The German North Africa Fakes

by Kristian Kyhl

On the official SNA Page, stamps of neighbouring regions are depicted. The two middle ones from German North Africa are clearly fake! The right one I will come back to, my studies only covers the prewar postal history of DNA so far.

The middle left stamp is actually quite famous, as these fakes led to the downfall of the mayor in the German town Bremen (*). In 1905 a rundown carpenter from Bremen, Ernst Schlick, 'manufactured' a number of these fake and extremely rare stamps for the usual reasons (how many is not known). He went around town and sold some of the stamps to different stamp dealers for a considerable amount of money.

Then he made his mistake; as a little present he gave one of the stamps to his cousin, a successful young merchant. Two  years later the young man got into some financial problems, and he went to see his very good friend (maybe more than that, if you read between the lines in "Realpolitik im Kaiserreich" but starkly denied in "Die Schlick Fälschungen") the mayor of Bremen, with whom he at that time had done some business. The mayor was an enthusiastic philatelist and was eager to get the stamp into his collection, but did not have nearly enough cash, so what to do? The merchant needed the money to pay his debt, so the mayor decided to lend the money from the town cashbox, but he sincerely promised to himself to pay them back as soon as he could visit the local bank the next day. 

When people do things like this it often goes wrong; surprise revision! The cash deficit was discovered at once and the only other one with a key to the box, the town treasurer had been occupied in the south of Bavaria for quite some time. Scandal! The rather right wing newspapers of the town (the mayor was Social-Democratic) got wind of the story and the previous years stories of alleged visits to brothels, connections with a Holsteinian underground Movement for the liberation of 'South Denmark' were blown up again (the former most probably utter nonsense, the latter could be true, due to the mayor having studied in Copenhagen).

This soon led the police to the young Merchant and ultimately to Schlick himself.

The forgery itself is actually a bad one. In 1897 a new definitive set for the German Empire was prepared by the Postal Authority. They started printing the first issue, but the issue never went out in the country. The government could not allow the country notation "Deutsches Reich", as the states Württemberg and Bavaria still printed their own stamps, therefore the notation "Reichspost", should make the transition to a single German Postal Authority more 'edible' to the two stats. Due to the fire at the "Preussiche Staatsdruckerei" and political reasons these stamps were not issued before 1900, and by reusing the old plates the notation "Deutsches Reich" could finally be used from April 1st 1902. To get back to German North Africa, a shipment of the 'wrong' stamps had already been shipped to the colony, in order to have a unified First Day Issue, and it was decided to let them use the stamps up until new ones could be delivered. Therefore; the SNA site stamp is a "Reichspost" stamp, but it should have been a "Deutsches Reich" stamp.

The stamp is perforated; not likely, only one privately perforated is known (perforated 11x11, and can be seen at the Postal Museum in Berlin), they all came to DNA imperforated. Spelling error; it is called Deutsch Nord Afrika, and not Deutsche Nord Afrika.

The cancellation states Elbing. Right! There is a town in Germany called Elbing, so this is most probably stamped here. The little port of Elbing in DNA only used cancels where a "* (SNA) 1" was placed in the lower half of the ring, and the post office was first opened in 1904!!!!

Here is a link to a genuine cover, for all to see how the stamp ought to look: (link replaced by the image, V.M.)

Incidentally this cover was send by the SNA consul Carlos Esteban, do any of you know why he used his SNA address as return address?

(*) "Die Schlick Fälschungen, Schlerbermeier Verlag GmbH, 1934
Königslutter" and "Realpolitik im Kaiserreich, Stentner Verlag, 1954

Created: 11/19/01. Revised: 01/07/06
Copyright © 2001 by SNA & by Victor Manta,
 Switzerland. All rights reserved worldwide.

Click the above image to visit the site