Monday, March 8, 2010

Gandhi postmark cancel from Germany on 2nd October 2009 - Not Fake!

There has been a tremendous amount of controversy generated due to a blog that appeared here. I have received a few emails and phone calls from my fellow philatelist and readers of this blog.

I have listened to both sides of the fence and here is my perspective and opinion on it.

For the record, I have personally received the cover with the cancel delivered to me by the US Post office at my home from my friend Mr Rajesh Varma in Germany. Additionally the cover also has the "IntelligentMail" barcode printed on it. As time permits I will edit this post and upload the image of the cover.

What we didn't know is that the german postoffice does allow private post marks to be used on covers that are mailed through them as long as correct postage is applied. It's like using your own franking machine or meter mail on a cover.

As technology has improved so has the diversified offerings by the postoffices around the globe. Here in the USA you can upload your own image and make a postage stamp out of it. A unique barcode gets printed along with the stamp. This barcode is used for scanning & sorting. I am not getting into too much barcode related details since it is beyond the scope of this blog.

Similarly, before the barcode, phosphor was used on stamps to enable scanning and sorting by machines. This was invented in the 1960s and it is still continued to be used. The USA Gandhi stamp of 1961 has no phosphor. However subsequent USA issues have phosphor on it. As part of "Operational Efficiency", most USA postoffice do not provide hand cancels anymore. Upon requesting, they will gladly do it for you. The 1969 Gandhi Great Britain stamp has phosphor, but you can easily find one without it which is an error and not a printer waste.

Off late a few sculptress dealers have made their own cancels using quite sofisticated tools and then using them to make First day covers or making commemorative covers on any occasion related to Gandhi. Inflating the price of these worthless covers and duping the collecting community in general. A while back, I had seen a Gandhi Nicaragua miniature sheet with serial number sold on ebay and then subsequently turned around, converted to a FDC and resold on ebay a few days later. The thing which tied both of them together was the serial number on the miniature sheet. Thanks to the digital age we are able to catch these. However the worst of the lot and quite difficult to catch are the ones that are made from the 1969-Gandhi Centenary Issues, specifically the FDCs from countries like Panama for one. These fake first day covers make their way into catalogs and books there by endorsing these covers as genuine with it creating an artificial world of Gandhi collectibles that has a market of it's own.

An additional word of caution out there for 1948 Gandhi FDC collectors. There are a few fakes of 1948-Gandhi-Nepal-Embassy Cancels floating in the market with or without delivery cancels. So be careful.

Like everyone else and including me, Ketan Patel has burnt his fingers on fakes. Fascinated by this German Postmark, Ketan Patel did some investigative work to try and get to the bottom of this. I do commend his efforts on this.

It didn't take too much time and effort for the word to reach Mr Madhukar Jhingan at StampsOfIndia who picked up the phone and contacted Mr Rajesh Varma. I quote what appeared in the weekly newsletter of Stamps Of India, with permission,

"As far as I could with my resources find out is that a certain stamps club brought out its own cancellation on 2nd October, 2009 on occasion of international non-violence day as a protest against the massacre which took place on 11th March 2009 in Winnenden High School in which 16 students and teachers were killed. The German post has permitted to use it only for one day i.e. on 2nd October 2009. Hence according to me these covers are not fake but correctly used with correct postage and postal bar code. False cancellation can be made but postal bar code can no one make or copy. Moreover, here post being private there is no communication between the post offices. So it can be possible that what Winnenden post is doing is not known to the post in Berlin or Frankfurt."

It has also come to my attention that this unique cancel and cover even showed up recently in an award winning exhibit by Mr Pradip Jain, from Patna.

Based on everything above, I can conclude that this is not a fake cover & cancel, nothing out of the ordinary that adds value to one's collection, perhaps glorified to some extent by the coverage it has received from everyone including this blog.

To the readers, I would recommend to focus on the real meaning and occasion it was issued for and specifically for what Gandhi sacrificed his life for.

If anyone has any further comments to make, please directly make it on this blog.

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