Bogus censors – beware!

Over a year since my last post here. Apologies.

Quite independently, two friends recently passed on images of unusual censor marks on Burma covers. Too unusual to be true, in fact. Which creates a good opportunity to post a warning here.

These aren’t new. Hundreds of different types are listed by Konrad Morenweiser in his useful booklet, British Asia Forged Censor Handstamps and Resealing Labels (Civil Censorship Study Group, 1997). As I understand it, all were created in India to add value to otherwise unappetising truckloads of chettiar covers that flooded the market. The reference collection was donated to the CCSG by Arun Agarwal, but only includes some 60% of the known fakes. Here are the two images that came my way:


A circular mark reading “BURMA S803/L PASSED” and an all-purpose triangle inscribed “PASSED FOR TRANSMISSION 30”, neither resembling known types. I can’t say that these are typical, but they give some idea of what to expect.

The lessons are: don’t automatically trust a censor mark that looks like an “unrecorded”; don’t automatically trust a censor mark on a chettiar cover; and certainly don’t trust one on a cover mailed outside wartime!


New Myanmar “surcharges” and first day covers – be cautious!

Recently three surcharged Myanmar “musical instrument” stamps have appeared for sale online, all overprinted with a hand stamp at K100.

A contact in Myanmar has enquired about these, and an official at MPS has confirmed that no surcharges have been authorised, and has confirmed that no township post office in Myanmar has used any such provisional overprints. No examples have been seen on cover, and no news of these stamps has come out of Myanmar. Also, it would seem very unlikely that any postal staff in Myanmar would create a surcharge that could be so easily copied by anyone. In short, they are completely bogus.

They are offered by just one eBay seller, based in Thailand, and are offered at high prices – 80 Euros for a pair, 2000 Euros for a full sheet. They are a purely private production, so if you are tempted to buy, be aware of their status.

The rest of this seller’s Myanmar stock is mostly modern stamps, many in full sheets. They are all genuine, except for just two other items which raise questions. These are first day covers for last year’s new “musical instrument” definitives, dated 27 July and 14 September. As noted in my last post here, the four values put on sale on 14 September at Yangon GPO were prematurely released, were withdrawn from sale after a few hours, and were put back on sale on the 19th. On 27 July a Myanmar-language first day cancellation was used. On 14 September most covers made by the few collectors on the spot used the black pictorial GPO cancellation, though a violet cancellation, in general use, was also applied to some.

The two covers offered by this seller both use a version of the violet cancellation, which was not used on 27 July. In addition, the cancellation is a slightly different size, and the date is too neat and in the wrong font. As it happens, this seller’s auction images of the covers are digital mock-ups, not scans of actual paper covers, so it appears that the cancellation used is a digitally created imitation, from which a rubber stamp has probably been made to use on the actual covers. In short, the stamps are real, but the cancellations are not. Be aware! Images of the digital and paper versions of the covers are shown here, along with two genuine examples for comparison.