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.