Fakes Forgeries Experts No11 / April 2008

st_fakes08_1_lThe cover of the magazine



By the term "proof we denote all the products that appear in the various stages of the creation of the stamp, from the artist's first drawing to the final printing of the stamp at the printing house.

So, for 1906 proofs, this is how it all came about:

To begin with, after the choice of the subject matter (in our case by Prof. J. Svoronos), follow the sketches of the graphic artist who undertakes to put the choices on paper (in our case E. Gillieron). Until the final stage the designs of this artist are also proofs (proofs of the work) of the artist (Figs. 1,2,3).


Fig.1 Hercules carrying the sky, while Atlas is bringing
the apples of Hesperides. Design by E. Gillieron.

Fig.2 Sketches by Gllieron.

Fig.3 Sketches by Gllieron in a more advanced state.

Following that, the engraver (in our case Mouchon) takes over and transfers the work of the former from paper to metal. Of course, he will make enough "stretches" so as to accomplish the desired shape, engraving, design, color, until the final acceptance. These stretches, "stretches by the engraver" are accepted as genuine proofs of the stamp.

They are usually printed individually, on common paper (thin or semi-hard, porous, etc.) or even in whole sheets of 50 or 100 stamps, especially for the choice of color, when the paper might be the same as the one used for the issue of the stamp. In the first case the proofs are called "matrix proofs", die proofs, and in the second case "plate proofs" (in our case Perkins-Bacon) (Fig. 4).


Fig.4 The 5 lepta Perkins - Bacon
final proof on a thin paper sheetlet 64 x 73 mm, the only one recorded.


We know that in the international Philatelic terminology the following characterizations of the essays have dominated:

Essays: Prototype works or printing of designs, drafts, not-approved designs, engraved or hand-carved designs by the artists involved in the whole procedure.

Proofs: the relevant printings of the final approved matrix of the stamp, but in other experimental colors until the choice of the final color. (Ref.1)

We must refer two special reprint cases

In the beginning of the article the principal quality that characterizes proofs, that is, the time of their production, was indirectly determined. The time of presentation of a proof precedes that of the printing of the stamp.

However, in the two Greek Olympic issues (1896, 1906) two cases of particular interest can be observed. In 1923, the French National Mint, because of the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris, printed the corresponding French stamps. Along with them they printed - obviously for reasons of "historic relation" and perhaps of printing parallelism - some values of the Greek Issue of 1896 (definitely of the 51,1 DRH, 2 DRH, perhaps also of some others) on big sheets, or blocks of 8,10 and 11 pieces placed on the surface of the sheet at random. These copies are surrounded by a decorative "burelage" ribbon, exactly similar to the corresponding block of the French Olympic issue and they are printed by the same matrix as the authentic stamps on cream, glossy, smooth paper. It seems that the matrices remained still in the F.N.M. These are characterized today as "proofs of the reprint" of 1923 (Fig. 7).

st_fakes08_06_lFig.5 1906 proofs, in a special presentation
as "samples of work" by Perkins - Bacon.

Something similar, but not quite the same, occurs in the issue of the "International Olympic Games of Athens 1906". Perkins - Bacon, in order to present to prospective clients their technical capabilities and samples of their work, created small volumes consisting of about ten sheets on thick double carton. Among them they placed stamps of the 1906 issue and in particular those that had already been printed on proofs. The stamps were printed unperforated on carton paper of various colors of the same shade as the stamp or on totally white and smooth paper (40 lepta), obviously in order to demonstrate the professional abilities of the Printing House (Fig.s 5,6).



Fig.6 Original proofs or "samples of work" of Perkins - Bacon? It depends on the fact:
Were the matrices delivered to the Ministry on time, or later? Or not at all?

Fig.7 1923. The reprint of 2 DRH/1896
in a special presentation sheetlet by the National French Printing House.

The stamps that were presented in this way are parts of greater sheets or blocks. The placement by Perkins -Bacon in those samples of work is done in such a way as the small-shaped appear in blocks of 3 x 3 = 9 stamps, while the corresponding large-shaped in blocks of 2 (width) x 3 (height) = 6 stamps, all in various colors. They are printed by the same matrices as the normal stamps, but maybe they are a "postdated creation" (as the similar of 1896, reprinted in 1923) (Fig.s 8, 9). I say maybe because there isn't till today an official confirmation about the fate of the printing matrices. On the contrary, J. D. Heath (Perkins - Bacon representative) in his speech to the R.P.S.L., 1915 (as survived in London Philatelist, Vol. XXIV, pages 192-199,210-217) doesn't clarify the issue, but leaves doubts. (Ref.2)

Now, if we take into consideration that all these items come from the same and authentic matrices, then two - at least - paths to research follow.

1st case: Assuming that the matrices were delivered to the Greek Government on time, as suggested by Perkins - Bacon. (Ref.3) If they were delivered along with the stamps, then these "samples of work" were printed earlier, or at least at the same time as the stamps, which makes them typical proofs.

2nd case: Assuming that the matrices were not delivered on time or that they remained for a certain period of time in the factory (before being delivered or destroyed). Then those items may later have been printed privately. In this case they are "work samples" of the Perkins - Bacon printing house used for demonstration to prospective clients.

But so far we do not know about the fate of the matrices: were they delivered, or not? Were they destroyed or not?

If yes, when and where? The lack of suitable information opens a wide field for research.

Therefore, although such objects are collected and presented in exhibitions, a correct description is necessary so as to avoid being in the expense of either the knowledge of the exhibitor, or of the exhibit.

Therefore, take courage and... keep looking. (Ref.4)


Just to avoid misunderstandings, I underline here that in my study "1906 THE OLYMPIC ISSUE" I did a full clarification about the name of J. P. Segg, supposed to be the 1906 issue printing house, our knowledge revised (FFE 9/2006), so once more I clarify that J. P. Segg wasn't the printing house for the 1906 Olympic issue, but just the mediating agent between the Hellenic Government and the Perkins - Bacon printing house.


1. Molfetas P., "The stages of the creation of the Stamp", catalog of the Philatelic Exhibition of the Municipality of Psychiko, p. 26, 1999.
2. My study "1906 - THE OLYMPIC ISSUE", Athens, June 2007, pp. 121-136.
3. Suggestion by Perkins - Bacon to deliver or destroy the plates. Philotelia 638 (page 176) "The matrices will be delivered to you with the fulfillment of the order, the plates and the printing cylinders will be destroyed and if asked, they will be delivered to you after their destruction".
4. Philotelia, 639 (page 250 par. 6) a lack of the relevant components of this issue such as matrices, cylinders, plates of the 1906 issue is mentioned, even in the R.P.S.L. record! Anyway, in page 252 there is a hand-written note "The matrices of the Greek Games were sent [...] see book for the sent"; but however the question still stands: were they sent? And when? This "when" could be a very useful information.


st_fakes08_11_lst_fakes08_10_lFig.8 Original proofs or "samples of work" of Perkins - Bacon?
It depends on the fact: Were the matrices delivered on time, or later? Or not at all?

Fig.9 Proofs. 2 DRH in orange.
Original and numerated Perkins - Bacon presentation forms.

Last Updated on Monday, 27 December 2010 10:19

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