Forged Stamps of Hawaii

“The Spud Papers”

by Atlee, Pemberton & Earée

1853. King Kamehameha III

5 Cents. Blue


The forgery annexed will be found a sufficiently near imitation to puzzle tyros considerably. It is, however, too coarse in appearance and in the execution of the face to be a dangerous forgery to any one who knows the originals. If we refer to the forgery annexed, we shall observe that the value is in very large letters, that the arched white line under POSTAGE is very thick, and its edges are ragged; that the crossed lines of the background are defective under this arched white line on the left-hand side, leaving a slight white mark there (but this is not so clear on “slurred” specimens of this forgery); that the inner line running downwards on the left-hand side (under HONOLULU) has been thickened in its lower part, i.e., from the epaulette downwards; on the right side, the inner line running downwards (under HAWAIIAN 1s) is broken off under the H of HAWAIIAN, and does not appear lower down, causing the edge of the background to bulge slightly outwards under that word, and to be ragged and unequal from the epaulette downwards; the hair of the king’s head has too much white in it. The opposite of all these points characterizes the genuine stamp, which is very beautifully engraved, though somewhat coarser in details than we are now accustomed to observe in stamps engraved upon steel. There is one point which we have never seen imitated by forgeries, and that is, in the genuine stamp in the label containing the value at base, there are two minute marks proceeding from the upper line forming the edge of that label; they occur, to the left, over the F and I, to the right, over and between the T and S.

These two marks are the remnants of the two vertical lines which occur on the same label in the 13 c. of this issue. The 13 c. was the first engraved, and the same die was used to print the 5 c. In making the alterations requisite, these two lines were not taken “clean” out, but the two points or marks were left, and to these we now call attention.

1853 King Kamehameha III

12 Cents. Red


The principal discrepancies that strike us in this forgery are, there is too much white in the king’s hair, and the face is too roughly shaded. On the genuine stamp we may, as in the 5 cents previously described, find a trifling point which no forgery known to us has imitated. It is this, that the right-hand outer line of the frame is composed of two fine lines, instead of one. Again, the 5 CENTS in the left-hand label should have a dot after. As will be seen, this forgery omits it, and the lower halves of all the figures 3 should be larger and bolder than the upper halves, a point in which the forgery again fails.

1862. Elua Keneta

2 Cents. Red


From the fact of the original of this forgery being a poorly engraved stamp, (said to be a lithograph) the specimen annexed is somewhat more dangerous than the previous or the succeeding forgeries. however, be at once detected by the absence of the dot after KENETA; but as it would not take the makers a minute to add this, we may further remark, that It may, the figure 2 in each upper angle should be in the center, and not so near to the right side as to all but touch. In the value below ELUA KENETA the forgery makes the center strokes of all the letters E too bold, as they are quite immature and very thin in the genuine: the color, too, is never so red in the genuine. We may here recall to our readers that there are two distinct issues of this 2 C, the first (the only one we have ever seen postmarked) being a poorly engraved stamp (said to be lithographed) on laid paper; the other—only known to us unused or marked “Specimen”—being precisely the same in every detail, but clearly engraved from a steel die, on yellowish wove paper.


2 Cents, vermilion & 5 Cents, blue

These forgeries are both much too coarse in their execution, although cleverly done so far as their inferior execution can imitate the superb engraving (on steel) of the originals. In each forgery the background can be clearly traced, crossed lines in the 2 C., horizontal lines in the 5 C., whilst the originals are so finely drawn that the backgrounds are difficult to decide about at first sight. The vertical lines in the labels containing inscriptions are very coarse in
the forgeries herewith; but in the genuine stamps the lines are so fine (especially in the upper labels) that it is difficult to trace them without a magnifying glass. The paper upon which all these five forgeries are printed is very common and white; and the cancellation is one we never saw anything like, except upon the earliest issued Chileans, and some Canadians and United States.

