Dr Bernhardt Assmus: Britain’s First Convicted Stamp Forger

May 22, 2017 by Stanley Gibbons

On 8 February 1892, Dr Bernhardt Burghardt Assmus was found guilty at the Central Criminal Court, London, for unlawfully obtaining money by false pretenses by selling forged stamps as genuine to London stamp dealers Theodore Buhl and Morris Giwelb. After being found guilty for this crime, he was sentenced to three years penal servitude. This was the first prosecution of this sort in Great Britain.

The main witnesses at the trial, besides Theodore Buhl and Morris Giwelb, were stamp dealers Percy Bright and Harry Hickles of Bright and Son, Bournemouth, and Charles Reya, a London antiquarian bookseller, as well as expert witnesses Major Edward Evans and Charles Phillips, both of Stanley Gibbons.

Details about Dr Assmus are very sketchy. He was born around 1856 and was originally from Hamburg, although there are no records available in Hamburg. He was for a time Dean of the Paris Academy and a novelist. From 1882 he was proprietor and editor of the German Gazette in Paris. Around 1887 he moved to London, where he then proceeded to lose all his money in a bad speculation, and his wife due to infidelity. He was then declared bankrupt in 1890. It is unclear when he started his production of forged stamps – was he involved in forgeries while in Paris?

Sometimes he used variations on his name, such as A Bernard.

To find out more, see the latest GSM.

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