The fake “Grand Zero”

This piece of paper, a copy of the uncommon redrawing of the Bay of Djounie 50 Piastres stamp reissued in 1949 originally in dark red-orange (Michel n 425), is apparently absurd with blue print, but really it is not (fig 1).

fig 1 – On the right, the enlargements of some areas affected by the most evident faults of the fake cliché used (click to see)

It is actually a print proof to improve the realization of a dangerous photo-zincography fake of the redrawing 50 Piastres stamp. It was made in blue to better observe the defects of the basic cliché in order to identify and correct the wrong parts. In fact, in addition to the stain of color in the shape of a “V” under the sailboat, other imperfections are noted above all in the external linear frames and in the inscriptions below. But let’s go by order.

In the 60s, the general well-being and therefore the desire to invest looking for a quick financial return, focused on the world of philately, hobby held by a more or less wealthy social class. One of the most interesting and lucrative forms was that of the decks of 100 used stamps (fig 2), required by the market to prepare the famous envelopes with “one hundred different stamps” of which we have all been at least once buyers.

fig 2 – An example of a decks of 100 stamps

So I said of these decks, which system is cheaper and faster than to “produce directly itself” the used stamps, without going through the chain of work including the annoying neckline in the water of the stamps? This principle was the one that pushed a group of philatelic operators of Beirut, towards the end of the 60s, to the self-production of used stamps in order to place them in the market of the decks of 100 stamps and consequently in that of the envelopes with 100 or more different used stamps.

Returning to our 50 Piastres stamp that was the star of this production (yes! there are many other fakes, products at the same time with the same purpose), it was intended to compose valuable decks of 100 used stamp that served to whet the appetite of the buyers. We can therefore observe what was the final product (fig 3 and 4) and we must admit that it was very high quality, proportional to the professional skills of the producers (unfortunately today these “artists” have disappeared giving way to squalid individuals without every scruple and art, ready to sell their mothers too for some banknote).

fig 3 and fig 4 – Fakes 50 Piastres “Grand Zero” accompanied by their inseparable false cancellation of Beirut

Now let’s look at the few and substantial differences with the original (fig 5).

fig 5 – The original 50 Piastres “Grand Zero” stamp

The paper of the latter is whitish and compact, while in the false ones it is creamy with small flaws in the pasty composition. The printing of the original was made with the so-called “offset” system, i.e. with the reproduction of the original print left by the copper cylinder on a rubber cylinder and from this on the sheet of paper. The fake was produced with typographic printing of excellent workmanship. The color is almost similar except in the original is dark red-orange while in the fake is dark reddish-orange (scale translated by Michel Farbenfuhrer in German). The perforation is almost similar 11½ X 11¾ in the original, 11½ X 11½ in the fake, where there are also small differences in the diameter of some holes. Where to observe the most indicative differences? But as already mentioned! in the writing below: they are clear and regular in the originals, confused and irregular in the fakes (fig. 6). It remains to be added that you will never risk to meet this fake stamp in mint condition: they were all made “used” for the decks of 100 stamps, through a cancel of Beirut also fake.

fig 6 – The lower area of the stamp where the differences in printing are the most obvious

fig 7 – A scarce block of four

To conclude with a little cool in the mouth, here is a rare original block of four mint (fig 7) and the large multiple of this stamp that I know used on envelope

fig 8 – The cover with tree copies of 50 Piastres “Grand Zero” and a 12½P castle stamp (2½ Piastres are in excess)

made with a horizontal pair and a single stamp sent from Beirut on 8 June 1950 to fulfill the required rate of 160 Piastres for weight up to 30 grams to USA (fig 8).

Bernardo Longo


The fake Pan Arab block with black printing doubled

Lately on the Facebook page “THE ARABIAN PHILATELY” an American friend, has posted certainly for provocation, an image of a block issued by the Lebanese Post in 1957 for the second Pan Arab games with an “apparent” black print doubled. Nevertheless one of the two black prints is definitely added later, precisely the one higher up. I specify that for the block’s subjects was used the originals designs made for the four stamps values, two postage and two airmail, issued on 12 September 1957 (Michel).

