Friday, April 3, 2009

“How Do You Identify a Fake?” - Daryle Lambert

Degas Schulpture - Thanks to

I am getting more and more inquiries about whether something is the real thing. My best answer is that you need to have the information on the real thing so that there isn't a doubt in your mind whether the piece you’re holding is real or not. Yes I hear you, how can I do that?

The best way is to have a library where there is information that gives you the facts needed to make these evaluations. Here is an example. Let’s suppose you find a Degas Sculpture but have questions about its authenticity. You would have no doubts if you had the Degas Sculptures book by Joseph Czestochowski and Anne Pingeot because all of the Degas pieces are listed in that book with their dimensions.

The same can be said of Still Banks. If you have a guide it will state the proper dimensions. Almost anything that you wish to add to your inventory has a book that will give you the accurate information so that you won't be fooled by the fakes and reproductions. Your question here should be, “But if they are fakes won't they have the same dimensions?” The answer is no and here is why.

Whenever items are cast they come from an original mold but the casting will always be a little smaller than the mold as it cools. This makes it nearly impossible to make an exact duplicate. The fakers make a mold by forming it from the original piece so the mold will be smaller than the original one since the piece that was molded shrank as it cooled. So now when they use that mold, the casting will be the same as the original, but as it cools it will shrink and its dimensions will be smaller than the real thing. So if you have the measurement of the real McCoy and the piece you find is smaller, most likely it is a fake. These differences can be as small as a quarter of an inch but that is enough to be the answer you are searching for. Even in glass, if the pieces are molded, the size will differ between the fakes and the real thing for the same reason.

I have discussed in past blogs the things to be aware of in your testing for fakes and reproductions such as roughness of the metal, painting that has no patina and the use of parts such as screws that weren't even made when the item was supposedly made. But the most important fact in identifying fakes will always be size and this can only be found when the original dimensions are available to you.

Be sure to be careful because a wrong purchase can set you back and remember, we only want to go forward. Once you are moving in high gear why would you ever want to slow down. It may take you a little time to be safe but it will prove to be well worth it.

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