As the beginner collector matures from intermediate hobbyist to serious philatelist the desire to add to one’s collection and to verify and authenticate those additions becomes of greater importance. When collecting in areas of the hobby where forgeries and forgers are known to abound these additions can challenge even the most knowledgeable philatelist. One of these areas of collecting that has seen a proliferation of forged issues is that of Germany and German States and Colonies.
For the more common forgeries of this material, worldwide guides such as The Serrane Guide, the numerous volumes of Album Weeds and the Linn’s Focus on Forgeries compilations can provide some preliminary insight and assistance with the identification of the more common forged issues. But for more detailed information regarding all of the known forgeries of German and German-related material, especially for the latter, a more specialized handbook is often required. Undoubtedly the most comprehensive and respected reference source that accomplishes this task for philatelists is the Reference Manual of Forgeries published by the Germany Philatelic Society, more commonly known as the GPS Reference Manual of Forgeries.
Released as 46 continuing sections with its first release in September 1975 and its most recent in November 2000, the manual is the product of GPS member Dr. Werner M. Bohne and his painstaking work to illustrate and list each known stamp forgery as well as in many cases fraudulent cancellations associated with those issues. Compiled into fifteen volumes the manual contains detailed forgery information as follows: Volume 1 – German States (Baden – Bergedorf; Volume 2 – German States (Bremen – Hanover); Volume 3 – German States (Heligoland – North German Postal District); Volume 4 – German States (Oldenburg – Wurttemberg); Volume 5 – Germany (1871 – 1945); Volume 6 – Germany (Allied Occupation); Volume 7 – Federal Republic of Germany (Berlin); Volume 8 – Germany (Soviet Zone); Volume 9 – Germany (Local Issues 1945-1946); Volume 10 – German Post Offices Abroad; Volume 11 – German Occupation (1914-1918); Volume 12 – Danzig, Memel, Saar, Sudetenland; Volume 13 – German Occupation (1939 – 1945 Adria – France); Volume 14 – German Occupation (1939 – 1945 Poland / General Government); and finally, Volume 15 – German Military Issues (1942 – 1945).
All of the listings include enlarged black and white illustrations (later additions included color images) of both genuine and forged issues. Included beneath both illustrations are itemized lists of the distinguishing characteristics for both the genuine and fraudulent items. The manual uses Michel numbers for easy identification for the German collector. In his introduction Dr. Bohner states that his intentions were “to simplify the identification of fraudulent material, all information such as date of issue, printing quantity, etc. has been eliminated. The Manual is not a substitute for expertization, but is intended to make the collector aware of existing forgeries.”
Even without production information the GPS Manual of Forgeries is an excellent resource for the collector of Germany and German Colonies and States, assisting the collector with the identification and discovery of all known forgeries, providing information for both genuine and forged issues as well as fraudulent cancellations. The manual is housed in the Closed Stacks area of the APRL and can used either at the library or copies of pages can be requested by contacting the library.