Paul Montz of Stephen Album Rare Coins writes:
While researching a book project, I came upon the Volume 10, number 5 issue of The E-Sylum of February 4, 2007. There is an article in that issue that deals with the
substituting of stamps in encased postage. In the article, John J. Ford was quoted at the 1991 ANA Convention saying “Go ahead and buy these ‘rarities’ for an arm and a leg if you
want a complete denomination set, but don’t delude yourself; all the higher denominations are concoctions.” It is interesting to note that on the sale of his Encased Postage
collection in 2004 by Stack’s, all denominations were represented and there was no mention of “concoctions.” Just sayin’...
As someone who specialized in these, I can state that it is certainly possible to open one of the cases and replace it with a higher-denomination stamp. But it's also very
hard to reclose the case without leaving at least some evidence of tampering. As noted in the article I once purchased and then returned a 12-cent EPS after further inspection
gave me doubts.
Ford was quite knowledgeable and probably the world's expert on these; I learned some things from him. He would be very unlikely to be fooled. He also had at his disposal
the vast old-time encased postage collection of William Dunham. This gave him a solid reference for comparison against any new high-denomination pieces that came his way.
Originals are rare, it's true - but Ford owned many of them. So it's not necessarily inconsistent for him to say that most or all of the ones on the market at the time are
suspect; it's also fair to say that if any high-denomination pieces are genuine, they would be far more likely to reside in an old-time collection like Ford's.
To confirm my thoughts I reached out to Michael Hodder and Dave Bowers of Stack's Bowers, authors of the 1989 work The Standard Catalogue of Encased Postage Stamps.
Hodder catalogued the Ford sale for Stack's. -Editor
Dave Bowers writes:
[One] learning experience ... was an encased postage stamp of the rare 24-cent denomination. I purchased it from a dealer for what I thought was a very reasonable price.
I had never owned a 24-cent variety before, and this was very exciting. I hastened to offer it to John J. Ford, Jr., who often bought unusual things from me. John viewed it with
suspicion, and suggested that it was a fake. He went so far as to say that he would like to pry it open and examine the inside, and if it proved to be genuine he would buy it from
me at a profit. However, he was sure it was no good. The back and front were parted, and out came the stamp, which had the Scott catalog number written in pencil on the back!
Mike Hodder writes:
Yes, you're being fair to the hobby, which is the important part, and to Ford, which in this case is incidental. Ford's comments were intemperate but he often expressed
himself that way when he felt he was pressed. Remember, there was a controversy raging at the time about the issue of stamp substitution and he had taken a hard stand on one side
of it. It's always easy to kick a guy who can't kick back. Just sayin.
For illustration I've added an image of a 24-Cent Hunt & Nash piece from Early American Auctions. It is one of four known, with two others sold in the 2004 Ford sale.
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
ON SUBSTITUTING STAMPS IN ENCASED POSTAGE (https://www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v10n05a19.html)
Wayne Homren, Editor
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