The expertizing of flat plate coils requires careful examination of the perforation holes and the straight edges. This is because fake coils can be made by trimming perforated stamps or by adding fraudulent perforations to imperforate stamps.
Genuine coils exhibit certain characteristics with regards to the spacing of the perforations, the shape and size of the holes, and the appearance of the straight edges. Determining whether a flat plate coil stamp is genuine is not an easy task. It requires examination of the perforation holes using a perforation gauge and looking closely for holes that run off the spacing shown on the gauge. One must look very carefully because many fraudulent coil stamps closely approximate the correct gauge. It also requires comparison against known genuine examples to assess the size of the holes, as well as the examination of both sides of the stamp to see if the holes have been tampered with by scrapping. The holes for a genuine coil should have “pressure ridges” made by the original government perforating machine. Among other t
hings, expertizing flat plate coils also requires close examination of the straight edges to determine whether they exhibit the characteristics of genuine coils or were later cut by scissors, razors, or paper cutters.
Old certificates are not a guarantee that all coils are genuine. For example, some Scott Number 386 coil pairs and singles submitted to The Foundation in 1991 received certificates with a “genuine” opinion but are now known to have been faked. Recent studies and knowledge gained from additional reference material demonstrates that genuine examples of this coil stamp have perforation holes that are larger than many of the faked coils, though the fakes often gauge accurately at perf 12.
Most auction houses have a “five year rule” for certificates of authenticity. Under this rule, items with older certificates can be purchased “on extension,” which enables the buyer time to seek a new opinion and the right to be reimbursed for the purchase price (and frequently the cost of the expertizing certificate)
if the new opinion does not comport with the seller’s description. If you have flat plate coils in your collection or are considering the purchase of such stamps without recent certificates, it is important to have them expertized. One is also urged to check our Searchable Database to see if your particular acquisition has a newer certificate than the one delivered to you with the item. Protect your investments by being current with certificates. There is a large quantity of fraudulent coils circulating in the market place, so when an item looks too good to be true, certainly seek the opinion of a recognized expert. Faked cancels on coils will be a subject for another article.
Figure 1 – Scott #386 coil, PF Cert #526437, not a genuine coil
Figure 2 – Scott #385 coil, genuine coil (same series as Scott #386)
Figure 3 – Scott #351 coil, PF Cert #525401, not a genuine coil
Figure 4 – Scott #349 coil, genuine coil (same series as Scott #351)