Expertisation by RPSL Limited

 

Introduction

The Expert Committee of what was the Philatelic Society, London was proposed by the members in 1894, to detect and prevent forgeries and fraud.

The Expert Committee exists to adjudicate upon any stamps or items of postal history submitted to them for their opinion. Up to the end of 1906, when the Society became The Royal Philatelic Society, London, the committee had issued some 3,000 certificates. Today, the total number issued stands at over 230,000. RPSL Limited, the company through which the Expert Committee operates, now adds 2,500 to 3,000 each year.


 

 

Reference Collections

The Committee has privileged access to the collection of Her Majesty The Queen for the purposes of comparison. This provides an unrivalled source of reference for stamps of the British Empire. The Tapling Collection at The British Library is also used as a reference.

The Committee has its own extensive photographic records of past opinions, which serve as an important resource. The Committee also has access to a substantial reference collection of both genuine and forged material to assist with the opinions on what they consider to be "patients".


 


 

How do we sort the forgeries from the genuine items?

Comparison with known, genuine stamps is one of the key features. However, many of the most difficult and growing problems are the extremely skilful alterations to genuine stamps. This can range from added margins, faked or improved perforations, repairs to damaged portions of the stamp, and stamps being added to covers to which they did not originally belong. Many of these require not only a keen eye, but knowledge of printing and papermaking methods, knowledge of obliterations, and postal history knowledge in order to identify routes and rates.

 

The Expert Committee is assisted by the use of sophisticated equipment such as the VSC 6000, the video spectral comparator, which allows comparison of the optical properties of inks to identify forged overprints, faked colours and faked or altered postmarks.
 


 


Considerable Knowledge and Experience

Over the years the Expert Committee has seen and given opinions on most of the great philatelic rarities, as well as thousands of more common stamps. Members of the Committee are selected for not only their specialist knowledge but also for their wide collecting interests and experience. They are unpaid and give of their time and knowledge for the benefit of philately.


 


Vigilance against Forgery

Forgers are constantly seeking new and better ways to fool collectors, and part of the expertising process is knowing what they are doing and staying one step ahead. This takes constant vigilance, and every endeavour is made to pass on this knowledge to the collector who seeks expertising, although no legal liability can be accepted for this ever-changing work.


 

See more about our work

To see more about the work of the Expert Committee, you can watch this interesting slide show, which features numerous examples of genuine, fake, and forged stamps.