This page last updated: 23 July 2019

::: MISSIONARY STAMPS - Forgery Study :::

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Forgeries 1
Forgeries 2

This black on vivid yellow paper example dates from the earliest days of stamp collecting. The paper of this forgery is a vivid yellow but the color may appear pale on your screen. When discovery of the Missionary stamps first was announced by the philatelic press in the 1860's, this forgery is what the writers were describing!

An unusual orange 2¢ of unknown origin probably dating from the 1860's.


Scott Forgeries 1
Scott Forgeries 2
Scott Forgeries 3
Scott Forgeries 4

J. Walter Scott, the "father of philately" in the United States, made this forgery to show in his early catalogues. Note how the corner foils are separated from the borders.

An example of the Scott forgery of the 5¢.

Scott's forgery of the 13¢ "Hawaiian Postage."

Scott's forgery of the 13¢ "H. I. & U. S. Postage" stamp has different borders and corner foils than those of his other denominations.

Surprisingly, the Scott forgeries persisted as Scott Catalogue images of the Missionaries until 1993, after I furnished the publisher photographs from the Advertiser Collection. Scott forgeries are relatively common but examples seeking certificates of authenticity still arrive at the Philatelic Foundation.

Using the corners of the fancy borders as a guide,
one can easily distinguish most forgeries:

Scott Forgeries 5
Corner of genuine missionary; note the corner design is connected to the adjoining fancy border designs and there is a little fleur de lis at the tip of the corner arc.
Scott Forgeries 6
Scott Forgeries 6 Zoom In
Another early 2¢ forgery with a spike at the tip of the corner arc.
Scott Forgeries 7
Scott Forgeries 7 Zoom In 1
Scott Forgeries 7 Zoom In 2
Scott Forgeries 7 Zoom In 3
Another early 2¢ forgery with a spike bounded by curled lines; the corner arcs turn in at the top. The black on yellow forgery has the same corner design. The double "ii" of "Hawaiian" is flattened into Roman Numerals topped by dots.
Scott Forgeries 8 Zoom In 1
Scott Forgeries 8 Zoom In 2
Floating leaves corner on the Scott forgeries of Nos. 1-3. The corner of the Scott forgery of No. 4 is different with a flattened fleur de lis design.
Scott Forgeries 9
A forgery of the 13¢ H. I. & U. S. stamp with a forged cancel. This example may have been reproduced from the Scott forgeries and has the same corner design.


  • Aguirre, Eduardo, "El Caso Klemann Grinnell," Mexico Postal, Vol. II, No. 13, p. 193-194, July, 1922. Focus is on the Grinnell trial.

  • Ashbrook, Stanley B., "The Grinnell Hawaiian Missionary Stamps," Stamps, Vol. 101, No. 1 [1308], p. 36-38, October 5, 1957. Excellent article on the Grinnell forgeries with a study of the postmarks used on the Grinnells.

  • Atlee, W. Dudley, "A Critical Analysis of the Stamps and Forgeries of the Hawaiian Islands," The Philatelical Journal, Vol. I, Nos. 2-9, February, 1872 - September, 1872. In this early publication, this respected author detailed various missionary forgeries and asserted the 2¢ value was a "sham."

  • Earée, Rev. R. B., Album Weeds, How to Detect Forged Stamps, "Sandwich Islands," p. 412-425, First Edition, Stanley Gibbons & Co., London, 1882, reprinted at The American Philatelist, Vol. II, No. 1, p. 1-5, Oct. 10, 1887, No. 2, p. 15-18, Nov. 10, 1887; Second Edition, "Sandwich Islands," p. 555-568, Stanley Gibbons & Co., London, 1892; Third Edition, "Hawaii," p. 461-491, Stanley Gibbons & Co., London, 1906-1907, reprinted at Weekly Philatelic Gossip, October-November, 1933. Paper back reprints of the Third Edition were made in Canberra. Hawaii is in Part III, p. 461-491. Only the Third Edition is very helpful so far as Hawaiian forgeries are concerned.

  • Cowman, Fleet Paymaster A. R., (R. N.), "Stamp Weeds, and how to Detect them./Hawaii Forgeries," Stamp Collecting, Vol. 24, No. 1, Apr., 1925 to Vol. 24, No. 17, July, 1925. Cowman makes an effort to expand on Earée and others and to correlate their results.

