North Borneo Forgeries of the 1888-92 Arms issue

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Stamps of this issue were extensively forged by Rene Carame in Paris. The forgeries were the subject of a trial in London in 1909. The stamps were also forged by Francois Fournier. Both sets of stamps are well done and dangerous because they would pass as genuine except on careful examination. A third set of forgeries is crude and obvious at a glance because the back legs and tail of the lion consist of solid colour, and the general appearance is coarse and little detail is obvious. 

Genuine stamps
Genuine stamps were printed in sheets of 50 by lithography, on wove paper  which has a distinct pattern of rows of tiny dots when held to the light. The stamps are line perforated 14. Each value has a series of constant flaws, sometimes called secret marks, which can be used to identify genuine stamps (see The Stamps and Postal History of North Borneo, published by The Sarawak Specialists' Society  pages 124-125), and stamps can be individually plated because of the lithographic flaws on many of them.

Printer's waste
 Trial printings and waste sheets showing double, triple and inverted examples of these stamps were sold by the British North Borneo Company and they are often offered as rare and scarce varieties. They are interesting but they are not particularly rare and they are not listed in standard stamp catalogues. They are definitely not worth the high prices sometimes asked for them..

Imperforate stamps
Genuine stamps can be found imperforate and both mint and cancelled to order. Beware, most imperforate stamps are forgeries.

Many forgeries have been cancelled by black bars on the corner like the cancelled to order copies of the genuine stamps. Other cancellations include wider and heavier bars and a wide range of forged circular cancellations.

Identifying forgeries
1. Crude forgeries
Stamps which are not perforated 14 are forged
The tail and legs of the lion are solid colour rather than shaded.
The paper is yellowish. The printing is blurry and the colours are wrong
2. Fournier and Careme forgeries
These forgeries are well produced and quite deceptive. They appear to have used the same dies and Careme may have sold his printing equipment to Fournier.  Each value needs to be identified separately. In all values the paper and gum have a yellowish tinge and the stamps have a 'woolly' appearance.

½ Cent. There are two types, one type is easily identified by the top Chinese character which has an extra diagonal line joining the two horizontal strokes at the right. Both types have the left corner ornaments centred to the right inside their frames. The shading behind the ship is uneven. N of NORTH is a little too upright. The small dot to the left of N in the white band above is longer and thicker than in the genuine.

1 Cent. The lion has a noticeable bare patch just in front of the back legs. There is no rope from mast to bowsprit. The lower left corner ornament is centred to the left inside its frame. The dots behind the lion are generally indistinct.

2 Cents. The small sail touches the mainsail almost at the tip of the main- sail. The left lower corner ornament is centred left inside its frame. The 2 is too close to its upper frameline.

3 Cents. The POSTAGE & REVENUE scroll touches the frame below at the right. Left corner ornaments are centred to the right inside their frames. C of CENTS is taller than it is wide. No rope from mast to bowsprit.

4 Cents. The rope for the left of the small sail touches the deck at its top right corner instead of ¾ mm. further to the left. One thick curved rope from the deck to the centre of the mast instead of two converging ropes.

5 Cents. The tail of 5 does not extend past its upright stroke. The back- ground to the ship is coarse. The lion's head is flattened giving it the appearance of having had a flat 'crewcut'.In the crude type the 5 is much thicker. Much darker colour.

6 Cents. The left side of the small sail is straight instead of curved. The ropes from the deck are almost parallel and do not touch the mast. The mainsail touches the small sail at its very tip.

8 Cents. The background colour of the POSTAGE & REVENUE scroll touches the right outside frame. The N of NORTH is wider at the bottom than the top. The left-hand corner ornaments are centred to the left inside their frames. The rope from mast to bowsprit is uneven, thick and distorted. The lion's upraised paw almost touches the frame above. The constant flaw, coloured dot in the SE corner of the Chinese tablet, is missing.

10 Cents. The constant flaw, coloured dot above TH of NORTH, is missing. Two types apparent in 10. In one the 10 is very thin with the 0 uneven. In the other the 10 is a little thinner than the genuine but is a fairly good imitation. In both types the letters of CENTS vary in thickness. The lines behind the ship are uneven. The colour is too grey.
Examples of forged stamps
Fournier / Careme forgeries
The following illustration shows Fournier forgeries, including both the original ½c at the right and the corrected ½c at the left

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Genuine stamps
The following illustration shows genuine stamps
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The Multiperf forgeries
These stamps were first identified in 1922. They come in various perforations ranging from 11 to 14 as well as imperf. They are easily identified by the back legs and tail  of the lion which is solid colour rather instead of lines of shading.
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