These are the “Commerce” type of the French Colonies, perf. 14 x 13 1/2, surcharged BENIN, in sans-serif capitals. The genuine stamps are scarce, and the forgeries are decidedly dangerous.
The surcharge is printed in shiny ink. My specimens, furnished by my publishers, have all been examined and passed by experts in Paris, so I conclude there is no doubt about them; but, singularly, the surcharges are not all alike, varying from 3 mm. to over 3 1/4 mm. in height, and from 14 3/4 mm. to 15 mm. in length. Usually, the letters are not broken anywhere, but I have one specimen with the left lower corner of the B broken, and another with a break in the center of the bottom of the B. There is a space of exactly 1 mm. between the last two letters, IN. In several of my specimens, the right top corner of the last N is bent inwards very slightly, as though the type had had a knock. The lettering is so dark and prominent that it catches the eye at once.
The surcharge appears to be lithographed, and the ink is very dull and spotty. It is exactly alike in all the numerous specimens in my possession, i.e., fully mm. high and 15 mm. long. There is always a very distinct break in the centre of the bottom of the B; another near the top of the first stroke of the first N; and another about three parts of the way up the I. The space between the letters IN measures nearly 11 mm. On many of the stamps, the surcharge is so faint that it would hardly be noticed under the postmark, unless specially looked for. All my specimens are postmarked. These forgeries were made by M. Battifort, of Marseilles.
Genuine.—Like 29, but the hyphens composing the inner circle are shorter. The outer circle is fairly thick.
I have “GRAND POPO BENIN,” “PORTO NOVO BENIN,” “CORRESPONDENCE” . . . (unreadable) “PORTO NOVO,” “(BI)IDAH BENIN,” and one specimen is marked “AG . . . BENIN,”. This latter postmark has a five-pointed star before (and after?) the name; but all the others have nothing whatever to separate the words.
Forged.—Similar to the genuine postmarks, but the outline is thinner.
The same surcharge as for the issue just described, with the addition of 01 in red, on the 5c.; 40 on the 15c.; 75 on the 15c.; and 75 in black, on the 15 c.
I have only seen the 75 in red and in black, on the 15c., but probably the other varieties exist. As the BENIN surcharge is just the same as in the first issue, I need not further describe them.
Genuine.—Same as in the first issue. Forged.—Same as in the forgeries of the first issue.
Issues of 1892 and 1894.
The genuine stamps have been offered in great abundance, with forged postmarks. The forged cancellations are the same as on the issues already described. Readers will please reject any with the Maltese cross before and after the name. For a fuller account of these forged postmarks see French Colonies.
From: ‘Album Weeds’, 3rd edition by R. B. Eareé. 1906