To certain rogues, however, there opened up a profitable field. They made a practice of cleaning off the postmarks so that the stamps could be used again, thus defrauding the Post Office. It was only a step from this to the making of actual stamps for similar fraudulent use, and such stamp are called forgeries.
Then came the stamp collector, who was willing to pay, at first pence, and later pounds, for old stamps, so that the business of the forger offered much larger profits.
When he defrauded the Post Office he might make a penny or two per stamp, but in making imitations of stamps for collectors, he naturally chose the rare ones and might make large sums if his work was sufficiently skilful to deceive the collector. At first, the work of the forger was very crude, but as the knowledge of the stamp collector grew, so the skill of the forger improved, and since the early days of our hobby there has been a continual war between the collector and the forger.
When the demand for stamps in fine condition became pronounced, the rouge often found it more profitable to take genuine damaged stamps, or stamps in poor condition, and repair them or add nice wide margins to them, and skill in this direction has reached a very high level.
The collector need not, however, be disturbed by this, if he is not led away by greed for bargains.
Against the forgers and repairers is arrayed an army of experts, collectors and dealers of wide knowledge and great experience, all on the watch for the result of any nefarious work. If therefore, the collector wishing to buy scarce stamps, confines his dealings to reputable firms, he is not likely to come to any harm.
But if he buys old stamps, which have an established value, at far less than that value, in the hope of bargains, he will almost certainly find himself at the mercy of the rogues of the stamp world and in possession of a fine assortment of forgeries, repaired stamps and "unused stamps" which are really used one from which postmarks or pen marks have been cleaned.
Reprints are on a different footing, These are stamps printed from the original plates, blocks, or stones from which stamps were printed after such stamps have gone out of the issue. They are therefore not printed for use as stamps, but to supply collectors, when there are no longer stocks of the actual issued stamps available.
This practice of reprinting was fairly common in the early days of our hobby, but it is not extensively practised today. Although printed from the original plates, etc., reprints are usually distinguishable from original by paper, gum, or some other peculiarity.
Bogus stamps differ from forgeries in that forgeries are imitations of stamps that have actually existed, while bogus stamps are simply labels which pretend to be stamped. Quite a number of instances have occurred of new issues of stamps coming on the market, purporting to come from a certain country, but which the government of the country concerned knows nothing about. They have simply been made by rogues who hope to sell large stocks of them to dealers and through them to collectors before the fraud is discovered.