Suspect Scott #123
I got this stamp in an auction box lot, at a quick glance it looks like a Scott #112 but a closer examination of the back does not show the usual strong grill pattern seen in this series of stamp. After looking at the stamp in the usual manner I decided that there was the barest of a grill showing when the stamp dries after being dipped in water mark fluid but there was no way of documenting it. I also thought of the possibility that this stamp is a Scott #123 - the grill-less issue of 1875 but putting it up for sale on eBay as a #123 without a certificate would be madness so I decided to put it on eBay as a #112 with a pressed grill that was barely visible. That turned out to be a bad idea as well. The gentleman that bought the stamp felt that I had sold him a fake #112 because there was no grill - go figure. I explained to the gentleman that the stamp probably had a pressed grill only because the #123 is rarer then hens teeth (10,00 issued) but for all I knew he could be lucky enough to have a #123 and all he needed to do was to have the stamp expertized. He brushed aside my explanation, demanded and got his money back.
So I figured "here's my chance to do a right proper analysis of this stamp". What follows is my attempt to determine for sure if this is a #112 with a pressed grill or a #123.
Fig 1 shows four stamps in natural light and Fig 2 shows the same four stamps with the gamma reduced. Going from left to right, top to bottom they are the suspect stamp, a #112, a #113 that was expertized as having a pressed grill and a #88 'E' grill. As one can see the #112 in the upper right and the #88 both have prominent grills. The grill on the #113, though pressed is still faintly visible just above the horizontal brown band. The suspect stamp in the upper left corner shows no sign of any grill.
Fig 3, 4, 5 and 6 shows the same four stamps in the same order as in Fig 1 in my Signoscope watermark detector. This detector makes density changes in a stamps paper show up. The second and last stamp clearly shows the grill patterns and the second stamp has a fair amount of hinge residue. The #113 (second row, first stamp) shows the faint outline of the grill in the middle of the stamp. The suspect stamp (first row, first stamp) does not show any sign of a grill.
The next thing I did was dip the suspect stamp and the #113 in watermark fluid to see if any grills can be spotted. As seen in Fig. 7 and 8 the results were less than expected. The grill on the #113 is barely visible while the suspect stamp again shows no signs of ever being grilled.
Lastly I noticed that the pen cancel looked like it had soaked into the paper at a different rate in spots. My Precision U.S. Specialty Multi-Gauge has a Go-NoGo grill size gauge for the 'G' Grill that is impressed on this issue. Fig. 9 and 10 show a close up of the pen cancel as well as the grill gauge super imposed over the pen cancel. As one can see there are four spots on the pen cancel that match up perfectly with the grill gauge. I doubt very much that this could happen naturally in ungrilled stamp paper.
In conclusion I can say with confidence that the suspect stamp is in fact a Scott #112 with the grill pressed flat. If it were not for the pen cancel giving away the presence of a grill I would have been very tempted to call the stamp a #123 and I would have bet that it would have fooled an expertizer at the A.P.S. or the P.S.E. Reference material used: Sonic Imagery Labs Precision U.S. Specialty Multi-Gauge.
As always comments and suggestions are always welcome.
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