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British forgeries of Austrian stamps


Lubor Kunc


Majority of collectors has heard about propaganda forgeries of German and British stamps produced during WWII. Only few know, that ”tradition” of forgeries of stamps of enemy countries was founded in WWI. At that time forgeries of the Austrian definative stamps showing Imperial Crown and Emperor Charles I. were produced in Great Britain. The only difference in comparison to WWII forgeries is, that picture of the stamps have been not changed , but the producers tried to make them as much as possible similar to original stamps.

There are two stories describing production of the forgeries. First – the romantic one – believes, that the stamps were printed for British spies in the Monarchy, who should frank with them their secret messages. It is big question, if the spies would attract attention of third parties to their ”secret” messages by franking them with forged stamps. However the war was for Great Britain very heavy, it had for sure always enough money to pay costs of postage to their spies.

Second – military – story says, the forged stamps should not be originally used as forgeries, but as substitution for valid postage stamps in times of their lack. The British Supreme Command believed, the British troops will occupy Austrian territory, which will cause collapse in supply of the areas with food, different products as well as with postage stamps. That is why they decide to produce own stamps , which should be used on occupied territories as normal postage stamps. This story is supported by fact that the forged stamps were never found used, all catalogues register them as unused ones.

After end of WWI was a limited quantity of the forged stamps found by philatelists, who realized, the stamps are forgeries, but their first description was ”forgeries to defraud postal administration”. First the next searching said, that the stamps were not printed in an illegal printing house, but by official authorities, which was the last information being told.


There are forgeries of Austrian stamps 5 and 10 Hellers of the Imperial Crown issue (1916) and stamp 25 Hellers of Charles I. issue (1917). The last stamp is the most expensive one, its value amounts to hundreds of Michel Mark. The collectors trying to find the stamps in their collection can look for following differences in the stamps:

You should be careful by studying the stamps, especially if you decide about paper used. The original stamps (e.g. 10 Hellers one) were during WWI printed on thicker yellowish paper (so called ”War Paper”), so the decision about type of paper is not so easy for beginner. The original stamps printed on war paper were used also after establishing of Czechoslovakia.

You can see, it is always something interesting. I wish you success in searching for the forged stamps.

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