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Sweden acts against facsimiles

Author: L. Harald Kjellstedt

The Swedish Society has entered on a campaign against the manufacture of so called "facsimilies" of obsolete stamps and has been successful in securing the aid of the Swedish Postal Department. As long as the "facsimilist" confined his operations to demonetized foreign issues and the imitation of cancelled specimens, the Swedish administration saw no reason for interference, but when the officials of the Swedish Society called the attention of the administration to facsimilies of the Swedish "20-thirty" error and showed that mail matter franked with these facsimilies had passed through the Swedish mails, the postal directorate took immediate action. In a letter to its President, the Swedish Society was notified that a communication bearing on the subject had been addressed to His Majesty the King. As this communication will have to be given a place in the history of the postal issues of Sweden it is worthy of translation.

"To the King :- In several countries as Italy, the Netherlands, Russia, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, etc., it is customary, when new postage stamps are issued, to take steps towards the withdrawing of older postage stamps issues. The procedure is generally to notify the public that the older postage stamps will only be accepted for a short time, after which they can no longer be used for the franking of mail matter. But in addition to this a somewhat liberal period is granted in which the public has right to exchange older stamps at the post offices for stamps of the new type having a corresponding value.

In Norway, by a law of June 11, 1906, it was decreed, that postage stamps of a certain kind could be demonetized by order of the King or by his authority. Consequently, a Royal resolution of January 25, 1908, ordered that postage stamps of the skilling values and the postage stamps having the portrait of King Oscar II should cease to have franking power after April 1, 1908.

As far as Sweden is concerned, no withdrawing or demonetizing of older, obsolete postage stamps has ever taken place. On the other hand it has been announced at the time of new issues, that postage stamps of obsolete issues were, and until further notice, would be accepted for the prepayment of postage. The result is that all postage stamps issued in Sweden since 1855, can still be used by the public for the franking of mail matter. Several different postage stamps series have been replaced by new types since the time mentioned. The first Swedish postage stamps, with the value in skilling banco, have not been issued since the summer of 1858. The following series of öre stamps of the so called coat of arms, and lion types (Scott's types A2, A3 and A4) ceased to be issued in 1872. From this year appeared postage stamps of the so called figure type (Scott's A5) which in 1891, the 10 öre value in 1885, were succeeded by stamps of new designs. To this must be added single stamp values of more temporary nature which have been issued on different occasions.

The Directorate does not consider favorably a continued franking power of all these stamps which have for long time been obsolete, and will humbly advance the following reasons for its opinion.

A number of the older Swedish postage stamps are considered very desirable by postage stamp collectors with the result that such stamps have been imitated by private parties. The General Postal Directorate has obtained information that a foreign firm manufactures and offers for sale imitations, facsimilies, of older, obsolete Swedish postage stamps. According to information received, such forged postage stamps have here been used for the franking of mail matter, and a forged postage stamp, which has received a post office cancellation, may, deceivingly, be represented as having been issued by the Post Department, and consequently prove of higher value to collectors than it otherwise would. As the forged postage stamps are skillfully made and easily confounded with the genuine, it is difficult, yes, nearly impossible for the post official to discover the forgery during the rush of his duties. The General Postal Directorate consequently considers it necessary, in order to prevent forgeries of older Swedish postage stamps from being in use in the mails, to recommend the demonetizing of all such old stamp issues." The balance of the Directorate's communication to the King describes minutely the designs of the types which it is recommended should be demonetized, and these are Scott's types Al, A2, stamps for the City of Stockholm, A4, A5, A6 and A8. It is recommended that the public be given time until the close of 1911 to exchange such stamps at the post offices for later stamps of corresponding value. The communication is dated Nov. 4, 1910, and is signed by the Director General and five members of the Directorate. There is no doubt of the King's consent to a decree conforming to the recommendations by the Postal Directorate.

The Director General further informed the Philatelic Society of Sweden that the Directorate had filed a protest with the Swiss postal administration against the manufacture and sale in Geneva of forgeries of the Swedish "20-thirty" error. The Swiss administration is requested to inform the Swedish administration as to what steps can and will be taken. According to the regulations of the International Postal Union, it is the duty of the postal administration of each participating country to prevent, within its own boundaries, forgeries of another country's current postage stamps from being made, and to take such matter in hand when called upon to do so by the administration concerned.

It is difficult to state at this time what action the Swiss government will be able to take, but if it leads to the stamping out of one of the most nefarious trades in the history of philately the Swedish society will justly deserve the thanks of stamp collectors the world over.

About the author: L. Harald Kjellstedt, Swedish philatelist and author of philatelic books
Atricle sourse: First published in: Mekeel's Weekly Stamp News Jan 21, 1911 Volume XXV, Number 3, Whole Issue Number 1047

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