Many American and British collectors consider items with
certification marks "damaged". One reason why marks are disliked may be that the name
is totally unfamiliar, and thus useless. (Maybe this site can help
improve the reputation of experts.) Continental European
collectors find the advantages outweighing for moderately priced stamps, where a certificate
(image archive) would be a costly and
time-consuming excess but forgeries are frequently encountered.
Sometimes an expert has used a too big or heavy mark, or inappropriate ink
that soaks through the stamp and that is not acceptable. Nowadays BPP
experts do not mark mint stamps, but issue a Kurzbefund or Befund
Photo of HFF's hand stamps
and impressions of HFF's and FFF's marking
in the Helsinki Postal Museum (not used since the late 1950's).
Dealers' and owners' marks
Some expert names are more trusted than others. Certain hand stamps have
been abused or forged. An expert opinion can also change. The
dealers' name stamps may be either honoured marks of "guarantee" – in case a refund would be subsequently requested – or
plain advertisements. Marks of lesser known stamp dealers usually do not
inspire much confidence. Many old-time collectors, usually
respected specialists, stamped house-marks (frequently initials)
to their own items simply to establish ownership, and provenance.
A dealer might have wanted to furnish a money back guarantee even without
knowing for sure if the stamp was genuine. But a dealer or a collector
could work as a true (independent) expert too. A specialist collector
may be asked to authenticate items submitted by other persons. We
cannot always determine the original intention of the marking of a
stamp. Therefore all marks, including those of dealers and owners, are
registered here; if known and identified.
The position matters
important meaning of the position of present day (system compulsory since 1 Jan.
1973) BPP marks on genuine issued stamps, please see
this figure (from BPP Prüfordnung:
6. Signierung echter Prüfgegenstände), and
here for J.-F. Brun. This system reveals e.g.
overprints or cancellations added after expertisation. Its forerunner was
introduced in 1934 by Heinrich Köhler (Germania Berichte 8,
Sept. 1934). Dr. Dub used a position
system of his own for Saar stamps. Counterfeit items are always marked
Falsch with the expert's mark crossing, in the
centre of the
stamp, or, in the old days, just Falsch or similar, without the name.
Also introduced on 1 Jan. 1973 was the "BPP" suffix to the expert's
Marks have been forged
According to German reports in 1974 the following hand stamps had
been forged: Ing. Becker, Bothe BPP, Georg Bühler, Bühler BPP,
Georg Bühler BPP, 'Echt im Block geprüft Infla Berlin', 'Echt
Infla Berlin' (in circle), Gilbert, Lippschütz (two sizes), opitz,
Schlegel BPP, vossen; and c. 1960: Dr. Dubel, Dr. Düntsch,
Dr. Pfenninger, Pickenpack, Dr. Schroeder, Dr. Wallner.
View a scan of these marks. The Bluem case (forged
German expert marks and postmarks) is treated in detail
ABOUT THIS LIST
'Script' = marker imitating handwriting.
'Manuscript' = handwritten (longhand) signature by pencil
on forged' = mark is reported to have been found on
stamps too, but the persons in question may have been anything from
recognised philatelic experts to forgers. 'Forged' =
stamping device itself has been forged (for use on philatelic
forgeries), but it does exist as genuine too.
Use of names and scans
Please note that first (given or Christian) names and their
initials, as well as titles, have always been placed after the
surname regardless of how they appear on the mark. (Cf.
the list by
first names.) No
distinction has been made in the list between upper and lower case
letters in marks. Furthermore, full stops that may appear in
expertisation marks have been omitted. Behind the names that are hyperlinked
(more than 500) you can find scans of the experts'
marks or signatures. There are also some photos of experts, and
pictures of philatelic certificates.
Abbreviations of philatelic expert committees and organisations that
are frequently referred to in stamp auction catalogues have also been
included. You may use your web browser's Search or Find tool to search for the full name if only part of the letters are
readable in a certification mark.
I have also tried to give you some idea of when the person
was active as a philatelic expert. The years of his/her place of domicile
and membership in BPP etc. are only indicative and,
N.B., not the initial years, just the earliest ones
recorded by me, unless expressed as e.g. "1980–", with a
dash. (Only sporadic BPP membership rolls have been available.) A
mention of BPP or AIEP etc. does not mean that the person still
continues to be a member and invites submissions. At present
has 118 and
Behind the hyperlink 'Note' you can, in
some cases, find additional remarks regarding that stamp expert. If
some kind of hesitancy is expressed here, it is due to special circumstances. The
intention of any such comment, is solely to help collectors in their
judgment of the significance of a given philatelist's certificate
or mark on a
postage stamp in their possession. For most experts there will be
no such note because no unusual information is publicly known. No
responsibility can be accepted for omissions (including: of warnings)
or errors, and this applies to the whole site. All information is
based on sources deemed reliable. Additions and corrections from
readers will be paid due regard.
Obviously this register contains only part
of all the examination and owner's marks and expert signatures – many of
which are no longer to be identified – that you can find applied
to the back of stamps. Fancy² and
manuscript expertisation marks are difficult to describe, but
are included if identified. The same applies to one- or two-letter
initials, but there is always a risk of confusion here.
Unidentified stamp expert marks are very numerous.
This picture shows a few of them. Any assistance, as well as
new names and scans, is most welcome.
Bjørn Bakken, Janusz Berbeka, Dr. Thomas
Berger, Alan Blunt, Hans Bronstring, Dario Filjar, Marel Gerard, Lorenzo Gilardi,
Dr. Corrado Giusti, Prof. Dr. Ortwin Greis,
Sam Ginsburg, Dr. Wolfgang Hellrigl, Peter Hoffmann, W. A. King,
Prof. Dr. U. E. Klein, A. P. Lenos, Wilhelm van Loo,
Till Neumann, Christine Ney, Stefan Petriuk, Joh. Ulrich Schmitt and Prof. Dr.
Jovan Velickovic have given valuable help for the
improvement of this list by kindly supplying information.
TOS, notes, sources and revisions (will display in a second pop-up window).
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