Fake Advertising Covers
(the "Maryland" fakes)

I was recently contacted to review a group of about 90 advertising covers for a dealer in Canada who thought that they were likely faked. After a quick review of some scans I was convinced many, if not all, were extremely dangerous fakes.

This short web presentation is an attempt to document the characteristics of these fakes and make postal historians aware of the likelihood that others are in the marketplace. The same group of covers I purchased included a smaller group of Canada covers. These covers may have been sold by the presumed manufacturer (located in Maryland) as being reproduction add-ons. One or more examples were sold on eBay in 2016 as being genuine, or without notice that they were not genuine.

A common characteristic of the faked advertising covers is that they are genuine covers with genuine stamps, genuine postmarks and genuine addresses to which advertising images have been added. This pattern may not be uniform in newer productions from the same factory.

A PDF file is here of the 91 United States covers that in my opinion have been faked. Most by adding images to otherwise genuine covers but including a couple Civil War era where additional aspects have been faked, including a unused patriotic with fake address, stamp added, "Old Stamps" faked on and "Due" faked on (on these marking note the blurry letters and the background "noise" that should not be there).

The Covers (click thumbnail for full size)

Genuine -
for comparison purposes. Note strong color of the image. 

Fake #1 - note first that the imprint below the portrait at left includes only two lines of the return address, omitting the city of the "Honeyman Hardware Company." Of course, that style of return address imprint would normally include name and city and that city should be the city of the postmark. In this case, the genuine lists San Francisco as city of the company and cover bears a proper San Francisco postmark. On the faked cover, research reveals that the Honeyman Hardware Company was a well known Portland, Oregon company of the era. However, the fake cover was postmarked at Erie, Pennsylvania.

Note also that the image used for the fakery has been cropped at right instead of filling the horizontal space as the original. In addition, note the intensity of the color printing on the genuine, which appears to have been screen printed, and the washed out appearance of the fake which is believed to have been produced by photo lithography.

Finally, note that the address impinges substantially into the image which was actually printed on top of the existing address and the existing return address. In almost all cases, when people addressed genuine advertising covers they avoided writing over the printed image. Some exceptions exist to this but is generally the case except when a automated address plate may have been employed to send a mass mailing.

Also note, in common with most all of the productions from this factory, that the letters are not as crisp as in the genuine examples.

Fake #2 - notes as previous fake apply here as well but in this case the underlying genuine use is from Pittsburg rather than Erie. I include this to illustrate another aspect of these fakes, the image has been resized from 105 mm width of fake #1 to 85 mm width. The maker has adeptly resized images to fit the size of the covers.

Additional fakes (click to enlarge):

Richard Frajola (Mar 2017)