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Expertising rules

of the Bund Philatelistischer Prüfer

As at 15.07.2014

1. General
2. Legal nature of business relations
3. Tasks and duties of the expertiser
4. Scope of expertising
5. “Signing”, short findings and findings
6. The marking of genuine expertised items
7. The marking of forged expertised items, items than cannot be expertised
8. Processing the request for expertising, obligations of the submitter
9. Liability of the expertiser and extent of liability
10. Expertisers’ entitlement to payment
11. Statute of limitations
12. Place of fulfilment and court of jurisdiction
13. Additions to the expertising procedure
14. Final provisions

Special rules

German Reich Michel Nos. 31-52
German Reich Michel Nos. 53-97
Inflation period
German colonies
Second World War – Field Post stamps and Field Post in general
Soviet Zone (SBZ) OPD issues Michel Nos. 1-165
Soviet Zone (SBZ) Local handstamps Michel Nos. 166-181, I-IV
German Democratic Republic

1. General

The members of the Federation of Philatelic Expertisers e. V. (“expertisers”) are on hand as philatelic experts in their respective specialist fields to carry out philatelic expertising. Their task is to determine the genuineness and state of preservation of stamps, postal markings or other philatelic items and the detection of forgeries and faking of items submitted for expertising. In all their expertising activities the BPP experts use philatelic definitions that are published, in their current version, on the Internet at or

2. Legal nature of business relations

2.1. The legal relationship between expertiser and submitter follows these expertising rules. In addition to these expertising rules the provisions of the civil code on purchasing (§ 675 BGB) and contract law (§ 631 et seq. BGB) apply, insofar as certain provisions are not excluded by the nature of the expertising contract.

2.2. Before the first expertising contract is made, the submitter confirms in writing his acceptance of the validity of the expertising rules, also any special arrangements that exist for certain areas. These special arrangements may be requested from the respective expertisers. The initial acceptance of the expertising rules also applies to all future expertising contracts between the expertiser and the submitter, until such time as written notice is given. If this acceptance is fully or partially denied, the expertiser is to refuse the expertising contract.

3. Tasks and duties of the expertiser

3.1. The task of the expertiser is to give an opinion in the form of a “signing” (that is, the application of an expertising mark), short findings, findings or attestation. The result of the opinion can also be a statement from the expertiser that an expert opinion on the item being expertised cannot, in whole or in part, be given with sufficient certainty. The opinion is given impartially and in accordance with the best available knowledge and belief. The expertiser may, should the need arise, give an opinion in a different form from that desired by the submitter – deciding for himself whether the opinion be given as a “signing”, short findings, findings or attestation. If the submitter expressly rejects the decision of the expertiser regarding the form of the expertisation confirmation, the expertiser is entitled to refuse to accept the item or to withdraw on valid grounds from an already approved application. There is no entitlement to a specific result desired by the submitter.

3.2. The expertiser may, after checking the content of the task, refuse wholly or partially the expertising request and its scope without giving any reasons. In this case, he is required immediately to notify the submitter of the rejection. At the request of the submitter the expertiser is also obliged to inform the Board of Directors of The Federation of Philatelic Expertisers e.V. of the reasons for the rejection of the expertising request.

3.3. If the expertiser cannot check the content of the expertising request and execute this within a period of two months (for type expertisations within a period of three months) after receipt of the expertising request, the expertiser should give the submitter an intermediate notification indicating the approximate completion time. This intermediate notification is carried out without checking the contents of the request and represents no acceptance of the request.

The expertising request should be accepted and executed or rejected within four months (for type expertisations within six months), if nothing else is agreed upon. Any reminders regarding delay must be given by the submitter in writing.

3.4. The expertiser gives his opinion personally. Insofar as it is necessary and appropriate, and remains the responsibility of the expertiser, the expertiser may enlist the help of expert third parties in making an assessment.

4. Scope of expertising

4.1. Postage stamps and items relating to their manufacture, issue and usage, also war and propaganda stamps/forgeries are subject to expertising. Other items may not be “signed” or given attestations.