  • Davey, William J., "A Detailed List of the Forgeries of Hawaii," in Meyer and Harris, p. 375-398.

  • Griebert, Hugo, "Notes on the Hawaiian Islands Stamps," Griebert's Philatelic Notes and Offers, Vol. VI, No. 1, p. 3-5, May, 1921; No. 2, p. 17-18, Sept., 1921. Griebert illustrates several forgeries; his discussion of the Grinnells is cribbed from C. H. Mekeel's earlier article.

  • Grinnell, George H., "Mr. Grinnell's Letter," Mekeel's Weekly Stamp News, Vol. XXXVI, No. 32 [1649], p. 405, Aug. 12, 1822. Grinnell relates how the stamps were found.

  • Grinnell, George H., "Grinnell's Story Of His Find Of Hawaiian Missionaries And The Famous Court Trial," Linn's Weekly Stamp News, Vol. XXIV, Oct. 1, 1951 - Oct. 15, 1951. Grinnell tell his side of the story, without addressing the technical difficulties with his "stamps."

  • Klemann, John A., "Res Adjudicata," The American Philatelist, Vol. 38, No. 2, p. 63-74, November, 1924. An important work on the Grinnell forgeries.

  • Lawrence, Ken, The Grinnell Missionaries: Genuine Stamp Rarities or Clever Fakes Created to Cheat Collectors?, Mystic Stamp Company, 2016. An essential read for anyone interested in the Grinnell forgeries. Lawrence collects the various threads developed over a century of claims, counter-claims, and lies and furnishes a compelling analysis that the Grinnells are counterfeits. This booklet can be viewed or downloaded free at Grinnell Missionaries Booklet 2016.

  • Lindquist, H. L., "Hawaiian Missionary Controversy," Collectors Club Philatelist, Vol. 1, No. 3, p. 88-92, July, 1922. This article includes photographs of many Grinnell forgeries.

  • Linn, George W., Linn's Weekly Stamp News, August, 1951 to December, 1952. A series of articles in which Linn explores the Grinnell forgeries. He seems to have a definite bias in favor of declaring them genuine. Not published is his letter to John Klemann dated Dec. 20, 1854 (original on file with the Philatelic Foundation) in which Linn admits the Grinnells "are faked."

  • Mahé, Pierre, "Honolulu," Le Timbrophile, Vol. 2, [15], p. 119, Jan. 15, 1866. Mahé describes the yellow on black forgery of the 2¢ value.

  • Maury, M. A., "Hawaïen," Le Collectionneur de Timbres-Poste, Vol. 3, No. 19, p. 146, Jan. 15, 1866. Maury also describes the black on yellow forgery.

  • Mekeel, C. H., "The Hawaiian Stamp Sensation," The Albemarle Stamp Collector, Vol. 7, January, 1921 to April, 1921. Report about the Grinnells.

  • Meyer and Harris, "The 'Grinnell Missionaries'," p. 117-121, The Philatelic Foundation, 1948. A key work on the Grinnells.

  • Richards, Charles F., A Checklist of the Stamps of Hawaii - And More, New York, 1816, p. 34-38.

  • Royal Philatelic Society London, The Investigation of the Grinnell Hawaiian Missionaries by the Expert Committee of the Royal Philatelic Society, London, Patrick Pearson, chairman of the committee, Royal Philatelic Society London, 2006

  • Serrane, Fernand, "Hawaii," Vade-Mecum du Spécialist - Expert en Timbres-Post Hors D'Europe, Vol. II, p. 134-137, Bergerac, 1929; English translation found at American Philatelist, Vol. 108, No. 8 [1,123], p. 732-733, Aug., 1994.

  • Taylor, S. Allen, "Sandwich Isles," The Stamp Collectors' Record, Vol. 1, No. 10, p.2, Nov., 1865. Taylor, a notorious forger of stamps, was the first to describe a missionary stamp in the American philatelic press but describes an obvious forgery printed in black.

  • Wood, Hon. J. P., "Decision in Klemann v. Grinnell Case," Mekeel's Weekly Stamp News, Vol. XXXVI, No. 29, [1646], p. 369-371, July 22, 1922.

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