How You Can Idendify Them This worldwide list gives you the names and areas of specialisation of about 1 820³ individual stamp experts, past and present, who have back stamped or hand signed postage stamps, or issued certificates. Some 700 scans are included for the deciphering of stamp expert marks.
The purpose of this list of philatelic experts is to aid collectors in their judgment of the genuineness of postage stamps. The first modest version was compiled in 2000. For addresses of active specialists please check this page. STAMP EXPERTISING Editors of philatelic magazines started stamp expertizing in the 1860s, and in 1905 there were about 150¹ experts (G. Briefmarkenprüfer, Verbandsprüfer, Fr. experts en philatélie (experts philatéliques), Sp. experto filatelico, It. perito filatelico; see the Glossary) combating stamp forgeries. The study of marks (Germ. Prüfstempel, Sp. marquilla) as such can be interesting too. The heron mark of Prof. Seefeldner, on the right, was found on an Ukrainian stamp. British and American stamp experts usually work as members of committees (which issue certificates, Germ. Attest, Befund), and rarely sign stamps, but I still list some of the most well-known members. Unpopular markings: 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 soak through the stamp, and that is not acceptable. Nowadays BPP experts do not mark mint stamps, but issue a Kurzbefund or Befund instead. Photo of HFF’s hand stamps and impressions of HFF’s and FFF’s marking devices 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: Regarding the 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 name. 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 recent Bluem case (forged German expert marks and postmarks) is treated in detail here.