Franklin-Washington - Beyond Identification: Coils and Fakes - The Perforations

edited April 19 in Stamp Reviews 4 LikesVote Down
It's been a while since my last installment of the Franklin-Washington fake detections.
When last we left you, we were examining coils, and how they may be faked.

As I've previously mentioned, the existence of imperf coils in the flat plate printings make it very tempting (and easy) for fraudsters to make very convincing fake coils.

Steven Unkrich reminded me that during my "perforation gauge" tutorial, I didn't mention the area on the specialty gauge for bureau prints (of which the FW's are). So let me cover this point first. Perforations are noted with two values: first, the perforation (the number of holes present in a 20mm space) and the second the space between the holes in thousands of an inch. Also, there are several versions, and there are some known issues with the gauge, so ensure that you're using either the original Kiusalas metal gauge, or Sonic Imagery Labs Revision 5.1 gauge.

A strong sign of a fraudulently perforated stamps are those that don't match precisely the perforation gauge. This is a list of Gauge by Scott #:
Gauge 12-66:
331 - 342, 348 - 356, 357 - 366, 374 - 382, 385 - 389, 405 - 407, 414 - 423
Gauge 12-66 x 10-79
423A - 423C
10-79 x 12-66
423D, 423E
461, 498 - 519, 525 - 530, 545 - 546
11-72 x 10-80
538 - 541
11-72 or 11-73 at top or bottom or both x 11-72
11-72 x 10-80 (Left Side Only)
424 - 447, 460, 462 - 478
448 - 458, 486 - 497, 543
10-80 x 11-73
410 - 413

Specialty Gauge

To understand how to identify fake perfs is to understand how perforations are actually applied.

Perforations on coil stamps were still passed through the same type of perforation machine as sheet stamps. In fact, the coil sides (as mentioned in the "Flat Sides" article) were cut apart in the same machines that perforate, where the perforation wheels are replaced by cutting wheels.

Perforation Machine

The image above is an example of a perforation machine. Note that the wheel has a pin, and the cylinder has a corresponding perforation hole. The pin presses the paper through the hole, tearing it away a the point of movement. This is what causes the elongation and the perforation fibers left within the perf hole. You may find that sometimes the perf holes for one or two holes on the stamp do not align, or are missing (blind perf). This is the result of a bent pin (or pin missing entirely in the case of a blind perf). It's not specifically an indication of fraudulently applied perforation. However if the entire set of perforations is jagged, it has likely either been fraudulently perforated, or has been reperforated to appear as a different perforation (i.e. perf 10 instead of perf 11).

The image below illustrates such perforation pattern.

410 Pair Perf Arrows

The arrows in the image above point out the fibers from where the perforation wheel puts pressure on the paper while it is turning.
Note that the jagged perforations on the open ends of this pair are the result of being cut from a role using a desktop type stamp dispenser, similar to this:

Desktop Dispenser

Fraudulent perforations do not have this motion. And to understand that better, here is an example of the type of device used to add fraudulent perforations:


Note that these types of devices apply pressure to the paper equally/evenly. As a result there is no visibility of motion within the perforation.

349 Fake LP

Looking at the perfs of this example (Fake 349 made from a 344V), notice how perfectly rounded they are. This is not possible from a perforation machine.

These examples are "easier" to see this effect in. Working with singles is much tougher.

As always, if you don't have our Franklin-Washington ID Matrix, please feel free to email me at and I'll send you a copy. It does require MS Excel to work.


  • 1 Comment sorted by Votes Date Added
  • Just a minor update, the SCOTT #s 390-396 should also be listed in the Precision Gauge list, should be included in 8.5-95.

    Sorry about the oversight.
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