Marschall Pétain Forgeries

WWII Forgeries

During World War II, the British printed propaganda leaflets and newspapers and inserted them into the French postal system using counterfeit French postage stamps printed by the British Political Warfare Executive.

The stamps exist in perforated (“A” suffix”) and imperforate (“B” suffix) varieties.

The counterfeit stamps are of four designs — Mercury, Iris, Pétain with hat, and Pétain without hat.

There are numerous easy-to-spot printing differences between the originals and the forgeries.

The 30 cent Pétain forgery (MiNr 39) is of much better printing quality than the original, and has minor differences in the shading lines, particularly in the moustache.

MiNr 39

MiNr 39

The 50 cent (MiNr 40) Pétain forgery can be distinguished by the addition of a period after the engraver’s mark at bottom right, and a break in the vertical lines within the moustache.

MiNr 40

MiNr 40

The 70 cent (MiNr 41) and 1.20 Franc (MiNr 43) Pétain forgeries can be distinguished by a lack of shading at the point of the chin, and broken lines at the corner of the mouth. and moustache.

MiNr 41 (MiNr 43 has same distinguishing characteristics)

MiNr 41 (MiNr 43 has same distinguishing characteristics)

The 1 Franc (MiNr 42) Pétain forgery can be distinguished by a lack of shading within the tie, a lack of shading at the point of the chin, and broken lines within the moustache.  It also has a slightly smaller perforation, approximately 14.5 x 14 instead of 14 x 13.5.

MiNr 42

MiNr 42

The pink 1.50 Franc (MiNr 44) Pétain forgery is a bit of an oddity.  Only two perforated sheets (80 stamps total) are known to have been produced, and L.N. & M. Williams, in their definitive work Forged Stamps of Two World Wars, indicated these two sheets were perforated 14 x 13.5, and the distinguishing feature is a lack of space within the value text (as with the MiNr 45).  This is echoed by SGM Herbert Friedman (Ret.) in his seminal work, Propaganda and Espionage Philately.

However, this copy is different.  It has the other distinguishing marks of a forgery within the design of the stamp (as with Mir 45 & 46), but does not have solid value text, and has 14.5 x 14 perforation.  It is signed by Mayer as a genuine forgery.

MiNr 44

MiNr 44

The brown 1.50 Franc (MiNr 45) Pétain forgeries can be distinguished by a lack of lines within the ear, a hollow eye, a break within the lines of the moustache, a larger blank space at the corner of the mouth, and a space within the value text with solid-filled text instead

MiNr 45

MiNr 45

The 2 Franc Pétain forgery can be distinguished by a lack of lines within the ear, a hollow eye, a break within the lines of the moustache, a larger blank space at the corner of the mouth, and a space within the value text with solid-filled text instead.

MiNr 46

MiNr 46

For more on this issue, see Propaganda and Espionage Philately, by SGM Herbert A. Friedman (Ret.).