A tiny postal fraud in 1876

Being a collector looking for interesting postal use of stamps in the classical period, means having to be a bit lucky some times. Finding rare stamps in larger lots with thousands of others, seeing that small printing error and being the only one to do so, and just having plain and old-fashioned luck where no skill or cunning is involved. This find is one of the latter.


The stamp is nk 18, a very ordinary stamp printed in millions, and even on a cover it does not become very valuable. I bought it on an auction since it looked nice, with the clear and fluid address, and none else wanted it so it was quite cheap.

Only after receiving it and having a second look, did I notice the wierd white background on the stamp. And after a short discussion with other collectors we concluded it was a 144 year old postal fraud! Now that made the cover become quite more historical interesting! Pure luck!

The Norwegian Post office had strict rules for how to cancel all stamps used as payment for the delivery of letters. They also often wrote in their internal company letter that all postal workers must be aware of postal frauds and report them. This is one example, loosely translated:

“Letters where there is attached formerly used or cancelled stamps, must be sent to the Department, so that the sender may be given the responsibility after the Law.”

Transgressions to such use were monetary fines. But in those days, many were quite poor, and we do find examples from time to time. From what I´ve seen, its usually stamps cut out from unused cardboard postal stationary or stamps that had not been cancelled, washed (or steamed) off from its envelope. This example I got through sheer luck, is a sender who just did not bother with washing or steaming it off, just had it cut out and glued directly onto the new letter. Faster and easier. 

And it worked!

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