Genuine, Forged, and Reproduced Classic Japanese Stamps

By Lois M. Evans


A Work in Progress

A comparison study of the genuine, forged, and reproduced Dragon, Cherry Blossom, and Koban issues of Japan.

In spite of the fact that there is a tremendous number of forgeries of the classic stamps of Japan (Dragons, Cherry Blossoms, and Koban) most are easily recognized.  The ISJP  has a free service that allows members to send scans/pictures of their classic issues to me and (assuming the scans are clear),  I will pick out the common forgeries for them.  For many reasons, no one can say a stamp is genuine from a scan/picture, but it is easy to identify the common well known forgeries. ISJP dues are only $16.00 per year.  Join and enjoy this free service.

On the index page, links to completed pages are shown in blue.  This study is in color, While comparisons in color are always better, the monograph by Milton T. Montgomery, A Guide to the Cherry Blossom Series, is relied on heavily in developing the sections titled “Differences Between Genuine and Forged” for all the Cherry Blossom stamps.

Two other ISJP monographs also help with identification of the forgeries:  Forgeries & Imitations of the Dragon Stamps of Japan, and The Koban Forgeries of Japan.  Full citations are found in the bibliography on this site.

Most of the genuine graphics for this study come from my personal collection which was sold at auction in 2011.  Most of the forgery graphics come from the ISJP CD Rom: Forgeries of the Dragon, Cherry Blossom and Koban Postage Stamps of Japan.  

The study of the reproductions and forgeries of the classic issues will never be complete.  The reproductions and forgeries modern stamps is not discussed.

At first I thought I might be able to make a clear distinction between reproductions and forgeries. But there really isn’t any clear line.  What starts out as a legal reproduction in a souvenir sheet with no intention of fraud, gets turned into a forgery when someone removes the stamp from its original setting and makes the changes necessary to create a forgery.  Often these forgeries become the most deceptive.

There will never be a complete study.   Every study of the forgeries and reproductions is dated and only good for the items produced to that date.  The best way to determine that a stamp is a forgery is with knowledge of the genuine.  New forgeries can be produced at anytime and only knowledge of the genuine can determine the status of a new forgery.


LM Evans