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Mather Counterfeit Cover

This simple black and white Mather Counterfeit Cover has an interesting history.  When the Mellone Catalog was originally published, it was not known who created the cachet and so it was listed in the catalog as "Designer Unknown."  Later, the designer was discovered to be Jerry P. Mather.  Mather was a dealer in first day covers during the late 60's and early 70s.  He soon became frustrated by the difficulty to keep some covers in stock and eventually decided to create his own counterfeit cancels and make them up as he needed them.

By the time he was discovered in 1979 by Adam K. Bert, then chairman of the American First Day Cover Society's expertising committee, he had created more than 100,000 counterfeit covers.  Most of these covers were recovered when he was arrested, but it is estimated that there are about 5000 of his counterfiet covers still in private collections.  It is not known if the example in my collection is a counterfeit, but all of his covers have become suspect.

Mather was indicted on seven counts of mail fraud and five counts of selling or possessing (with the intent to sell) counterfeit postmarks, Mather pleaded not guilty 10 days later.  Following some legal bargaining, he pleaded guilty to two counts only on January 2, 1980.  On January 28, the 40-year-old defendant was sentenced to three years in prison; however, all but three months were suspended.  Following his time in prison, Mather was to serve five years on probation.  He also was ordered to repay $11,800 he had received for one wholesale lot of approximately 40,000 covers.  In his own defense, Mather pointed out, "I felt I was supplying a need." +

The cachet features a man getting a medical checkup and the American Cancer Society's Seven Warning Signals of Cancer.  These signals are currently being downplayed by the Society.  It was determined that they were too simplified and gave people without these symptoms a false sense of security.  The signals, as they appear on the cover, are reproduced below for your convenience:


Unusual bleeding or discharge
A lump or thickening in the breast or elsewhere
A sore that does not heal
A change in normal bowel or bladder habits
Continuous hoarseness or cough
Persistent indigestion or difficulty in swallowing
A change in size or color of a wart or mole

 + Most of the above information about Mather's notorious career was obtained from the book, Philatelic Forgers: Their Lives and Works by Varro E. Tyler and published by Linn's Stamp News.

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