Cour internationale overprints

How to spot fakes?

The Hague in the Netherlands is home to the International Court of Justice, housed in the Palace of Peace. The delegates who work here have special mail privileges, inside the Palace of Peace is a small postoffice and the mail that goes out had its own type of official stamps.

Starting in 1950 special stamps were designed, but before the I.C.J. used specially overprinted stamps from the Netherlands.
The rules for the use of the I.C.J. official stamps were very strict: the delegates had to bring their mail to the postoffice and deliver it to the postmaster. He was the only one who was allowed to put the stamps on the envelopes and he had to cancel them immediately. Handing out - let alone selling - mint stamps was strictly forbidden and reason enough for prompt dismissal.

Due to all the restrictions the overprinted stamps from the 1930s and 1940 (NvPH # 9-19, Michel # 9-19 and Scott # O9-O19) are rather rare and have high catalogue values, at least compared to the original stamps. Not surprising that there are forgeries of these stamps. How to recognise them? There are a few easy clues to spot forgeries:

  • the overprints for nrs. 9-15 exist only used (although it must be said that in recent years some mint sets have emerged. The origins remain uncertain, so it is not clear whether these mint sets are genuine)
  • any other cancellation than 's-Gravenhage is a fake
  • check if the overprint is "under" the cancel
  • the forged stamps have gold overprints that are less shiny than the originals
  • the letters of the overprint are smaller and less "open"
  • the "M" on the second line has two parallel legs in the forgery, where the "M" in the real overprint has slanted legs.
One last note: do not think that these clues will cover all forgeries. Overprinted stamps will always remain easy targets for forgery, especially when they have high catalogue values.