Sorry, this neat looking invert is a fake. All too often we have to break the news to long-time, confident collectors that their prized stamps have been faked. This nifty little invert was probably contrived by a collector with a sense of humor and no ill intentions. Notice how the cancellation covers the frame and the inverted vignette? Whoever created this oddity took quite a bit of time to make it look this good. A gullible collector might be talked into buying this clever invert as a modern rarity: after all, how could the cancellation lines match so well if it was a fake?
The best way to avoid being taken on an oddity like this is to know your stamps. A basic knowledge of how a stamp is printed will help you here: an inverted vignette like this is technically impossible because the stamp was printed in one color. Monochrome stamps, like this one, only went through the printing press once: there is no chance for an inverted center because all the elements of the design were printed with the same press stroke. Inverted vignettes or frames can only happen when a stamp is passed through the printing press two or more times. Bi-color stamps, such as the famous inverted Jenny airplane, are passed through the press at least twice: once for each color. It is during this second pass through the press that the possibility of an invert exists: inverts are created when a partially printed sheet of stamps is fed into the press with the wrong orientation.
Not all fake stamps are as easy to detect as this one. Certainly not all of them were created with as much humor; many exist only to defraud unsuspecting collectors. As one of the world's leading philatelic dealers, we pride ourselves in being able to weed out fraudulent and "doctored" stamps. Our customers expect the material they receive from us to be exactly what we describe it to be. We make every effort to meet this expectation. When you buy from us, your satisfaction is guaranteed. We promise to send you just what you ordered! (Hey, it's our web site, we're entitled to at least one plug ;-)
We've dedicated this part of our web site to showing you how to sniff out those dubious stamps that so many people buy and sell simply because they don't know how to identify the problems. Check back often, we'll add galleries as we come across examples that you should see. The more you know, the safer your collection will be!
Feel free to email us with any questions, comments, or ideas for future articles you may have -- enjoy!