Notes from the Past

S. Allan Taylor -- Local Fakes

Samuel Allan Taylor well earned his notorious reputation.  His long career in stamp dealing, dating from 1863 until 1905, was devoted almost exclusively to counterfeiting, and he fashioned numerous "fantastic" designs of stamps for posts that never existed.  A complete collection of his stamps would be about impossible even in the U. S. Local and the semi-official Carriers' issues in which he operated to a great extent.  For many years I have been assembling a reference collection of these latter items and the Taylor representation is impressive, but undoubtedly far from complete.

Taylor would make up a Local or a Carrier's stamp and multiple varieties by the use of color and various colored papers, in many shades colored on surface, colored through, glazed, unglazed, wove and laid papers, even "security" papers with concealed protective patterns and watermarks.  I lately added to my collection, nearly seven hundred Taylor varieties I didn't have, which included sixty-five or more varieties of paper alone.  Probably his full line of Locals and Carriers cannot be found on all these varieties of paper, since he likely had only small supplies of some paper, scrap lots from paper houses.

To my observations the closest he ever came to faking a U. S. stamp was his fantasy based on the Franklin Carrier.  The genuine shows a profile of Franklin, facing left, while in Taylor's, Franklin faces to the right with the surrounding frame a crude suggestion of the 1851, 1¢ stamp.  It was as near as he dared venture in the imitation of a stamp once authorized by and used by the U. S. Post Office Department.  His design reading, "Carrier's Stamp," does not include "U. S.," nor "Postage," but neither did the original, a factor that surely influenced Taylor to create it.  It comes in many colors and sometimes we see them offered for sale as "scarce postal essays," but it was just another of Taylor's fakes.

He had a keen sense of humor, evident in many stamps he produced, but he was at all times a cynical faker and seemingly thrived in his profession.  He contended that his output was for use as "spacefillers," the genuine being too expensive for the average collector.  He circulated his stamps widely and probably his patrons paid little for them but he could work up a a very deceptive job when in the mood.  Then the stamp was carefully printed and often a forged or invented postmark was added for a touch of greater "authenticity."  A fake of his occasionally seen is the "Albany Letter Express" stamp, modeled with the Pomeroy frame, the Boyd eagle in the vignette.  I have it in several colors but one "tied" to a piece of cover with a bogus "Albany Letter Express Paid" postmark in red, looks like the "real thing" might have looked, had there ever been such a Local post.

- George B. Sloane
Sloane's Column
March 21, 1953

 Posted November 27, 1999  

Index of 507 Notes from the Past

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