I have a New-Year’s gift for our readers, in the shape of three Peruvian forgeries. Considering the difficulties of counterfeiting any of the works which issue from the atelier of the American Bank Note Company, these imitations are fairly done, the 20 C. being the best of the trio. Each of the originals is from a different plate, and each of the forgeries from a different stone, so that each value requires a separate description. Taking them in the order of their value, we have, to begin with:
5 C. Genuine
Engraved in taille-douce, on thick yellowish-white wove paper; perf. 12. The animals, which are supposed to represent llamas, are much more like mules. The one in front has a cloth or saddle girthed to its back, and the pack is laid upon this cloth. Its hind-quarters are not nearly so darkly shaded as the pack. All four legs are plainly visible; the off hind-leg being very darkly shaded. If a ruler be laid along the line of the face and forehead, it will cut into the R of FRANCO, and the R of PERU. The eye of the llama in the background is quite plain, and its mouth is slightly open. The hoof just under its nose is of normal proportions. The u of peru is not joined at the top, and the small accent over it is white. Outside the top scroll, above CORREOS and PERU, are two unobtrusive triangles, the hypotenuse of each follow- ing the curve of the scroll. The left-hand leaf of the agave (American aloe) is very nearly as long as all the other leaves. The two white dots, outside the end of the bottom value-scroll, are oval.
5 C. Forged
Lithographed, on very white paper, rather thin; pin-perf. 13. The pack upon the back of the front llama appears to be girted directly on to his back, without the intervention of any cloth or saddle. The hind-quarters are as dark as the pack. The off hind-leg is scarcely visible. If a ruler or straight-edge be laid along the line of the face and forehead, it will just touch the o of FRANCO. The eye of the llama in the background is not visible, and there are no symptoms of a mouth. Its front hoof, beneath its nose, is very much too large. The U of PERU is joined at the top, and the accent over it looks like an accidental break in the top line of the scroll. Outside the scroll, above CORREOS and PERU, are to be seen portions of triangles, very faint, without the hypotenuse. The last leaf (to the left-hand) of the agavd is very much shorter than the other leaves. The two white dots outside the bottom label are round. Printed in sheets of 25, S X 5 , postmarked with an oval containing six parallel bars, and ungummed. Perhaps the readiest instant tests are the shape of the two dots on each side of the bottom label, and the facial angle of the front llama.
10 C. Genuine
Engraving, paper, and perforation, as in the 5 C. Unmistakable llamas this time. The front llama has some dark shad- ing on the back of its head, and a dark patch on its back, but the two patches are not joined by shading down the back of the neck. The prickly-pear or cactus in the foreground has 11 leaves, and the commencement of a 12th. The llama in the background has a head, neck, and ears, exactly like a greyhound, with very well-marked eyes. The two ends of the C in CENTAVOS almost touch, so as to make it look like an O. The mountain-peaks in the background are so very faint, that they would not be noticed on a cursory inspection. The figure 1 on each side, has a proper head. The mouth and nostrils of the front llama, somewhat resemble those of a camel.
10 C. Forged
Lithographed; paper and perforation as in forged 5 C. The dark shading on the head of the front llama, runs down the back of its neck, and joins the shading on the back. The prickly-pear is very blotchy, and the leaves are not easily counted. The head, and neck, and ears of the llama in the background resemble those of a wolf, and there is only one eye. The C in CENTAVOS is like an English C. The mountain-peaks in the background are very plain, and much too dark. The i on each side has no head. Both the 0’s of 10 have a little dot in the middle of the left-hand limb. This is not found in the genuine. The front llama has a straight mouth and no nostrils. Postmark and number in sheet as before.
20 C. Genuine
Engraving, perforation, and paper, as in the 5 C. genuine. The central picture is exactly the same as in the 10 C., except that there is not quite so much of it seen. The frame cuts off a portion of the prickly-pear. The accents over E of CORREOS and the u of PERU are white. The outer curl of the ornament above E of CORREOS and L of DEL is round. The background of the scroll, behind the words CORREOS DEL PERU, is cross-shaded. Colour, a very rich dark yellowish brown.
20 C. Forged
Lithographed; paper and perforation as in forged 5 C. There are two dark oblique lines of shading on the mountain, which come between the heads of the two llamas, the right-hand line touching the nose of the llama in the background. For the rest of the central picture, the description under the head of 10 C., will suffice. The figure 2 in the left top corner, and the one in the right bottom corner, both appear to be in two pieces, as if the tail could be separated from the rest of the figure. The accents over E of CORREOS and U of PERU are blotchy. The outer curl of the scroll-ornament over L of DEL is oval, and that on the left, over E of CORREOS is nearly so. The background of the name-label is solid. The colour of the forgeries is much too pale. Number in sheet, and postmark, as before.
I have had some trouble in the description of these stamps, as the forgers have imitated the originals very closely. However, our readers need not have the slightest hesitation in deciding upon the genuineness or otherwise of any of these stamps which may be in their possession, if they will but remember the difference between taille-doucc engravings and lithographs.
From “The Spud Papers” by Atless, Pemberton & Earée, 1871-1881.