GB Overprints Society

Channel Islands

When the German army occupied the Channel Islands, there were proposals in 1940 to overprint contemporary British stamps with swastikas to show the occupation; it is not known why they did not suggest overprints on German stamps. In Guernsey the essays were on the 1d definitive and the 2d stamp centenary stamp; in Jersey the essays covered all current King George VI definitives (the 11d and £1 had not yet been issued) and the stamp centenary set, in both cases excluding the 1d values which were completely sold out.

Note: this numbering system was drawn up by the Society for the website, and may not be used without permission.

King George VI


Essays, 1940

It is thought that no copies of these survive in private hands, if anywhere: OW Newport (Stamp Collecting 16 October 1969) reported a few copies found during a raid in Guernsey in 1940, but there is doubt whether any authentic examples still exist.

Guernsey 1d 2 mockups Guernsey 2d mock-up

Three mockups (facsimiles) of what the reported essays looked like (courtesy of eBay seller cregennan).

1 multiple swastikas on 1d dark red definitive

2 two swastikas on 2d orange stamp centenary (intended to be bisected)


Essays, 2 August 1940

Dark colours set and stamp centenary set, excluding 1d (sold out), 11d and £1 (not yet issued)

Almost all copies of the following on the open market are forgeries as all but a handful of odd values are in museum collections; it is alleged that only two complete sets exist in private hands (one was sold in 2006 for £10,000), and that both sets are damaged due to inadequate storage at the time. The 3 high values are not recorded in all sources, and no copies may have survived; OW Newport (Stamp Collecting 16 October 1969) reported that only 4 copies of each of the high values received the trial overprint, compared to 60 each of the low values and 40 each of the stamp centenary stamps.

Jersey essays, genuine, 200

This is an image of one of the genuine sets, auctioned in 2006. Image courtesy of Mark Bloxham. As can be seen, there is quite some damage to many of them, including considerable blue water staining, surface rubs, and short perfs.

1-13 swastika and "JERSEY 1940" on: ½d, 1½d, 2d, 2½d, 3d, 4d, 5d, 6d, 7d, 8d, 9d, 10d, 1/-

14-16 ditto on 2/6d brown, 5/- red, 10/- dark blue; it is reported that no copies of these survived.

Jersey Centenary essays, genuine, 200

This image too is of a genuine set, courtesy of Mark Bloxham as above; although each is damaged to some extent the vertical white stripes are not on the stamps but on the protector holding them when they were scanned.

17-21 swastika and "JERSEY 1940" on stamp centenary ½d, 1½d, 2d, 2½d, 3d

The proposal to use these overprints was rejected by the authorities in Germany, and few copies survive.

How to tell the difference between genuine and forged Jersey overprints

The easiest way is condition: if they are perfect they are undoubtedly forgeries. If they are cheap they are forgeries, but if they are expensive it may just be that the seller is unduly optimistic. It is not hard to see the differences between the genuine overprint and the most frequently offered forgeries:

Jersey genuine and forgery, 300

top - genuine. bottom - forgery.

The key point on the forgeries is the "S" which is noticeably narrower with a much shallower inset; the first "E" also has a longer middle bar with a downward sloping bottom bar, the "Y" is more splayed, the "9" is too large and aligns above the "4", and the "J" has a slight narrowing in the top 1mm or so and is further away from the "E". But overall the overprint is a very good approximation both in type and in layout. There may, of course, also be other types of forgeries with different distinguishing features but this difference appears to be constant on the commonest type.

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page last updated: 8 August 2006, 4 May 2009, 11 August 2012 

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