Responding to the author of the post, I would like to point out that you do not make expert opinions via internet for the simple fact that it lacks direct view with “the piece in the hand”.

But returning back about our block, it is so trashy that even using only images posted on Facebook we are capable to demonstrate its fraudulent origin, even without considering the tonality of the black color and the possible traces of pressure exerted on the cardboard.


1) The block in question with the “apparent” black print doubled, one of which slightly rotated.


2) We start analysis from the cream-colored cardboard, which had to be actually part of a bigger sheet containing minimum four blocks separate later by cutting.



3) The result after the color prints of stamps through four steps in the printing press.


4) The black print design (this is a simulation performed by eliminating the stamps) of the four block, each distinguished by a letter because, each of the four compositions has its own characteristics, regarding the distances between the different parts of the composition (for example between the rings and the frames etc.).



5) The final fifth step of printing for the normal block.


6) The “extra” printing emoticon.


7) The result would have been obtained, simulating the passage’s lack of the figure 4.


8) The “extremely rare” result obtained after the “printing” of the figure 6.


9) Overlaying and rotating the top black printing and moving it down so as to overlap on the lower part of the two prints (green arrow), it is noted that in the top does not match and the additional printing added is highest of about one millimeter and a half, as shown by the red arrows.

The ways to obtain the fake “extra” black printing are limited to three:
a) the easiest is through the laser printer, by manipulating the black image and copying it. Inexpensive to produce but marketable only for very naive collectors.
b) production using the photocopier, by placing the paper in the machine and copying the press mold in black (difficult and expensive method since the cardboard of the block would tend to get stuck in the machine). Nevertheless the product obtained is characterized by the visible thickness of printing and by its color.
c) considering what it says post’s author in Facebook, the most credible used for our case was an old forgery black matrix, obtained with photo zinc-graphy. The image is “almost” equal to the original and the oversized defect is due to the fact that the black part of the design, excerpt by photographic reproduction, is not perfectly in scale 1:1 with the original, as already said producing a greatest difference of a millimeter and a half. Is a print typo process, by a zinc plate, a type of printing most common up to 1990s and is no longer used because of the high degree of pollution produced.

But at the last minute, as in a thrilling film, appearing elements which highlight other possibilities: two blocks, one normal and one with the black printing doubled.

By the colored arrows the result is now visible to all, especially for our dear friends in Facebook.

lente  Bernardo Longo

The fakes Emir Bachir blocks

About the sheets issued by the Lebanese Republic in 1942, better known as the Proclamation of Independence or Emir Bachir (Yvert and Michel n. 2/7, 200 printing) I wish to clarify the difference between the original and the fakes existing in the market.


fig 1 – The fake

In the original the paper is smooth and the color yellowish-white, while the fakes can be observed in grayish-white paper (fig 1). This fake is dangerous but you can locate it easily by observing magnified. In fact, in the original, the arabesque immediately above “Republica” in Arabic is clearly visible in the four values on the stamps with the Emir Bachir effigy (fig 2). In the fake, the arabesque is missing, or rather, there are only very light dashes confused.


Fake 1

fig 2 – The original

fig 3 – The fake


In the two air stamps the original have dots that define the design they are more or less dense but are seen on the whole extension of the stamp (fig 5). In the fakes, especially in the areas indicated by the red arrows, these dots do not exist (fig 6).



fig 4 – The fake


Originale 1


fig 5 – The original

fig 6 – The fake



I hope I have helped those who are about to purchase these rare blocks.

