A page committed to the struggle against ILLEGAL AND COUNTERFEIT Stamps produce world wide.



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Dear fellow stamp collectors:

The objective of our website is to project to the rest of the world the positive image of African philately. And there is so much valuable historic and cultural heritage of Africa that remains unknown that can be enhanced through the issue of honorable postage stamps that are expected to be the itinerant and miniature ambassadors of their countries.

However, we must at the same recognize that many of our African countries are suffering, probably mostly involuntarily, but also voluntarily in some cases, from a worldwide campaign of denigration of the African image through the production and distribution of what are known as illegal and abusive postage stamps. It is vital to take a stand to protect the image of our African culture from the continued proliferation of illegal and abusive stamps.

Fellow stamp collectors and friends have brought to my attention that there are many stamps circulating on the Web that are produced and sold in the name of many of our African countries and that many such so-called stamps are illegal products. Many other stamps are produced based on so-called legal contracts with private companies (working mostly in certain Western countries) and such stamps are termed as abusive because they are produced in huge quantities and in many variations and the images they portray have nothing to do with the culture or specificity of the country in the name of which they are issued. For example, how can one accept that landlocked countries such as Malawi and Rwanda should have on so-called stamps in their name, among many other topics, such as Arctic, marine and other non-African fauna, penguins, lighthouses, fire engines, Ferrari cars, ships (and catastrophes such as the sinking of the Titanic), submarines, trains, American, Asian and European public personalities, chess players, paintings, actors, actresses, musicians, singers, nudes, etc. on so-called stamps in their names! It is also shocking and totally unacceptable that certain images and scenes that appear on so-called postage stamps in the name of African countries that these are outright indecent and border on pornography.

We have learned from the website of the Universal Postal Union in its «Philately» section that there are public denouncements known as circulars that are regularly published to advise of the existence of illegal postage stamps which are produced and distributed by private companies in the names of the countries concerned. We find that the majority of such countries are unfortunately African countries.

From the total of 53 countries that make up the African continent, we observe that the following 25 countries have public denouncements of illegal postage stamps published through the UPU (some countries published more than once):

1 - Angola, 2 - Benin, 3 - Burundi, 4 - Cameroon, 5 – Centrafrique, 6 - Comoros, 7 – Rep of Congo, 8 – Dem Rep of Congo, 9 - Côte d'Ivoire, 10 - Djibouti, 11 - Eritrea, 12 - Gambia, 13 - Guinea, 14 - Madagascar, 15 - Malawi, 16 - Mali, 17 - Mauritania, 18 - MoroccoWestern Sahara, 19 - Mozambique, 20 - Niger, 21 - Rwanda, 22 - Senegal, 23 - Somalia, 24 - Sudan, 25 - Tchad.

We found also that the following African countries have very doubtful so-called stamps in their names that look very much as illegal ones but for which we have yet to see a public denouncement: 1- Botswana, 2 - Burkina Faso, 3 - Gabon, 4 - Guinée-Bissau, 5 - Ecuatorial Guinea, 6 - Lesotho, 7 - Liberia, 8 – Sao Tomé-et-Principe, 9 - Sierra Leone, 10 - Tanzania, 11 - Uganda and 12 - Zambia.

This makes for a total of 37 African countries in the names of which illegal so-called postage stamps confirmed and suspected have been identified, whether a public denouncement has been published or not, in other words, almost 70 % or two-thirds of the African continent. This is a calamitous situation!!! That requires urgent and immediate action.

 We call upon fellow friends and collectors to seize the public authorities of the countries named above to call them to action against the devastation and denigration of the image of Africa through the large scale worldwide production and distribution and sale of illegal postage stamps that continues to spiral out of control.


For any information concerning illegal stamps, please send your comments and queries to the following

email address



Fight Against the Illegal Stamp Issues

The UPU's numbering system for postage stamps, WNS, on the Internet (Press release of the UPU)

(Berne, 1 October 2002)

The UPU’s World Association for the Development of Philately (WADP) has just published its numbering system (WNS) on the Internet.  The WNS website, which is freely available in English and French, can be found through the UPU’s website, www.upu.int (via the Philately page) or by going direct to the site at www.wnsstamps.ch.

