Riverside Stamps

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Suspect Scott #461

The suspect #461 was indeed a fake. I was half right in my conclusion - right about the stamp being fake and wrong about why. This stamp must fall under the "very good" fake category, I thought for sure the perforations were good because they matched very well with #499 perfs. What can I learn from this?

  • Given two or more conclusions the simpler of the choices is probably right (Occams Razor).

  • I got sidetracked by the possibility of a fake watermark applied to a #499.

  • Did not think of the possibility of a color faded #409 being used to fake a #461.

I think that my original conclusion that the suspect stamp is no more than a #499 with paper defects that could be mis-interpreted as single line watermarks and thus be called a #461 is probably still correct . I only say that because the perforations and color match so well with a genuine #499. Does this mean I take umbrage with the experts at the A.P.S.? Maybe I do but I will respect their conclusion for the time being.

This is a pricy stamp - $150.00 catalog value and is faked a lot. This stamp can be made by adding perforations to a #409. According to Experts Book "This can be a difficult stamp to authenticate. Most fakes fall into one of two categories, very bad or very good.". 

More often than not the Scott #499 (Type I unwatermarked) is confused for a Scott #461 (Type I single line watermarked). The first thing to check would be if there is a watermark present or not.

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This image shows the suspect stamp soaking in watermark fluid. I've highlighted what I believe to be the watermarks in the lower right and upper left corner as well as a small thin spot on the left edge.

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This image shows the suspect stamp in my Signoscope watermark detector. The watermark in the lower right corner is evident but the one in the upper left corner is less distinct due to the presence of hinge residue.

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This image shows my cardboard template superimposed on the single line watermark diagram in the Experts Book.

 I did notice one problem area that gives me pause. There is a depression in the gum in the same area as the watermark in the lower right corner. The image to the right shows the suspect stamp angled under a strong light that highlights the depression in the gum. The depression is either a coincidence or it possibly represents an attempt to fake a watermark by embossing the stamp.

The other thing to consider is the possibility that this is a reperforated #409. The color of a #461 is pale carmine-red while the color of a #409 is carmine and while I'm at it the color of a #499 is rose.  To the left is an image of the suspect stamp (left) with a #499 (middle) and a #409 (right).  As you can see the color of the suspect is closer to the color of the #499 then the #409.


Below are four images that compare the perforations of the suspect on the left with the perforation of a #499 on the right. As you can see the perforations of the suspect match perfectly with the perforations of the #499

Click on the images below to see them in full size.

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The suspect stamp is on the left.

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The suspect stamp is on the left.

In conclusion: There are four possible outcomes -

  1. The suspect stamp is genuine.

  2. The suspect stamp is a #499 and the depression in the gum where the watermark shows up is a coincidence. 

  3. Is it possible that a faker took a #499 and tried to make a watermark in the correct place with the correct orientation knowing that the hinge remains in the upper left corner would make detecting the bottom of the "U" almost impossible? The one thing that gives me comfort is that the Experts Book does not mention faking a watermark on a #499 as a means to make a #461. 

  4. The suspect stamp is a #409 with fake perforations added to all four sides. I don't think this is possible because the color differences between the suspect stamp and a genuine #409.

I'm going to say that the suspect stamp is a #499 with a paper defect that resembles a watermark. 

I'll be sending this stamp out to the A.P.S. for expertizing and should expect it back by late September.

Reference material used: 

  • The Expert's Book. A practical guide to the authentication of United States stamps. By Paul W. Schmid.
  • How to Detect Damaged, Altered and Repaired Stamps. By Paul Schmid

As always comments and suggestions are always welcome.

To Contact Riverside

To Contact Riverside Stamps:
Mike Girard - Owner / Operator / Web Master: g1rardmn1099@comcast.net

I am a member of the American Philatelic Society

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