We publish below messages received either from our readers or from persons or organizations that were notified for selling illegal stamps. We have also sent several short warnings to bidders, like: "Hello, You appear to buy some illegal stamps, as ruled out by the Universal Postal Union. We would like to help you and for this reason we recommend you to visit the site Best wishes, Phil. Web. Watch."  Their reactions are also presented on this page.

A letter that confirms the idea that dealers are also sometimes victims of a certain lack of knowledge in the domain of illegal stamps.

>> Dear Sir, These stamps are being sold as collectibles and not as postage  stamps - in fact they have been cancelled to order and are invalid for postage. Based on this information how can these be illegal? I look forward to your reply. Sincerely, Special Collectibles (name changed) <<

Dear Sir,   

Many thanks for your question. There is a fundamental difference between the labels that you are offering and the ordinary postal stamps. Please consider that:

     The fact that they are CTOs and are as such invalid for postage isn't relevant for our issue. The problem is that neither these labels nor their mint "brothers" were EVER valid for postage in Angola. For this reason they were declared Illegal Stamps by the UPU, and they were consequently outlawed.
    I hope that you understand that under this circumstances any stamp collector who would buy them in good faith will be hoaxed and any dealer that purposely sell them is cheating his customer. The stamp collector will hopefully find out one day the truth and will possibly give up such an, in his eyes, ungrounded hobby. He may also turn up against the offending dealer...
   For all these reasons may I ask you to withdraw your stamps from the auction and to support us in our struggle against the illegal issues. For more information about illegal stamps we invite you to regularly visit our site.

  Thanks a lot in advance for your cooperation. Regards,
  Phil. Web. Watch.

The Illegal Stamps aren't only, yes, illegal, mainly they are also immoral.

>> ... This means that any such item for sale should be listed in a special category named "Illegal Stamps", and with a clear description of what an illegal stamp is. If this is done, and given the fact that many people collect and list both frauds and illegals as "collectibles", it is then up to the customer to decide whether he/she wishes to spend his/her money on the item. Yes, the "issuing body" will make (some) money on the sale of such items, but if truthful and objective information is given by the sales-company, the revenue will, in the long, be dramatically diminished. Rose C. <<

   Sorry, Rose, but we cannot agree with your idea. We compare the illegal stamps with illegal watches, like copies of Cartier or Rolex. The illegal watches, simply named fakes, look like the genuine watches, but they aren't. So what happens with them when they are seized? They are quickly destroyed, sometimes even with bulldozers. Nobody comes with the proposal to allow fakers or resellers for offering them as "illegals". This became possible because the Union of Swiss Watch Manufacturers strongly fought and consequently got the necessary legal support against "their" illegals. The main reason invoked by watch manufacturers for outlawing the "illegals" was that the fakes are injurious to the image of their products. 
    Please look at what the Comorian Postal Administration (PA) wrote to the UPU: The circulation of these stamps is causing moral and economic harm not only to the Comorian postal services, but also to collectors. Their circulation also discredits the Comorian postal services in the eyes of philatelists worldwide and forces collectors to distinguish between fake and authentic postage stamps.
    Or, even better, let's look at what the Rwanda PA wrote in September 2001 to the UPU: "The most outrageous aspect for our country and our administration is the fact that certain miniature sheets illustrate pornographic scenes. This is all the more reprehensible in as much as it is prohibited to use the Post to convey pornographic materials." Please notice that this PA isn't speaking here only about principles, but also about real plague with which the philatelic market was recently infected. 
    We hope that we could demonstrate without any doubts that the illegal stamps are injurious as well to the image of issuing countries as for the philately as a whole, a fact that wasn't yet sufficiently understood and publicized. For the reasons presented above the PWO will continue to ask dealers for withdrawing of such stamps from auctions, and not just for listing them as illegals. We hope that in long run you will agree with our position.
Phil. Web. Watch.

>> Dear Sir! Thank You for e-mail. I know that it is not official issues .But I never describe my lots as official issues of these countries (see description my lots). We (philatelists from Russia and Estonia) call it like PRIVATE issues but not how LOCAL ones as in many official philatelic catalogues. Also I know several printer*s in Europe (for example in UK and Lithuania) who print such issues and several enough big philatelic firms (for example in UK, France and Belgium) who officially trade these issues. So I do not understand why do you have a negative interest to my lots? Best regards. Gennady. <<

    It is not so important how are these stamps called in different circles. For reasons explained throughout this site UPU calls them ILLEGAL STAMPS. It is also not relevant how the dealers describe them in their offers, because these stamps will stay illegal even if they would be described as such. They are rather similar to counterfeit money (that has, as it's know, the property to push out the real one). It's perfectly true that these stamps are usually printed outside the regions the stamps are saying that they are coming from. This fact doesn't make them more or less illegal. Regards, Phil. Web. Watch.

