Professional Stamp Experts
Introduction to How to Detect...

Rev. Philip de Rochambeau, MA, DD - April 14, 1999

As a service to Stamp Universe Readers, we will be reprinting many of the "How to Detect" chapters from Rev. de Rochambeau's popular book, "A Simple Guide to Detecting and Understanding Regummed, Reperforated, Altered, and Faked Stamps." Please note that all the material in these columns is copyrighted 1998, 1999, by Rev. de Rochambeau and cannot be duplicated or distributed in any manner without the written permission of the author. Those readers who desire to have the whole series in their reference library should go to for complete ordering information. Here is the first Chapter in our series.

In the year or so since the publication of "How to Regum Stamps-A Complete Manual," I have been besieged by both positive and negative criticism. It is interesting to note that whilst almost all of the positive remarks came from people who had read the book, the negative comments were almost universally from people who had not read the book.

For the most part, the negative feedback related concerns that my book would promote and encourage regumming as a means of defrauding innocent collectors and dealers. Naturally, those who had read the book realized that my book did just the opposite and responded with many positive comments. Nonetheless, what did emerge from the midst of all the controversy was the need for an easy, layperson's guide to detecting regummed, altered, and faked stamps.

Over the years, many serious philatelists have used two books authored by Paul W. Schmid, How to Detect Damaged, Altered, and Repaired Stamps and The Expert's Book: A Practical Guide to the Authentication of United States Stamps, as their primary sources for identifying altered and faked stamps. Paradoxically, these same two books have also been the "bibles" for some stamp restorers and forgers as they give very precise information on how to fake and alter stamps and what specialists look for when expertizing stamps. Indeed, it would be fair to say that some of the largest benefactors of these books may well be the forgers themselves, who use this precise information to perfect their alterations.

Of course, this fact brings up the whole paradox that any book on detection is bound also to be of immeasurable assistance to those who wish to alter. It is the reverse of this notion that leads to this book: namely, any book on alteration also is bound to be of immeasurable assistance to those who wish to detect.

Unfortunately, many philatelists have not understood either dimension of that paradox. So, it is in the spirit of making a clear statement as to the proper uses of this book that I have added many additional chapters dealing with the detection of altered and faked stamps.

Please understand, however, that this book is not intended as a scholarly guide to detection, but rather an easy-to-use, practical guide that will allow the average philatelist to detect the vast majority of altered and faked stamps with the least amount of equipment. Collectors who wish to put the time and expense into more expert knowledge are encouraged to read the aforementioned works of Paul W. Schmid. In addition, questionable stamps that are still not positively affirmed as altered or faked by the methods included herein should be sent to a respected expertizing service such as the American Philatelic Society's Expertizing Service (APEX) or the Vincent Graves Greene Foundation in Canada.

The best use of this book is to make preliminary inspections of questionable stamps, the vast majority of which have easily detectable alterations. By explaining the simplicity of restoring stamps, this book also brings home the point that it is not just the $500 stamps that are regummed or altered, but also the $50, and even $5, stamps that are often altered to deceive collectors. Thus, this book provides an invaluable service to philatelists who wish to self-expertise stamps that are too inexpensive to send in for (often-pricey) certificates.

The Reverend Doctor Philip Alexander de Rochambeau attended a Methodist seminary and holds a Master's Degree in Theological Studies and a Doctorate of Divinity. A stamp dealer for over 20 years, and a published writer for the last 25 years, presently, the Reverend is a frequent contributor to the editorial pages of the Salt Lake Tribune and the Daily Herald. He entered the stamp business at the age of 12 and remained a part-time or full-time dealer for the better part of 25 years, dealing in a wide range of stamps. Over the past 10 years, he has exposed numerous frauds in the philatelic industry. His last two books, "How to Regum Stamps," and "An Easy Guide to Regummed, Altered, and Faked Stamps," have greatly enhanced the hobby by exposing how stamp alteration is done, and how to easily detect these alterations. His latest philatelic book, "A Simple Guide to Detecting and Understanding Regummed, Reperforated, Altered, and Faked Stamps--Including an Insider's Account of the 'Organized Crime' of Philately," is available at:

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