|A Suspecious Item at the International Stamp Exhibition Singapore 2004
I took the photo shown to the right at Singapore 2004 on which the (now late) exhibitor, Constantin Mattheos (Greece) describes one of his items:
"A folded cover from Copenhagen, Denmark, mailed on 22 September, 1863, franked with two examples of 4 SK. (23 Lepta), single rate up to Hamburg for transit to Athens via Trieste. On arrival in Athens, 100 Lepta further charge was levied by addition of 20 Lepta, blue, and 80 Lepta, rose carmine, provisionals (fine) in order to cover the postage from Hamburg to Athens. Both Greek stamps are cancelled by diamond dotted "1" (Athens). On the back, Hamburg, Trieste transit and Athens arrival cds (19 Sept. 1863). This is the only known combination cover Denmark-Greece. A spectacular cover."
At the bottom of the page: "Note: Greece until 1922 used the Julian calendar in which date show a time lag of 12 days, as compared with Gregorian calendar reconing."
I was a judge and the Danish commissioner at this International Stamp Exhibition "Singapore 2004". I saw the cover and noticed that the calendar statement was pretty wrong. (I have written about calendars: (https://norbyhus.dk/calendar.php) which has been visited more than 700.000 times in the period 1995-2022!). Another matter was that I could not remember to have seen such a misc franking of Danish and Greece stamps before so I was interested in getting a little more knowledge about the cover's story.
When I took some photos of the cover/page, the owner (Constantin Mattheos, Greece) contacted me and asked why I was interested in the cover. I told him that he was wrong about his calendar explanation but strange enough he was certainly not interested in my explanation - but that's his problem, not mine.
Mattheos' incorrect Information about the Greek Calendar: The Change over from Julian Calendar to Gregorian Calendar in Greece took place in 1923 (not in 1922 as Mattheos wrote) where the last Julian day was 15 February 1923 and the following day was 1st of March 1923 (according to a Decree from 18 January, 1923, published in the Greek National Gazette on 23 January 1923. (See https://norbyhus.dk/calendar.php, Scheme 1.2. Gregorian Calendar Reforms). Furthermore the time lag in the period when the letter was sent, was 13 Days (and not 12 as Mattheos wrote).
I contacted Anthony "Tony" Virvilis, a good Greek friend of mine and - as I - a former member of the FIP-literature Commission, and he told me: Costantin Mattheos was a lawyer (born 30 November 1937 and died 12 November 2017). At Capex 1996 his collection of the first Greek stamps was awarded Grand Prix d'Honneur.
But there seems to be some problems with the cover
Also Claes Arnrup, CEO at the auction house Postiljonen AB in Sweden, told me about Mattheos' book. Arnrup (who is also First Vice-President of the "Club de Monte-Carlo" and a Commissioner at MonacoPhil 2022) told me that the cover in question was exhibited at MonacoPhil 2002 and was during and after the exhibition discussed by philatelic experts: Frank Banke and Carl Aage Møller (Bundesprüfer) and Karsten Jensen, Aalborg. They all concluded that it is a manipulated cover.
The two Danish 4 Sk. Stamps
The Danish Postmark "SJ.JB.P.SP.B." (SJællandske JernBanes PostSPeditions Bureau)
According to Karsten Jensen's Danish UBT (in Danish: "Udenrigsbrevposttakst": "Foreign Letter Rate-Table" of 1 June 1861): At that time a letter could be sent to Greece EITHER fully franked OR unfranked (without stamps so the receiver had to pay the total postage of letter). PARTLY franked was not allowed cf The UBT of 1 June 1861.
According to UBT of 1 June 1861: Danish postage 2 Sgr (Silvergroschen) = 9 DK Sk. + German/Austrian - postage 3 Sgr. + foreign postage from Trieste to Greece 5 Sgr. = 35 Sk. - manuscript "35/9" in the lower left corner, and which was to be paid in cash = 9 Sk. + 35 Sk. = 44 Sk.: Written in the upper right corner.
The "missing" Danish stamps
Frank Banke saw the letter at Monacophil 2002 and that it was shown in one of
the books published for each Monacophil exhibitions and concluded that it was manipulated.
Patrick Maselis (President of the Club de Monte-Carlo de l'Elite de la Philatélie), when I asked for a scan of the back of the cover - eventually from the book that had been withdrawn: "That's unfortunaly impossible. Beware. Nobody owned more fakes and forgeries than Mr. Mattheos... ".
Chris King (former president of the Royal Philatelic Society London): "The Danish cover was originally in the mentioned book, but was removed as being doubtful together with many others before publishing. "The Royal" eventually published Mattheos' book in 2011. It was not very well received by Greek experts who considered that there were still other manipulated covers shown.
"The Royal" stopped selling the book, except by special request, and it took some years for the furore to die down. Mr. Mattheos was very unhappy about this. He died in 2017, and there the matter rests. He was either unwise in many of his purchases, or too certain of his own judgement. In either case, it was a sorry episode. I had to deal with some of the problems that were caused by the publication".
What happened to Mattheos' material?
Thanks for help and discussion
Toke Nørby - 01.02.2023