Suspect Scott #355
Checking the watermark shows a reversed single line S in the upper right hand corner that reads horizontal. This eliminates the possibility of the suspect being from a booklet pane since booklet stamp watermarks read in the vertical direction.
The width of the suspect is 20.5 (+) mm at the top and 20.75 (+) at the bottom which is well off the ideal 21.5mm width but The Experts Book states that this coil was made by hand from strips of twenty and were at times considerably out of register. It is believed that some such pairs were hand trimmed in an attempt to even the cut edges. Therefore, the cut edges of genuine paste-up pairs can have a considerably wavy appearance at times, and they can measure considerably less than the ideal width of 21.5mm.
Soaking in watermark fluid also reveals that there is a plate number that reads 5441 and a small portion of an open star on the paste-up tab. Below is and image taken from the front that has been reversed horizontally to show the plate number.
The orientation of the paste-up is also important with the suspect being on top of the paste-up tab. A search of the Philatelic Foundation certificate database returned 383 issued certificates with ten paste-up pairs being certified as genuine none were determined to be fakes. All of the certified genuine paste-up pairs were orientated with the top stamp over the bottom stamp. I am of the opinion that any paste-up single, pair or multiple is a genuine coil and it comes down to the perforations being genuine or not. A #383V MNH paste-up pair has a catalogue value of $35 while a #385 MNH pair catalogues for $240 almost X7 the value so it would be well worth the effort of a faker to take a cheap #383V pair and add perforations to boost profit.
The suspects perforations are not parallel with each other which is not a surprise since two strips being glued together with perfectly parallel perforations is all but impossible. The images below show the suspect overlaid on an Instanta gauge.
As can be seen the top perfs gauge out to 11.985 while the bottom perfs gauge out to 11.97 which is off of the stated 11.93 gauge stated for this issue. This is a bit of a concern. The images below are perforations from a #405 block of four overlaid on the Instanta Gauge.
The four perforation samples taken from the #405 block gauge out as follows: 11.95, 11.97, 11.90, and 11.92. As can be seen there is a wide variation even in samples taken from a known genuine perf 12 issue for more on this please see my article on perforation tolerances.
The images below are the suspects perforations overlaid on the known genuine #405 perforations.
As can be seen they match up quite well.
In conclusion, I believe this is a genuine #385 paste-up single, MNH. The paste-up tab has plate #5441 plus a small portion of an open star. I told the client who sent this to me that this one is worth sending in for a proper check out.
Reference material used:
As always comments and suggestions are always welcome.
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