KEY TO THE IDENTIFICATION OF ORIGINALS & REPRINTS
The purpose of this article is to provide the specialized and general collector with a tool
for the identification of the originals and reprints of the stamps of Heligoland. Every
effort has been made to keep this as straight-forward and as simple as possible.
A series of Charts was prepared for each denomination issued, with identification being
made by the presence or absence of certain distinguishing characteristics. While the main
purpose is to identify originals, the Charts also provide for the identification of the
various printings of the originals and the different printings of the reprints.
All of the original stamps of Heligoland were printed at the Imperial Printing Office in
Berlin. Stamps were printed according to demand, thus several different printings of
some of the stamps were issued, resulting in very marked color variations in the same
stamp in some instances. A total of 2,690,000 originals were printed.
Sixteen of the twenty five stamps listed in the Scott Catalog have been reprinted. These
are #1A, #2 thru #15 and #20. The plates from which the reprints were made were sold to
a Hamburg stamp dealer named Julius Goldner by the Heligoland Government. He had
reprints made from them, first at The Imperial Printing Office in Berlin, next by the firm
of Giesecke & Deverindt in Leipsig and finally by the firm of F. Schlotke in Hamburg.
The reprints are commonly referred to as the Berlin, Leipsig or Hamburg reprints.
It should be noted that when Heligoland was taken over by Germany in 1890, that 200
reprints each of Scott #16 thru #19, & #21 thru #23 were made for the German Postal
Museum. A few were stolen and made their way into private collections. They are so rare
that for the purposes of this article they are ignored.
The total number of reprints made in Berlin was 1,680,000. No record is available as to
the number of Leipsig and Hamburg reprints but they are estimated at over 5,000,000.
Counterfeits of Heligoland stamps are extremely scarce. Out of approximately ten
thousand items examined, only eight were found.
Reprints are distinguished from the originals by several different factors. The most
important of these are as follows:
1. Head type
2. Separation (rouletting or perforation)
3. Presence or absence of the "ridge" on rouletted stamps
4. Paper type
6. Color in ordinary light
7. Color in ultra-violet light
The stamps of Heligoland occur with one of three main varieties of the profile of the
head. These differences involve the shape of the points of the bust, the shape of the back
of the head and other less notable features. But the principal difference is in the shape of
the Hair protuberance suspended just above the nape of the neck. Ability to recognize
the different head types is a necessity in separating the originals from the reprints.
| Type I. This type has a full solid unindented hair knot
which looks like a rounded knob.
Type II. In this head type there is very definitely a curl which looks like a corkscrew.
Type III. In this head type the curl resembles a thick comb and the bottom part is concave downward.
The first five Heligoland stamps (Scott #1, #1A and #2 thru #4) are rouletted. The rouletting is not cleancut and the edges of the stamps appear slightly ragged and fuzzy due to loose paper fibers. The remaining stamps are perforated; Scott #5 thru #23 being perforated 13½ x 14¼ and Scott #24 and #25 being 11 ½ x 11 ½. The Leipsig reprints are perforated 13½ x 14¼ also but the diameter of the holes is small so that the teeth of the perforations are blunt (the teeth are wider than the diameter of the holes). The Hamburg reprints are perforated 14 x 14. It should be noted that an accurate perforation gauge is a necessity. Scott #3 and #4 perforated exist only as reprints.
The rouletting of the reprints in general is more cleancut than the originals, particularly the Hamburg reprints which sometimes appear to be almost imperf. Any truly imperf. stamp encountered is a reprint since no original was issued in this condition.
| THE "RIDGE" ON ROULETTED STAMPS
Reliance on this factor by students of Heligoland stamps has received various degrees of acceptance but it seems to be valid. The originals (Scott #1, #1A and #2 thru #4) were rouletted 10. The sheets were rouletted from the face side. The rouletting grid was backed by a counter form made up of a grid of grooved metal. Due to this negative grid, the rouletting on the sheet always had a very pronounced V-shaped indentation. Thus the extreme margins of the stamps show a crease or ridge along the line at which the margin is folded or impressed downward. This is the "Ridge". This is sometimes difficult to see but is usually visible on at least one margin of the stamp. Holding a stamp so that a light source is almost parallel to the surface is very helpful in finding this.
Six Heligoland stamps (Scott #7 thru #12) can be easily recognized as originals because they were printed on thick, slightly yellowish, slightly rough quadrille paper. The quadrilling is fine and is parallel to the edges of the stamp. No reprints were printed on this paper. The Leipsig Reprints are printed on a white, shiny, highly surface paper. The 1st Hamburg Reprint of Scott #20 was printed on a very thick, soft, yellowish, wove paper which may give the impression of a quadrille paper. These are the only truly distinctive paper varieties which would be readily recognized by the average collector.
The gum of the originals varies from almost smooth to finely cracked and sometimes medium cracked. It is usually yellowish or tannish in color. The gum of the Berlin Reprints frequently has a finely beaded, sharkskin like appearance. The gum of the Leipsig Reprints is always smooth and never cracked. The gum of the Hamburg Reprints is usually smooth but also may be coarsely cracked.
COLOR IN ORDINARY LIGHT
Since each person sees colors in his own way, it is very difficult to give accurate color descriptions. In the Charts which follow, an attempt has been made to convey a feeling for the many color varieties which are present on the originals and reprints. If numerous specimens are available for comparison, the problem of color descriptions becomes much
COLOR IN ULTRA VIOLET LIGHT
The color determinations under ultra violet light were made by actual observation of originals and reprints using an ultra violet light source in an inspection box equipped with a magnifying lens which made the stamp appear twice normal size.