Stamps under investigation
The below stamps need to be investigated further. Should you have a desire to play detective, feel free to work on one of these issues and send me your findings.
Central African Republic, 2012, 2014
Under investigation: These slick looking souvenir sheets appeared on Delcampe in late 2012/early 2013 from a known purveyor of suspect stamps. Whether they are fake or just excess stampage is unclear. It's highly doubtful in my opinion that these will be found to be valid releases, although one never knows. Until such a time that reputable dealers start carrying them or the Scott Catalog lists them, they will remain on this page and will not be purchased for my own collection. I highly recommend you to avoid purchasing these for now too.
Update: The Scott 2022 guide only lists stamps up to 2011. They likely haven't been able to verify what is and what isn't a stamp beyond this point due to the glut of excess stampage featuring the country's name.
Update: I found another sheet, this one dated 2014.
Guinea-Bissau, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2012, and 2013
Under investigation: I am 98% convinced this is illegal but keep the possibilty open that I am wrong. This stamp appeared on eBay about five months ago from a known dealer of fake stamps. Since then it has shown up on many dealers, particularly those who deal with counterfeit stamps, but also a few legitimate ones. This could just be an example of excess (but legal) stampage, as a whole mess of souvenir sheets with the same design were released for Guine-Bissau around the same time. But with Princess Diana, the Pope, the Red Cross, and a model T on the souvenir sheet, I remain extremely skeptical. This stamp was obviously designed collectors without any intention of being used locally, but the question of its legitimacy remains unanswered.
The Scott guide does not list Guinea-Bissau entries after 2000.
Update: A 2008 stamp of Princess Diana from a 6-stamp series. No idea if the set is valid or not. Probably not.
Update: A new set of Guinea-Bissau stamps has been released, of which one is an AIDS stamp. Ever suspicious, I have added it to this list pending resolution of this investigation.
Update: Another set from 2012. These have a better design and would actually be nice stamps. Guine-Bissau is plagued by excess stampage and fake stamps more than almost any country in the world though, so I'll continue placing their stamps on this list until the Scott Catalog indicates that they might be valid.
Update: As of 2022, the Scott Catalog has no stamps for Guinea-Bissau after the year 2000. Presumably a glut of excess stampage along with no response from the G-B postal service has made it impossible to determine what is valid and what is illegal postage. Also, I found a new Guinea-Bissau souvenir sheet about AIDS. This one stars Peng Liyuan, the wife of Chinese president Xi Jinping. One of the stamps features multiple AIDS ribbons.
Michel and Yvert have given the Diana stamp numbers 3954 and 2677. I generally won't list a stamp until it has a Scott number, so I'm holding out for now.
Scott 1322 (also Michel 1851-4 and Yvert 1476-9)
Under investigation: This souvenir sheet honors the 100th anniversary of the death of Louis Pasteur. The four stamps feature images of his work, but the virus in the lower-right could be a stylizedAIDS virus. During his life he created several vaccines including one for rabies (hence the animals in the upper-right), but the virus resembles none of them. Nor does the virus resemble an AIDS virus, although artists have taken a bit of license and used this sort of virus on AIDS stamps before (see Morocco 2006).
Atlhough Pasteur was long-dead by the time AIDS epidemic began, the AIDS virus was first identified by Dr. Luc Montagnier at the Pasteur Institute in France. This discovery would eventually win a 2008 Nobel Prize for Dr. Montagier along with Dr. Francoice Barre-Sinoussi.
The lower-left and right corners of the stamp both contain a bit of writing. One is probably the company that printed the stamp, the other is the graphic designer. I would love to get my hands on a better scan of this stamp so I could track down the graphic designer and ask him/her what the virus was intended to represent.
Sao Tome and Principe (St. Thomas), 2004, 2008, and 2009
Under investigation: I have no evidence to suggest this stamp is counterfeit, but my "spider senses" are tingling. This stamp is widely available. Too available. It's way more common than most African stamps are, so I'm thinking something may be up with this one.
Update: This issue is not in the 2011 Scott guide. Hardly surprising since they put out so many stamps that Scott has a nightmare of a time keeping up with them.
Update: More similar stamps from Sao Tome were released in 2008. Again, no confirmation these are valid postage.
Considering the absolute mess with the Sao Tome 2006 issue, we may never know the exact legal status on this one.
Update: A new 2009 Sao Tome stamp in question. I have added it to this discussion.
South Africa, 1998
Under investigation: This is a booklet of 10 South African stamps released on January 16, 1998. I do not know what the stamps look like, but on the cover of the booklet there is text about AIDS. The Michel number is 1115.
What Scott number is this? What does the cover look like? What is the catalog numbers of the inside stamps and are they AIDS related? Any answers to these questions would be greatly appreciated.
Togo has engaged in excess stampage resulting in the Scott Catalog cutting off their listings as of 2011. As a result there's an ongoing pile of Togalese stamps piling up. Don't let the first day covers fool you either - they're routinely created as a part of excess stampage and aren't actually canceled by country in question.
