New Method to Check the Authenticity of Rare Postage Stamps
A team of researchers reporting in the journal Analytical Chemistry has developed an innovative complex method for verifying the authenticity of the most valuable postage stamps.
"Museums, archives and private stamp collectors have long been searching for better ways to confirm the authenticity of rare stamps, and details like cancellation marks that increase value," reported study senior author Dr Ludovico Valli from the University of Salento, Italy.
"But until now, those approaches have been limited to individual components of a stamp, like the ink, or have relied on expert inspections."
Dr Valli with colleagues looked for a better way. They describe successful use of a lab test called infrared spectroscopy to test all of the multiple components that make up a stamp – including paper fibers, fillers, inks, adhesives and coatings – to produce a portrait without damaging the stamp itself.
The scientists tested it successfully on more than 180 Italian stamps that span almost the entire history of Italy's stamp-making, which dates back to 1850.
They detected two counterfeits, one of the rare Gronchi Rosa, which was issued in 1961 for then-president Giovanni Gronchi's trip to South America, and a 2-cent stamp from 1861.
According to the team, the new technology is "a really simple, precise, immediate, and nondestructive method for determining the authenticity of stamps."
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