The Five Cent Imperforate Stamp and Fakes

I am frequently amazed at the prices realized for small margined 5-cent Lincoln imperforate stamps on eBay (and probably stamp bourses and other auction venues). The stamp known by its Scott Catalog number 315 is frequently traded on eBay at what appears to be bargain prices (click here for current eBay auctions of 315). 315 side marginThe 2001 Scott price for an unused example (in very fine condition) is $290 and a used version is much more uncommon, commanding a price tag of $475. In fact, legitimate (read as certified) copies of the used stamp are quite scarce, the price in the Scott catalog reflects this by italicizing the price. Comparing the imperf to its perforated counterpart (Scott 304), an unused (previously hinged) stamp catalogs at $55 and used a mere $1.50. Philatelists collect the imperforated stamp either as an imperforate pairs or a single side/corner margined copy, thus guaranteeing authenticity. The perforate version does not exist in either of these states.

Unfortunately, over the past century forged copies of the imperforate are plenty. Some clearly created to swindle the stamp collector others contrived to fill the void in a stamp album (and not intended for resale). Either way, the fakes come to market.

I decided to dig through my stamps and covers to find a large margined copy of the perforated 5¢ stamp ready to digitally fake. 304 on coverThe digital fake could then be used to compare with other stamps encountered for sale online. If the margins of the stamp in question are smaller, it could have been faked. Ultimately I spotted a beauty in my collection, a huge margined stamp on cover to Warsaw, Poland. The stamp is an upper right corner margin copy with rather large margins around the perforated sides.

Scanning, digitally cropping the perforations, and adding a black background, I now have a superb (in my opinion) digital Scott 315. Is this stamp worth 475 bucks? Or even ten to twenty times a used perforated stamp (eBay rates)? I personally don't think so. It ultimately depends on what you are looking for genuine or space filler.

304 on cover zoom
Zoomed in version.
Click to enlarge.
cropped 304
Digitally cropped stamp.
Click to enlarge.