Aside from the slick graphic design on these stamps (which is quite common in excess stampage), the 2019 set of stamps and a souvenir sheet from Togo about Timony Brown as an interesting story about it. Brown is the first person ever cured of HIV. Yes, cured. It's a real. He was a leukemia patient who had an bone marrow treatment from a donor with a rare gene mutation that gives natural resistance to the AIDS virus. The transplant was partially successful. Without retroviral medication his T-cell count increased, and his HIV levels went undetectable. It didn't affect his leukemia so they a second transplant from the same donor. After that he began testing testing HIV-negative and his leukemia went into remission. Unfortunately the leukemia resurfaced again and he died from it in 2020.
One of the AIDS on Stamps readers sent an e-mail to the Togolese postal service inquiring if the pink Princess Diana sheet was an authorized release. They received an e-mail back stating it was. Make of that what you will.
These stamps are no longer under investigation.
Investigation Closed - It's a personalized stamp tab, albeit one with a special (and official) cancellation promoting it.
I found an article mentioning a possible AIDS stamp from Israel. In the associated poster, a woman is wearing a red ribbon pin on her shirt. The stamp was also released on World AIDS Day, so there may be relevant text as well. I poked around bit on the Internet, including the Israel postal service website, but was unable to find this stamp. Perhaps a stamp catalog will have more. Alternately, this may be a cinderella issue.
Update: Found this article from 2008 that makes reference to both a First Day Envelope and a stamp having been released. None of the websites I have visited that specialize in Israeli stamps have it listed though, so it may have been some sort of limited release or semi-postal stamp.
Update: I found the first day envelope.
To my eyes though, it doesn't look like a real postal stamp as much as some sort of cinderella. There does not appear to be any writing on the stamp indicating a country of origin, value, or year -- all of which are required for postal stamps. Nor does the stamp display an obvious message. The two women are HIV+ singer Achinuam Nini ("Noa") and Inbal Gur Arieh, an AIDS activist. I will continue to investigate.
Update: Friend-of-the-site Ricard continued the research from here. He e-mailed the Israel Philatelic Federation along with IsraAID (which is related to the Jerusalem AIDS Project (JAIP) that was the driving force behind this stamp). From what he learned, the flower stamp is a stamp with a blank tab besides it. Anyone can order a sheet of them featuring whatever image they'd like on the tab. JAIP put together this personalized stamp then worked wtih the main post office in Jerusalem to do a special cancel for World AIDS Day in 2003.
Sao Tome and Principe (St. Thomas), 2005
Investiation closed: The is an illegal issue. It has been moved to the Illegal Issues page. I'm keeping the below notes for future reference, although the final proof was a note in the Scott catalog. (See the illegal issues page for more information.)
I have found this stamp available on eBay by two vendors, both of which are affiliated with counterfeit stamps. The first vendor deals in 99.9% counterfeit stuff. The second in about 50%. So is this counterfit? I'm not sure. It's part of a set of stamps commemorating the 50th anniversary of Europa. The stamps are not particular sensational or collectable, so I'm not sure why a counterfeiter would bother creating them. The jury is truly out on this one.
Okay, found a bit more on this one. The printer of the stamps is Marino Montero International in the UK. They host a website about Sao Tome stamps claiming they are official and showing a reported contract between their company and the Sao Tome government. Unfortunately, the contracts are in Portuguese and I don't understand a word of them.
The website also contains some letters supposedly from the Sao Tome government to the various stamp guide companies stating that Marino-Montero is the official stamp printer of Sao Tome. If the Scott guide decides to accept their word for it, then that will probably be good enough for me. Now I just need to get to a library to check the latest Scott guide.
Update: This issue is not listed in the 2008 Scott guide. Will have to wait for 2009.
Another update: Stamp Scandal (update: website is no longer operational) maintains a semi-coherent set of rantings about corruption in the stamp industry, claims these are illegal. (Hint: It's in the midst of a long rant on Mozambique Europa stamps. There's a single paragraph in which he mentions these are allegedly illegal.) The website isn't very credible though, as it's semi-coherent at best and at one point the webmaster mentions having to take the down down for a while because thugs from the "Lithuanian Mafia" were after him.
Frankly, I doubt we'll ever know if these stamps are counterfeit or not. It semes to be one of those he said, she said kind of issues. Neither website is particularly credible. Montero's website features contracts, but they're not in English and even a legal contract doesn't mean he didn't violate the terms of the agreement (say, by printing more than the contracted number of sheets). Since Montero allegedly dealt with illegal stamps in the past, it's entirely possible he did just that. On the flipside, we've got a set of rantings mentioning they are illegal. Lord only knows what's up here.
Either way, they don't appear to be particularly legit. If they were, they'd be in the hands of mainstream dealers. Instead, they're being dealt by folks who are semi-credible at best. If you aren't the sort that just "must" have this stamp, you might be well to pass it by.