Postal Fraud: A Historical Look

July 24, 2017 by Stanley Gibbons

In the early days of the Penny Post, postal fraud was taken very seriously by the Post Office, with numerous measures taken to prevent, detect and punish the perpetrators of fraud. In the first instalment of a two-part article, we look at historical attempts to defraud Post Offices, particularly in Britain, from the pre-stamp period to the end of the 20th century.

The subject of postal fraud is quite a difficult topic to write about. This type of crime is not about the forgery of stamps or the improvement of covers to defraud the collector – it is about the deliberate, planned fraud upon postal authorities.Even in the days of the Penny Black, considerable effort was made to prevent, detect and punish the perpetrators of postal fraud. In order to deter fraudsters, stamps were designed with a degree of sophistication, engraved to a high quality and printed by state-of-the-art printing equipment. Surprisingly, this did not always have the desired effect as the stamps stood up well to being cleaned and reused. Rowland Hill himself was very concerned about the potential loss of revenue and went to considerable lengths to combat postal fraud by conducting experiments to see what combination of ink colour for both the stamps and cancels should be used in order to avoid reuse.

To find out more, see the latest GSM.

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