4.2. Expertisation covers the genuineness, in all respects, of the item expertised (such as the types of separation, gum, overprint, cancellation) and the state of preservation/quality (defects, repairs, embellishments and other changes). The work of the expertiser may include the classification of the item expertised according to the type of printing, watermark, kind of separation, colour, perforation and paper as a special consideration in accordance with Paragraph 10.4, insofar as these are given in catalogues relevant to the area of expertising. The colour of an expertised item as given in the catalogue may cover several shade differences. These are usually due to different mixtures of the ink. They may also be caused by chemical or physical influences (such as so-called colour variations due to varying ink saturation, causing a lighter or darker appearance). Expertised items in transitional or borderline colours may not clearly be associated with a particular colour. Also, the identification of an expertised item as being of a specific colour in the catalogue may always be influenced by subjective assessment. The expertiser will usually determine the colour visually. The use of lavish or very expensive procedures, such as spectroscopic analysis, spectrophotometry, fluorescence microscopy or chemical methods, is not the purpose of the colour identification.

4.3. Further observations, such as plate errors, non-catalogued subtypes and varieties, cliché characteristics, as well as valuations are not the task of the expertiser. So far as he wants to take on this work, he is entitled to charge, by prior agreement, an additional expertisation fee.

4.4. The expertiser is entitled, for the necessary and usual studies in carrying out the process of expertising, to place loose stamps, in particular, in cold or warm water or non-sensitive items in a bath of benzine. The expertiser is not required to detach stamps from covers or pieces.

5. Attestation, short findings and findings

5.1. The submitter may be supplied, at additional cost, with an attestation, findings or short findings – each with a coloured illustration of the item expertised (Section 10.5). On these being issued, the expertised item will be marked only if this is necessary for its identification. The illustrations are secured against tampering with an embossed seal. Attestations, findings and short findings are written in the German language; they are legally valid only in this form. There can be no claim based on their representation in a different language. The expertiser is, however, entitled in return for reasonable compensation to provide a translation.

5.2. Attestations and findings include confirmation of the genuineness and the required description of the expertised item and its condition/quality. Findings will normally be issued for an item with a MICHEL catalogue value of from 250 euros and attestation issued in the case of a MICHEL catalogue value of from 500 euros.

5.3. Short findings conform to Paragraph 5.2 in a standardised form for an expertised item, normally for an item with a MICHEL catalogue value of from 150 euros. In the case of genuine expertised items the submitter may instruct the expertiser to issue short findings, even if the MICHEL catalogue value is under 150 euros, against a separate calculation (Section 10.5) and to refrain from “signing”.

5.4. Stamps with “specimen” overprints, proofs, essays and similar items will receive an attestation, findings or short findings (the previous practice of marking these expertised items in the middle of the lower edge is discontinued).

5.5. In the case of earlier attestations, findings or short findings presented with the item expertised, if these are inaccurate the expertiser may add a note on the result of his examination.

6. The marking or “signing” of genuine expertised items

6.1. In the case of items found to be genuine, the expertiser may mark these on the back with his expertising mark in the position described in Paragraph 6.5. The mark includes the name of the expertiser and the addition “BPP”.

6.2. With multiples of postage stamps, the expertiser may apply his expertising mark on each stamp.

Se-tenant stamps are marked over the stamps or the empty fields, advertising, diagonal crosses, etc. In addition the left-hand stamp (for horizontal se-tenant strips) or the lower stamp (for vertical se-tenant strips) are marked as shown in Fig. 1A and 1B and 2A and 2B (Paragraph 6.5.) with the proviso that the position of the mark must reflect the quality of the entire se-tenant multiple.

6.3. Stamps on piece are signed on the back of the paper to which they are affixed.

6.4. Covers are usually not signed, except according to Paragraph 5, unless of course, they are inferior.

Non-postally used as well as incorrectly franked covers may be marked, along with pieces of covers. The expertiser is entitled to open the cover to apply the mark.

