Using a projected image on the screen, David Beech opened his
lecture on the Grinnells by challenging the audience to say whether the 13¢ stamp was a genuine Missionary or a
Grinnell. Two people said it was genuine, two (including yours truly) said it was a Grinnell and the rest of
the 150 or so people attending said they could not tell. Personally, I observed all of the "a's" were too
uniform, unlike the genuine stamps. In fact, David posed a trick question. The image shown was the forgery
sold as a Grinnell in the Advertiser Sale so it was neither genuine nor a Grinnell. Red-faced, I conceded I had
personally examined the actual item last year and determined it to be a "fake Grinnell" and the owner agreed
with my conclusion. At least I could tell the stamp in the image was a forgery!
David's point was to open his theme for the lecture. He urged
those interested in the issue to recognize they knew little about the Grinnells and to keep an open mind. In
the audience were the owner/descendants of the Grinnell and Shattuck families. Also in the audience was
Patrick Pearson, chair of the Royal Philatelic Society of London Expert Committee, and thus the person with
primary responsibility for leading its effort to determine whether the Grinnells are genuine. Others in the
audience included many pillars of the American philatelic community. David's message was an effort to persuade
people they don't know much about the Grinnells and to build confidence in whatever decision is reached by the
Anyone expecting David to reveal inside knowledge of the
Committee's thinking was disappointed. Apart from his main theme, his topic was to discuss the history of how
the Grinnells came to the RPSL and a status report of progress. He predicted a decision will be announced
early next year. Oddly, David issued a call for anyone who owns Missionaries to make them available to the
Expert Committee for examination. Coming so late in the process and with no plan for publicizing the
announcement, the notion lacked a degree of sincerity.
To me, the most important point in the lecture was David's
acknowledgment that the typography, postmarks and cancels seen on the Grinnells are unique to the Grinnells.
That point was the essential fact I proved in Post Office in Paradise. It now seems there is unanimous
agreement that the Grinnells are unlike any genuine Missionary and the postmarks and cancels are found on no
other stamps or covers. During the question and answer phase, I asked whether any study had been made of 1851
or earlier printed material emanating from Hawaii to identify the same typeface used in the Grinnells. David
said no such study had been done by the Expert Committee. I reported I had found none.
Three actual Grinnells were on display along with Missionaries in
the NPM collection. We were permitted to examine the Grinnells in their glass cases. I had no opportunity to
examine them closely and could not see their backs. None of the three Grinnells bore a circular date stamp but
two had the cork circular grids. My own examination, such as it was, confirmed the typography comments made in
Post Office in Paradise.
In an unfortunate moment, David accused the American expert
community of being biased against the Grinnells. In his effort to explain, the notion of "bias" became
confused. In essence, what David said is that the American experts already believe the Grinnells are forgeries
and appear unwilling to spend their time to listen to opposing arguments. The RPSL, on the other hand, decided
to put aside its preconvictions, wipe the slate clean and start the whole process at the beginning. While that
willingness may give solace to some, being a trial lawyer I more or less follow the Johnnie Cochran notion of
expertising. To paraphrase: "If the type don't fit, you must reject." If the same typeface is known from
other publications emanating from Hawaii in or before 1851, then my mind can open up to consider other facts.
Until then, whether you call it bias, common sense or knowledge, I think the Grinnells are forgeries. Whatever
anecdotal evidence or speculation one offers to explain the differences in the Grinnells fails to overcome the
showstopper fact that the typeface on the Grinnells was unavailable in Hawaii in 1851.
All in all, most people who attended the Lecture learned a great
deal about Grinnells and Missionaries. For the few who were already informed, there was nothing new. However,
I was able to meet with the owner/descendants and discuss my opinions with them. They are nice people and
cannot be faulted for wanting to do everything possible to establish their property as genuine. I also talked
at length with Patrick Pearson who enjoys an international reputation as a premier stamp expert. He was also
pleasant but as tight-mouthed as any trial judge I have met. Happily, he showed a complete awareness of the
Grinnell discussion in Post Office in Paradise.
A booklet was distributed at the Lecture and probably can be
obtained from the National Postal Museum. It's on-line address is