February 4, 2015 - Michele Woodburn

Fakes: Meant to Deceive!

Greetings Royal Friends and Followers,

What is the difference between a fake and a reproduction or a re-issue? The simple short answer is that a “Fake” is meant to deceive. A reproduction will usually be marked by the maker, and is usually labeled as a reproduction. A re-issue is when the original manufacturer uses the older mold or style to bring back an item that has either remained popular or regained popularity. Federal Glass re-issued their 1932 “Madrid” pattern in 1976 as “Recollection”. It was clearly marked with “76” in the pattern. (Indiana Glass acquired the molds after Federal Glass closed in 1979, and removed the “76” mark. Sooooo…how would you categorize that one?)

Sometimes even reputable dealers aren’t sure what they have. If an item is acquired from an estate, the original paperwork may not exist any more, or the family doesn’t know, or there are items in the household from now and back several generations. So how do you know if you have your hands on an original or a reproduction or a fake? You have to educate yourself if you want to collect. Sometimes you may not particularly care if the item is something you just love. Then you just need to determine if it is worth the price to you.

The biggest problem with an outright fake, is that it really does look like the real deal! Think about the stories you’ve heard about paintings in museums. If the museum’s expert can’t tell, the item may be listed as “attributed to” a specific artist rather than to make a claim that isn’t proven. Museums hire a bevy of experts to be sure they aren’t fooled, and even that is not foolproof. Remember the kouros from Thasos which came to the J. Paul Getty museum? (Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell) The statue had all of the correct papers, was brought to the Getty by a reputable dealer, was analyzed by stereomicroscope, electron microscope, mass spectrometer, and diffraction and fluorescence x-rays. It met all the standards and the Getty bought it. It turned out to be a fake. None of us are completely immune. The Getty took all the right steps. That, ultimately is our advice to you. When you aren’t sure, use the advice of the people you know and trust. Call on the expertise of those more familiar with the item. The bottom line is always, do you love it?

Our goal will be to let you know when we find something that you should be aware of. If you know of examples, or hear of a scam, let me know! I will be more than happy to look into it!

Ta Ta for now,

Her Studious Majesty, Queen Michele