6.5. The marks will basically be applied in indelible black ink as follows:

Figures 1 A and B

Stamps that remained imperforated are marked as perforated stamps.

Items expertised that are damaged, repaired or embellished and unused stamps without gum or with altered gum receive the mark depending on the degree of deficiency, placed higher (Fig. 2 A). Items expertised that are severely damaged or repaired are marked more highly, up to the middle of the stamp (Fig. 2B).

Figures 2 A and B

6.6. Low-value items are not usually marked. A mark is not applied when a low-value expertised item can be confused with stamps of higher value. These expertised items may be classified with type-marks without the personal mark of the expertiser.

6.7. Expertised items with contemporary postmarks that were applied for philatelic purposes are treated as other commercially used expertised items.

6.8. Official or unofficial reprints will receive the mark “Neudruck” = Reprint or “Nachdruck” = Reproduction applied to the back of the stamp in the middle of the lower edge. Private reprints or facsimiles are not marked. Products manufactured in an unauthorised manner or with fraudulent intent from genuine or forged printing plates are to be treated as forgeries.

6.9. In the expertising area “German inflation”, for historical reasons the following special regulations are in use for marking: the signing of used expertised items that are in all parts genuine is done additionally by the circular mark “Echt – INFLA-Berlin ” or the rectangular mark “Echt – im Block geprüft – INFLA-Berlin ” to confirm the genuine, contemporary cancellation. 

7. The marking of forged expertised items, items that cannot be expertised

7.1. Forged and faked expertised items are given the mark “falsch” and the expertising mark applied diagonally, to stamps in the middle of the back; pieces and covers are marked additionally on the front next to the stamp, cachet or postmark.

7.2. Genuine, but incorrectly cancelled expertised items (forged or faked postmarks) receive the “Stempel falsch” mark and the expertising mark applied diagonally, to stamps in the middle of the back; pieces and covers are marked additionally on the front next to the stamp, cachet or postmark.

Stamps with faked gum receive in the middle of the back the mark “Gummi falsch” and the expertising mark applied diagonally

7.3. Forgeries intended to deceive the postal service, espionage forgeries and similar products intended for the prepayment of postal items do not receive an expertising mark, but are treated in accordance with Paragraph 5.

7.4. The expertiser is entitled and obliged to mark forgeries clearly visibly and indelibly. Existing incorrect attestations, findings or short findings are to be marked accordingly. Exceptions are allowed only within the framework of the published special BPP expertising rules.

The submitter hereby expressly agrees to this.

7.5. If the expertiser cannot, using all reasonable inspection methods available to him, and taking into account the competent standards of philatelic research relevant to his field of expertisation, confirm with any certainty the genuineness of the expertised item or the existence of a forgery or faking, he may return the expertised item without applying any mark, with the note that a clear result of the expertisation was not possible.

8. Processing the request for expertising, obligations of the submitter

8.1. The items to be expertised are to be submitted as clean, loose postmarked stamps in a paper- and crease-free state, with a list or copy of the items submitted for expertising

8.2. The submitter is obliged to inform the expertiser of all the circumstances known to him which might lead to an error in assessment. In particular, any existing expertisations, the results of preliminary examinations, errors, repairs, reperforations or regumming of the item expertised are to be shown, also any existing findings or attestations. The submitter is also obliged to inform the expertiser if there are other examples of the item to be expertised, from a divided or as yet undivided multiple such as a sheet of stamps or part sheet. In the event of a culpable breach of the obligations to the expertiser incumbent on the submitter, the submitter is obliged to recompense the expertiser for the resulting damages. In addition, the submitter is obliged immediately to inform the expertiser of any faults or defects in the opinion, to give him the opportunity to make a possible correction to the opinion.

8.3. The risk for conveying the item to be expertised to and from the expertiser is borne by the submitter. The submitter is to choose a method of dispatch which confirms delivery of the item to be tested against the signature of the expertiser or his agent (such as registered post, signed-for post etc.). A method of dispatch, however, by which the postal service provider certifies the delivery into a letter box (express delivery etc.), does not provide evidence of delivery. The submitter is free to arrange his own insurance for the item to be expertised.

