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Europe/Germany : Used German definitives — CTO's or the real thing?

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17 Oct 2011
Edward Davies is currently offering these German stamps in the Stamporama auction (lot #143569):

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Ed describes the stamps as Cancelled To Order (CTO's). The Scott catalogue says that its evauation of used copies of these stamp is based on postal use; expertization is required to prove postal use, because the cancellations of CTO copies were made by ordinary cancellation hammers. I wrote to Ed to ask how he knew that they were CTO's rather postally used stamps. Here is Ed's interesting response:

"Hi, Bob. If they turn out to be postally used, the buyer of that lot would make a nice profit. I am in a stamp club here in Nevada and have discussed this matter re German CTO's/postally used?? and the best way for the average collector to discern whether these stamps were postally used is to see them on cover dtd accordingly. In saying they are CTO's I am taking the safe route. That is I don't know whether they are postally used or not and for most of these stamps (with some exceptions of course) it is not worth the effort to get them expertized. In many cases, you will note how they have been cancelled, often more than one cancel per stamp, which sounds like some postal workers stamped a whole sheet of them at once with overlapping cancels.

"As far as the gum issue is concerned, many of these stamps in my inventory (I have a 12 box inventory of German stamps), have gum and others don't. It would be very easy for someone to soak off the gum from CTO stamps like these and then try and pass them as postally used. These CTO stamps are not like modern CTO's from East Bloc countries etc where the cancel is usually on the corner of the stamps. In the case, of these 1921-1923 issues many of these stamps where hand cancelled CTO and that is where the difficulty lies in discerning CTO from postally used.

"To determine if any of these stamps (off paper) are postally used they would have to be expertized and for many of them the scv for postally used stamps does not justify the expense of having them expertized.

"I have a lot more stamps like this because my wife's father was a German stamp dealer who moved to NYC in the 1920's, and has passed away and left us all this inventory to sort through… I will sell the stamps as CTO because I don't know whether they came from CTO sheets or were actually soaked off ltrs. Some have gum and some don't.

"So the bottom line, is we don't know whether they were postally used but probably not. Remember that during the early 20's inflation was so rampant in Germany, that folks could not buy and use all the stocks that were printed since the dropping value of the RM made them obsolete for postage so rapidly."

Both Ed and I would appreciate any additional information about these stamps and their CTO usage.


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