I am trying to understand why you sent this? Am I buying illegal stamps????? I did not know and am confused. I really am not into stamp collecting, just the celebrities on the stamps that I bought. If I am buying illegal stamps, am I in trouble for it??? Or the person selling them?? Or is it not a big deal as long as I am not a stamp collector??? Sorry if I am asking too many questions, but you caught me off guard with your comment/question. Would you please reply with some answers? Thanks a bunch, A.P.

Hello A.P., We have seen you on eBay, trying to buy some illegal stamps, and we just wanted to friendly warn you about that. You aren't in trouble with it, but you should be aware of the fact that you try to buy some labels that are of no philatelic value and/or significance. Of course, by buying them, you directly support an immoral underground commerce that is harmful for the philately. If you wish to know more, please visit the site that we recommended earlier. Best wishes, Phil. Web Watch.

Hello, firstly I thank you for your message informing me that  the stamps of Angola were false. As they are thematic stamps which are worth even less than images Pokemon, I left them on sale, but I added in the description the following comment: " Attention the 6 stamps of Angola are false, are not recognized not the UPU, and were never not valid for the postage. ". Generally the buyers of this kind of stamps, look especially that the image is beautiful, and do not ask too many question to know if they are false or not. Very cordially. idefix.

It's already an advance that you mentioned that they are not valid, but it's not enough. Illegals are illegals and they should not be sold, but destroyed. Do you think that you can openly sell let's say a false Rolex or Cartier watch? If you think that you may not (and you don't, I assure you), then try to find where is the difference between selling illegal stamps and false watches. There is no difference at all. The fact that the illegal stamp are beautiful or not is not relevant for your problem. Regards, Philatelic Web Watch.

The letter bellow shows how much there is still to work in order to eliminate the illegal stamps from the philatelic landscape. Thanks, Chris, for your struggle and for your example.

Dear Victor,

I completely support your effort to stamp out illegal stamps.

I received a Tanzanian stamp from my regular supplier of new issues, but was informed by a correspondent in Tanzania that the postal authority was not aware of it.

The first I knew was in this email, dated 31/7/01 : "In the meantime, whilst looking through Tanzania page on your site I found the large pink stamp showing the Egret ( the last one) which you have stated to have been issued in 2000. As I did not have the stamps I went to the bureau with a print out. I was shocked to be told by the lady that she does not remember having seem that one, implying that it was probably not issued by them. She kept the picture and promised to call me back. She has not , so far. I will go and see her sometime during the week and come back to you."

Then on 6/8/01 : "This year Tanzania has issued only 14 stamps so far in three sets, thankfully no birds so far. The cloud over the 300 shillings Egret is getting darker. They are not able to find it, don't even remember having seen it. The ladies there has asked for 2 days time. Let me see what I hear by the end of the week but I have a feeling that one is not genuine."

On 24/8/01 : "You may now remove that egret from the site. It has not been issued by them. I also inquired if it could have been produced and sold by their agents. They say all stamps are first delivered here and are then sent to the dealers. In any case some are definitely sold from the Philatelic Bureau in Dar Es Salaam. May I know from where you acquired the stamp?"

This was my response : "The stamp came from my regular supplier of new issues, and I described it as "Single MS, but with blank borders".  It cost 4.50 which is a lot for a single stamp!"

My correspondent's reply was : "That man is ripping you. The face value of 300 Tanzanian shillings is 0.25 sterling, had it been genuine!! Who is this dealer?"

I cannot fault my supplier, who has probably received this as an agent along with his usual products.

I also had to remove a Belarus set of 7 "WWF" bird stamps I bought from my usual supplier in 1998 after finding them listed as bogus.  Also they were not in catalogues.

It would be really useful to see images of these stamps, suitably obliterated to prevent their further use.

Best regards,
Chris Gibbins


Thank you very much for enlightening me about both fake Rolexs along with illegals. I wish you every success in the campaign against illegals.


George. On the newsgroup: rec.collecting.stamps.discuss.

   Our readers are invited to inform us about their problems with the illegals stamps. The most relevant letters will be published, without to mention the author's name, unless this is explicitly desired. Please e-mail us at PWO.

Published: 09/16/2001. Revised: 07/05/02.
Copyright 2001 - 2002 by PWO and
by Victor Manta, Switzerland.
All rights reserved worldwide.