9. Liability of the expertiser and extent of accountability

9.1. The expertiser shall be accountable according to these expertising rules and the legal provisions for expertising correct at the time of expertising, and the state of philatelic knowledge and experience regarding expertisation.

9.2. The expertiser shall be accountable to the submitter for simple negligence in regard to determining the facts underlying his examination and the respective state of philatelic knowledge.

The allocation of an expertised item to a specific colour as given in the catalogue is done by the expertiser according to the best of his knowledge and belief. The liability of the expertiser does not extend to determining the classification in transitional and border areas of colour designation (see Paragraph 4.2 of the expertising rules), especially as these are liable to subjective criteria. In the case of simple negligence the expertiser is not liable for infringement of insignificant contractual obligations. The above limitation of liability applies to claims arising on legal grounds asserted against the expertiser by the submitter or by third parties on the basis of the expertisation.

If the submitter or a third party suffers damages and the expertiser shall be liable to the submitter or third party for simple negligence, the liability will be limited to the value of the item examined at the time of the expertising, if it is assessed incorrectly as forged or in poor condition. If the item expertised is incorrectly assessed as genuine or in good condition, the liability is confined to the value, at the time of expertising, of a genuine or well-preserved example of the item submitted for expertising. Loss of profits, even after increases in value occurring after the expertising was done, cannot be refunded. The requirements of § 310 Paragraph 1 of the BGB exist, so the above limitation of liability shall also apply in the case of grossly negligent behaviour by the expertiser or his agent.

Insofar as the expertiser shall be liable to a third party in such a case, this liability does not apply to the third party who has limited or excluded liability in the disposal chain between the submitter and the third party, or between third parties; he would have ceded any claim to warranty

The expertiser is not liable for any applicable “signing” without the consent of the submitter. An expertising mark accidentally placed in the wrong position does not lead to liability of the expertiser. In this case the expertiser will issue free of charge short findings, findings or an attestation, on which the incorrect marking is correctly done.

9.3. The limitations of liability mentioned in Paragraph 9.2. do not apply to any injury to life, body or health of the submitter attributable to the expertiser.

9.4. Insofar as the expertiser is liable to third parties according to the expertising contract, the claims against him do not extend beyond the claims of the submitter himself. The limitations of liability set out in the expertising rules also apply to the third party.

9.5. If after completion of the expertisation the expertiser comes to the realisation that the initially stated result of the expertising is incorrect, the submitter is obliged to allow a correction to be made by the expertiser by submission of the expertised item and the attestation, findings or short findings to the office of the expertiser. The same applies in the case of a compensation claim. This obligation shall not apply if the submitter is neither owner nor holder of the subject of the expertisation. The original test result must remain visible.

9.6. Any liability of The Federation of Philatelic Expertisers e.V. for its members acting as expertisers is excluded.

9.7. If the conditions for the processing of claims for damages from the expertiser are met, then the expertiser can at his discretion provide a replacement item of equivalent value or compensation in cash.

9.8. The submitter is obliged to do everything possible to reduce the occurrence and the amount of loss (§ 254 BGB). In case of its occurrence through a third party, the submitter shall indicate this immediately to the expertiser.

10. Expertisers’ entitlement to payment

10.1. The expertiser makes a charge for his services, also for new or repeated expertisation.

10.2. If nothing else is agreed the charge will be up to 4% of the relevant MICHEL catalogue value, or if it is not possible to determine this, up to 10% of the sale value, which the expertiser may assess at his reasonable discretion. In such a case, the parties may mutually establish the charge made for expertising on the basis of an individual agreement prior to the conclusion of the expertisation.
Typically, the minimum charge for each expertisation is €25. The minimum charge for each individual stamp submitted is €3, for each cover or part cover €5, even if no expertising mark is made.

In the case of part covers and covers with more than three different stamps, an additional standardised charge may be calculated, at €1 per stamp.