Samir Chad













Fake Egyptian cancel of Tripoli on 2 Piastres yellow

fig 1

fig 2


Fig 1

Fig 2

Fig 3

Lately I have been able to observe a fake cancel very interesting, imitating the postmark used by the Egyptian Post Office in Tripoli. In fact I did not know hitherto forgery postmarks imitating those that the Egyptian Postal Administration had distributed to offices opened in 1870 on the Syrian coast.
For those who have had the goodness to buy and read my modest catalog of “The Foreign Post Offices Cancels In Lebanon 1845-1914”, in the section dedicated to Egyptian offices, I affirmed that their period of operation was quite short: from late June 1870 to February 1872. The causes of their closure can be attributed respectively to the cost of the service too expensive, the competition with the most experienced postal administrations of Austria, France and Russia, and not least the pressure made by the Ottoman government which Egypt was nominally a vassal and to which was officially prohibited the prerogative of postal transport between locality of the Sublime Porte Empire. I do not hide that when I saw a stamp of 2 Piastres 1872 issue in the sales catalog of a famous auction house in Switzerland, I had a moment of “panic”, due to the fact that the date of postmark was 1876 (fig 1). This in open disagreement with what I wrote in the catalog. But through a more analysis …. I had a sigh of relief. Compared with a specimen of 5 Piastres 1872 issue, that the lamented Peter Smith had sold long ago (fig 2) and a 1 Piastre 1867 issue, found on the market (fig 3), I could observe the blatant differences between the two postmarks that are clearly visible even to the less experienced.
I really hope that the unwary buyer does not expose them in an exhibition, would lose many valuable points.


Observations on a fake airplane overprint on 15 Piastres air stamp

One of the biggest nightmares of Lebanese stamp collectors is the fakes overprints on stamps, both for errors and varieties, both for rare stamps. To begin I would like to indicate the parameters necessary for a proper analysis of the stamps. In many cases, the collectors take in great consideration the origin of their purchases “overprinted”. Is right thing but not decisive. We must instead abide by a objective analysis and not contemplative. To do this we must consider the color ink (1) and its degree of gloss (2), the physical characteristics of the symbols or typefaces used and their proportions throughout their placement.
In this article I examine precisely the overprint apposed on one of the most rare stamps issued by Lebanese Republic. This is the airplane “Blériot XI” (fig. a) affixed by mistake on 15/25 Piastres. This airplane was used by Jules Védrines for the air raid in November and December 1913, the France-Egypt with a stop in Beirut. The stamp in question is known by all collectors Lebanese as 36A (Yvert). The stamp has undergone three overprints: the first with the addition of bilingual “Republique Libanaise”, the second with the addition of bilingual new value “15 Piastres” and the third with our red airplane. It was issued in June 1929 in only 100 copies on two sheets of two panels of 25 specimens each. The color shades (3) used for the first two overprints is among pinkish red and vivid red, instead the airplane is red. The overprint surface resulting matte. The base stamp subject to falsification can be easily buy in the market for about ten euros, so needless to dwell on typefaces because falsification is obtained by addition of false airplane.

Lately was entrusted to me an exemplary that at first glance seemed genuine (fig. b).

fig a

(fig. a) The Blériot XI 


(fig. b) The fake

But a more thorough examination showed the elements that characterize it as fake. The color of the airplane showed almost similar to the original but not of the same hue. In the back was present the characteristic relief (fig. c) caused by the pressure of the overprint (that many “experts” consider the only index genuineness) and the position was the right one, but ……

fig c(fig. c)

fig d(fig. d) The fake airplane overprint

 fig e (fig. e) The original airplane overprint

 fig e1     (fig. f) The original

     fig f(fig. g) The fake

By a large magnification (fig. d) the edges of the airplane were inaccurate and jagged but what is even more important to the rear of the plane tubular structures are somewhat broken and incomplete, while in the original are well defined for this overprinted stamp (fig.e and f). As a final verification prior to archive as fake, I have observed the stamp in oblique natural light (fig. g), which resulted color ink shiny reflective rather than opaque, as in all original stamps issued (fig. h). So be careful.

fig g(fig. h) The original


1) The ink colorant is a preparation of variable consistency from liquid to pasty, comprising solutions coloring matter or suspensions of pigments in a dispersing fluid, with the feature of fixating on certain materials, such as paper by means of printing. Each ink has peculiar characteristics.

2) The brilliance (or brightness) of the color determines whether its surface is matte or glossy. The measuring instrument is the reflectometer which measures the specular reflection, namely the intensity of the reflected light within a small area, placing a light source at the angle of reflection.

3) The color range comes from “Color Guide” published by Michel. Essential for the determination of a color.