A colleague in Germany has been trying to find the origins of these forgeries. The following is based on his findings, as well as others who recall details of these events.
a) Where and when they were printed
They had been printed in the late 1980s (1987 or so) in Kaiserslautern, a medium-sized town located south-west of Frankfurt, by a printing house named "Gehringer". Its complete name up to 1996 was “Graphische Kunstanstalt Gehringer GmbH”, and now after two backruptcies it is known as "Printec GmbH". This company was in the auction catalogue business then, producing the high quality Kruschel and Boker catalogues. It may also have printed stamps (e.g. Mauritius, 1970). The then owner was a Dr. Niedermeyer, a well-known philatelist. It is not known if he is still alive today.
b) Who may have made them
They were attributed, according to newspaper reports of the time, to Peter Winter, an opera singer who lives in Bremen. As a sideline, Winter is the most prolific forger of modern times, printing and selling replicas of the world's most valuable stamps, including the British Guiana 1¢ Magenta of 1856 (see various <a href= target=_blank>articles in Linn’s Stamp News</a> through his companies, ProPhil Forum and House of Stamps.
c) The stamps that were faked
The fakes were mainly of German stamps, but Swiss, other European stamps and covers were also faked. For example, the "Marienkirche" was a very good fake, on cover with special cancel one day after day of first issue, as was the Swiss Lunaba-sheet. Others, such as Kontrollrat sheet 12 were easy to detect, but only by somebody who had previously seen an original.
d) Markings on the fakes
All the fakes were marked as such either on the front or the reverse. The markings on the front were printed during the same print run as the stamps, and you may see “FAUX” or “Stecherzeichen” below the stamp, where you would expect to find the name of the printing firm. Marks on the reverse include "Faux", "Facsimile", "Copy" or "Replik". The marks on the back can easily be removed with an eraser.
e) Where Heiner Faber fits into the story
Heiner Faber deleted these marks and exchanged the resultant unmarked fakes in return for shipments of stamps from customers. A fake-fighter sent a special shipment and caught him. Police raided his premises and confiscated stamps, the backs of which had had the “faux” marks removed, worth about 30 millions of Michel Marks (if genuine), so very few have since come onto the market. It is said that all the stamps were hidden in stamp books between genuine stamps to enhance the collections.
Faber had already been convicted of fraud in Bonn in 1985. He was not sentenced or was put on probation (not sure which), in spite of his previous convictions. Later on, he was sentenced for about 2 years, part (two-thirds?) of which he served. It seems that he was prohibited from returning to the stamp trade, and he is now believed to be working in the real estate profession.
f) The current batch of fakes – conflicting stories
i)These fakes have been and are still found in "untouched" collections sold through auction houses with a less solid reputation concerning the material they offer, such as "Götz".
ii)The fakes currently on auction sites are from the stocks that Peter Winter sold very legally. At present, they are not widespread. Those who offer them have not acquired them in collections, but from the source, and they know exactly what they are doing. It is very interesting that the fakes have found their way to the internet auctions, as they are now found only seldom in the “wonder boxes” at traditional auctions.
iii)It seems that Peter Winter <b>resold</b> items like the ones the Germans are
selling, but did not <b>make</b> them. Therefore they are not "Peter Winter"
forgeries, but simply ones he resold.
So perhaps they should be called Kaiserslautern or “Gehringer” fakes, till we know more……