10.3. The charge for identifying forged or faked expertised items is up to 1% of the MICHEL catalogue value in accordance with Paragraph 10.2, or if this is not ascertainable, up to 2.5% of the sale value of similar, genuine expertised items, the value being determined by the expertiser with reasonable discretion. The minimum charge for each expertisation and each single expertised item according to 10.2. remains unchanged.

If it is not possible to give a definite opinion on an item subjected to expertising, only the minimum payment in accordance with Paragraph 10.2 must be charged, unless the expertiser makes greater efforts.

10.4. For particularly time-consuming and difficult tests, the expertiser may require an additional charge to be agreed upon in writing. This also applies to the identification of expertised items according to printing method, type, watermark, kind of separation, colour, perforation and paper.

10.5. The additional charge for the issuing of an attestation is €20, for findings €10, for large-format short findings €8 and for small-format short findings €5. The additional charge does not apply for individual items expertised for which the expertisation charge without a payment for the attestation amounts to over €150 (excluding VAT).

10.6. Payment is due on receipt of the bill for expertisation at the submitter’s premises. It may be paid by cash on delivery.

10.7. In addition to the remuneration the expertiser calculates his dispatch, insurance and packing costs, as well as, if necessary and they are subject to tax, VAT.

10.8. The expertiser may require an advance payment of the amount of the expected charge including dispatch. If no advance payment of the charge is made, and this is not collected by cash on delivery, the expertiser may withhold the expertised items until payment of his bill is made.

10.9. The submitter may only offset claims against payment to the expertiser if his alleged counterclaim is undisputed or legally ascertained.

11. Statute of limitations

Claims by the submitter because of defective fulfilment of the agreement, as well as claims for damages against the expertiser, regardless of the legal reason, lapse in the case of simple negligence of the expertiser or his agents at the latest after one year, insofar as a shorter statute of limitations is not stated in the statutory provisions. The beginning of the period of limitation depends on the statutory provisions.

The foregoing extent of the limitation period does not apply in the case of injury to life, body or health of the submitter attributable to the expertiser.

12. Place of fulfilment and court of jurisdiction

12.1. If the submitter has no general place of jurisdiction in Germany or if he has moved his domicile or normal place of residence out of the country, or if his domicile or normal place of residence at the time of the proceedings is not known, the expertiser’s residence is the place of jurisdiction.

If the expertiser has no general place of jurisdiction in Germany or if he has moved his domicile or normal place of residence out of the country, or if this is not known, the seat of the Federation of Philatelic Expertisers e.V. is exclusively the place of jurisdiction.

12.2. If the submitter is a dealer, a legal entity under public law or Special Fund public law, the residence of the expertiser is the place of jurisdiction, insofar as it exists at the time of the proceedings in the Federal Republic of Germany.

12.3. Subject to the Paragraphs 12.1 and 12.2. the place of fulfilment for all parties is the residence of the expertiser.

12.4. The law of the Federal Republic of Germany shall apply in regard to the legal relationship between the expertiser and his submitters.

13. Additions to the expertising procedure

Due to historical circumstances and peculiarities of the expertising area, special rules exist which complement the expertising rules for individual areas of expertising. These are also to be acknowledged according to Paragraph 2.2 of the expertising rules.

All special rules are published in their current valid form on the Internet ( or and can be requested from the relevant expertiser.

14. Final provisions

Should individual provisions of these expertising rules be or become ineffective, the validity of the remaining provisions is not affected.

These expertising rules enter into force with their publication in the Internet ( or on 1 July 2003.

Changes were adopted on 01.05.2004, 30.04.2005, 29.04.2006, 21.04.2007, 02.05.2009, 29.05.2010, 21.05.2011, 05.05.2012, 20.04.2013 and 17.05.2014. The latter apply as of 1 July 2014. The previous changes came into force on 1 July of the relevant years 2004 to 2009 and 2012 to 2013 01.07, or August of the years 2010 and 2011.