There are no known examples of a Type III English cancel, which this is, being used on a 16b. (The most immediately obvious characteristic of the Type III cancel is the slightly obtuse angle of the rather long foot of the second "L" in "HELIGOLAND." The type III cancel was only used from August 1884 to April 1885. Since this stamp was issued in 1890, the cancel would have had to be backdated. Backdated cancels are easily recognized for the Type III cancel because of the deep (too deep) black cancel color. So this must be a "time-forgery" in which the no-longer-used real cancel apparatus was illegally applied to the genuine stamp.]

Bought the stamp and sent it to K.H. Schulz. Well, to start with, it is a 16a, Dunkelilakarmin, not a 16b, Dunkelkarmin. So the englischer Rundstempel Typ II is valid. Color identification can be most frustrating! And I thought I was Sherlock Holmes!

      
Michel 17
Michel 17

This one is easy to classify. It is a Hamburg reprint because the perforations are 14 x 14 like all Hamburg reprints, instead of 13½ X 14¼ as in all real perforated stamps (measure width by height). So the cancel is a forgery also. A real cancelled copy of this stamp would catalog at between $1300 and $1800. One can always assume a stamp like this is a reprint and work up from there. Less disappointment that way!

      
Michel 18

Michel 18.

The perforation count here is correct. There were never any reprintings of this stamp. (I don't know about pure forgeries.) There were, however, 8 printings from 1876 to 1890. The catalog value varies from $33 up to $180 for the cancelled version. [NOTE: The following remarks depend on correct color classification. Since my classification is wrong, the remarks are wrong. See the correction at the end.}

Checking the color with the Michel color guide indicates that this is rosakarmin , making this an 18b, cataloged at the highest value of $180.The green is dunkelgrün or close enough. As a last color check, the yellow is dunkelbraungelb but yellows are hard to read. It looks OK.

The stamp is worth more uncancelled so it is unlikely that someone would forge a cancel. But the cancel says 1878. This stamp wasn't issued until April of 1880! So what now? It must, by iron logic, be a false cancel—either a pure forgery or another "time-forgery". Criminals who engage in fraud show great audacity and sang-froid , but they don't always think things through!

[The only thing wrong with the foregoing is that this is an 18a not an 18b. Therefore it is proper for it to have a Type II cancel. I bought the stamp. Karl-Heinz Schulz examined it. The color is considered to be "Lilakarmin" and not "Rosakarmin" as I had decided. (And I consider myself pretty good at color identification!) For want of a nail, a horseshoe was lost, etc. He knows MUCH more about color than do I. He understudied with Hellmuth Lemberger for ten years! That is one reason he is the only living BPP certified Heligoland Prüfer in Germany. I don't believe anyone in the world today can compare with him.]

      

Catalog Numbering for Michel, Scott et al.
Printings, Remainders and Scarcity
The Michel  6 Varieties
The Michel  8 Varieties
The Schilling Reprints
Table of Colors, Gum and Paper
Genuine and Imitation Paper
Color Comparison of Originals and Reprints
Reprints on Lemberger Pages

Maps of Heligoland       Heligoland Cancels
Postal History      Postal Rates
Reprint Data Tables    Forgeries
Lemberger and Michel Color Chips
Proofers' Signatures
Proofers: Names and Signature Placement
Higher Value Stamps
The Robert Pollard Study
The Wagner Collection

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