Nine months after its launch on 1 January 2002, more than 100 postal administrations have signed up to the WADP’s stamp numbering system. The initiative aims to protect the interests not only of stamp issuing authorities but also of the philatelic market as a whole. Hence the full support given by all the member organisations of the WADP.

The numbering system applies to all postage stamps issued since 1 January 2002 by the stamp issuing authorities of the UPU member countries and their territories and dependencies that are affiliated with WNS. A unique WNS number (comprising the ISO 3166 alpha-2 country code, a serial number and the year of issue) is assigned to every postage stamp.  A stamp bearing the same design and denomination, whether produced in one or more formats (ie sheet, sheetlet, block, booklet, coil, self-adhesive sheet or roll, souvenir or commemorative sheet etc.) will be regarded as one stamp and will therefore have one WNS number. The scanned stamp, along with its relevant technical data (perforation, format, theme, etc.) is published in English and French on the WNS website.

The website therefore offers a centralized international registry that can be used as a powerful research tool by Posts, catalogue publishers, the specialist press and philatelists to check a member administration's stamps or research a particular theme. It should however be borne in mind that, while participation in the WNS is highly recommended, it is voluntary and stamps issued by a UPU administration that has yet to sign up to the System must not be assumed to be irregular or illegal. A drawback for those administrations that have not yet signed up is simply that their stamp issues will be absent from the WNS website, meaning a lost promotional opportunity, and possibly missing out on potential sales.

More information about the WNS can be obtained from the IB of the UPU, Mr. Jean-François Logette
Information about the illegal issues can be obtained directly from the IB of the UPU, Mrs. Maria Libera


Fight Against Illegal Issues

of Postal Stamps


    The Philatelic Webmasters Organization (PWO), a non-profit organization located in Switzerland, that counts at time over 350 members from all continents, was created in order to promote, support and develop philately through philatelic webmastering.

    The World Association for the Development of Philately (WADP) started in 1996 an action against the producing and the selling of the Illegal Stamps. The Illegal Stamps were defined by the General Assembly of the WADP, in its second meeting (6th of Oct. 2000), as: Illegal issues for territories which are not entitled to issue stamps and false stamps produced by fraudsters in the name of an issuing authority with the intent to defraud collectors.

    The Universal Postal Union, a member of the UN and of the WADP, is the organization that coordinates the fight against the illegal stamps. Consequently, it has published since 1996 an growing number of Circulars in which the postal administrations members of the UPU have denounced stamps that were illegally issued in their name or in the name of their territorial units.

   In the last years the philatelic business has considerably grown throughout the Internet. Some unethical sites and dealers, and sometimes uninformed sellers use the Internet to defraud the stamp collectors, by proposing for sale illegal stamps. The first victims are mostly the beginners in our nice hobby. Being mostly active on the Web, we created this subsite to allow for a better understanding of illegal stamps and to inform how to recognize and to avoid them. We can be easily reached by e-mail (please click here to send us a message - take out spaam form the e-mail address please).

    Developed by the Universal Postal Union (UPU) and the World Association for the Development of Philately (WADP), a WADP Numbering System (WNS) was introduced on 1 January 2002 with the aim of creating a database of all authentic postage stamps issued by UPU member countries and territories on or after that date.

    The PWO tightly collaborated from its very beginnings with the Universal Postal Union in the fight against illegal stamps. For this reason as well information about illegal issues as the UPU Circulars were published on a regular basis on the PWO site. The PWO, in direct concern with the International Bureau of the UPU in Bern, has dedicated the present subsite to the fight of illegal stamps.

    Because In the middle of the year 2003 the UPU started by publishing the UPU Circulars referring to illegal stamps on its own site, we didn't publish them on this site anymore, and we limited ourselves to provide (in the menu) links to the pages where they could be found. Unfortunately, these links get broken in the middle of the year 2009, this after the UPU site was redesigned. On 08/04/2010 we were assured by WNS (on which site the links are broken too) that access to the Circulars will be restarted toward the end of the month of August 2010.

Published: 10/08/2001. Revised: 08/08/2010.
Copyright © 2001 - 2010 by PWO and 
by Victor Manta, Switzerland.
All rights reserved worldwide.

Sites Showing/Selling Illegal Stamps

    A certain number of illegal stamps which are the subject of IB Circulars, distributed by the UPU at the request of its member countries, could and can still be found on the Internet sites listed below. We strongly advise all collectors to be wary of such "so-called stamps" and to double-check the authenticity of whatever they see on these sites.