Princess Victoria Kamamalu

1 Cent. Mauve



Engraved on creamy-white wove paper, perf. 12. This stamp (like the two others described below) is very beautifully engraved in taille-douce. Backed with dark brown gum. The oval round the head is perfect in till parts. The figures in the bottom corners are nearer to the bottom than to the top of the containing circles. The lettering is in that peculiar thick type favored by the American engravers, as in the latest Newfoundlands. The H and 1 of AKAHI touch each other at top and bottom, and the I of AKAHI and the K of KENETA are separated by a dark space of background which, in consequence of the curved shape of the letters, forms an exact circle. The Princess’s eyes are well open, and there is a light on the pupils. The nose is broad, but well drawn. The lips are not very full.


Coarsely lithographed, on very white paper, perf. 13. No gum. The oval round the head is not continuous, but it is divided, and the two ends overlap under the word Hawaii, one end forming the bottom of the name-label. This is a very curious mistake, and has arisen from the forger failing to see the very fine line which forms the bottom of the name-label in the original. The figures in the bottom corners are much nearer to the top than to the bottom of the containing circles. The lettering is thin and meager, and too straight. The h and i are not near each other. The I and K are very far apart, so that the space between them is a transverse oval instead of a circle. The left eye is half shut, or, at least, not so wide open as the right; and the pupils are dark, without-any light in them. The nose is absurdly broad, the right nostril barely visible, and the left nostril much exaggerated. The lips are very full, and look as though Her Royal Highness were just in the act of blowing out a candle. There is a very white patch just above the right shoulder. Postmarked with very thin concentric circles.

King Kamehameha V

6 Cents. Green



Engraved in taille-douce on yellowish white paper, perf. 12. All lettering very clear and distinct. Two circles in upper corners are mathematically true, The H and A of HAWAII, and the T and A of Keneta, touch each other. The king has plenty of hair on both sides of his head, and there is a line drawn down the center of his coat, to mark where the two sides button together. The middle button is left white, except a dot in the center and a ring round the outside. There is a point under KE of KENETA which comes down below the boundary line.


Lithographed, on yellowish paper, perf. 13. The lettering looks ragged. Two circles in upper corners are very badly drawn, and the outline is broken and untrue. The H and A and the T and A do not touch each other. The king seems to have scarcely any hair on the left side of his head. There is no join in the coat where it buttons. The middle button is shaded nearly all over, except a small white patch on one side of it. The point under KE does not come within two or three lines of the boundary, instead of overlapping it as in the genuine. Postmarked with concentric circles. The perforation is rather better than usual, but the drawing is bad in the minor details. The color of the original is like that of the 3 C. United States, whilst the forgery is of a peculiar chalky yellow-green. The eyes are too fierce and glaring in the forgery.


18 Cents. Red



Engraved in taille-douce, on yellowish-white paper, perf. 12. Eyes pretty well open, and pupils visible. Three strongly-marked “crow’s feet” wrinkles in the corner of right eye. The two strong wrinkles on each side of the nose are exactly opposite each other. The coat and waistcoat are very distinct, so that there is no difficulty in saying which is which. The figure I is the same in both bottom corners. All the labels stand out very distinctly from the background, and all the lines of shading throughout are excessively fine, except the lines on the coat, which are five or six times thicker than any of the others. There are two little triangles coming down from the top, over the H and last I of HAWAII, half of the one over H is very darkly shaded, and the one over the I is scarcely shaded at all. The bow of the necktie is very distinct.


Lithographed on very yellowish paper, perf. 13. Eyes almost shut, and pupils not visible. No wrinkles to be seen in corner of right eye. Wrinkles on each side of the nose not opposite to each other, the one on the right cheek being considerably higher than the one on the left. No certainty as to which is coat, and which is waistcoat. Figures in bottom corners not both alike, the left-hand 1 being bigger than the right.
The labels do not stand well out from the background; and the lines of shading throughout are rather coarse, those on the coat being no thicker than the rest. The two little triangles over the H and last 1 of name are both very darkly shaded. They form part of an arch over the name, the rest of the arch being supposed to be cut away by the top of the stamp, but this is more evident in the forgery than in the genuine. The bow of necktie is not well drawn, and the right-hand end is particularly indistinct. There are other minute differences, but the above are the most important. Printed in sheets of 25 ( 5 x 5 ), and ungummed.

Postmarked with the old British Guiana postmark.

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