  • Delcampe.com , Belgium

  • Marlen Stamp & Coin Ltd., NY, USA

  • Europhila Stamp Ltd., P.O. Box 1099, 3042 Kaunas, Lithuania, tel (+370-7)-2598-04. Source UPU.
  • BiStamp, a Belarus stamp company

Dealers Selling Illegal Stamps on eBay

Unfortunately, some dealers and collectors put up illegal stamps for auction on eBay and Delcampe to be sold to unsuspecting people. We remind that the eBay rules assert that sellers assume all responsibility for listing their items. For this reason we warmly  recommend to all dealers to check out on this site for the legality of their philatelic items before offering them for sale. We also suggest to all potential buyers to use the information provided on this site before bidding for contemporary stamps. 

The following sellers either were contacted by the Philatelic Web Watch or its readers, and they declined to answer or  to withdraw their offers or they have systematically offered illegal samps:

  • gambori, Location: California. Country: USA. Proposed illegals from: Russian Federation

  • excollectibles. Location: Manchester NH. Country: USA. Proposed illegals from: Angola. Also newer from Comoros.

  • lbphilatel. Wilmington, USA. Proposed illegals from: Angola.

  • pantonisse. Uden, Netherlands. Proposed illegals from: Rwanda.

  • henny48. Hong Kong. Illegals from Comoros.

  • ltsung, Ontario, Canada. Illegals from Niger, etc.

The readers are invited to send directly to the dealers that are selling illegal stamps an e-mail with the following contents:

Your  following ... lot(s) offer stamps ostensibly issued by XXXX (country name) but which, according to the International Bureau Circular number YYY of Month, Year, were produced without the authority of the Postal administration of XXXX. According to the UPU these are illegal stamps. We recommend you, in the interest of philately, to abstain in the future from this kind of activity, and we will inform the Philatelic Web Watch about eventual  future relapses.

Please send each time a CC e-mail  to us (remove "spaam"), and let us know in about a week if the dealer hasn't complied with the recommendations of the UPU.


  1. The sites listed here will be deleted from the list only when the owners/publishers will give concrete proofs that they have changed their policies in the domain of illegal stamps. 
  2. The PWO is determined to fight this plague that gnaws at philately. The PWO is representing here the wishes and hopes of hundreds of thousands of stamp collectors worldwide, and for this reason, any attempt to divert the PWO of this way is useless and will be reported on the PWO site.
  3. Please consider that we can only process denunciations that refer to illegal stamps, i.e. only to those listed as such by the UPU.
  4. Some philatelists have decided to put images of illegals on their sites, in order to fight against them. The PWO, following the position of the UPU,  finds that this isn't a good idea  (please see here for reasons) and consequently won't show images of illegals on its subsite.

Some reactions from sellers to whom we explained in personal e-mails why should they abstain in the future from such a doubtful commercial activity and from readers: 

  • "These "stamps" are being sold as collectibles not as postage stamps and I will report you to eBay for monitoring my auctions. Thank you. Mike H." Please click here for an explanation why such stamps aren't collectibles, but just illegals. Phil. Web Watch.
  • "Hi, I ended the auction and will refrain myself from posting it again in the future. You can remove my name from your site now, please. Thanks, X.Y." Thanks, X.Y., for your wise decision. PWW
  • Hello, Answering your message, I inform you that I had removed from my auctions all my series of stamps of Angola. As I keep the history of all my bids, I contacted the 6 buyers who had already bought from me such stamps. I proposed them a refund of their money  on the other purchases. Thanks for having warned me that these stamps were illegal. Very cordially, Jean-Marie.
  • I want to commend you for contacting "excollectibles" who sells illegal stamps on Ebay. I like the way he threatened you for monitoring his auctions! Please let me know what I can do to assist you. Erica.

From the Iinternational Bureau of the Universal Postal Union (Sept. 18, 2002)

I would like to this opportunity to express again our gratitude to the PWO for the assistance you are providing the UPU in watching out for the sellers of illegal stamps.

Maria S. Libera
Programme Manager, Markets Development
Directorate of Communications and Markets
International Bureau of the Universal Postal Union


Published: 08/24/2001. Revised: 07/27/2011
Copyright © 2001 - 2011 by PWO, Switzerland.


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