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tline3open  Blatant Fakery

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Author Topic:   Blatant Fakery
swarter
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Posts: 2920
Registered: May 2003

iconnumber posted 12-25-2003 11:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for swarter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The matter of fakes and forgeries of early silver has come up more than once on these forums. There is currently being offered for sale on the internet a spoon ostensibly by John Burt. The spoon is dated by the seller as c.1800, which is correct by style, but which bears a full name mark of John Burt, who died half a century earlier, and thus could not have made the spoon. Neither does it appear that it has been remade from an older spoon. Comparison of the letters in this mark with photos of the original reveal that it cannot be from the genuine punch, even had the punch survived, but must be from an out-and-out forgery. John Burt is a well known and highly regarded silversmith, whose work is always viewed as desireable. His mark is among the more frequently forged, and this example is more readily identified as spurious than those previously claimed by Philip Johnston to be fakes. Forgers are often not familiar enough with the subject to avoid obvious mistakes, such as not knowing in whichperiods objects of certain styles were made.

The seller was notified on the day it appeared, but has not responded, amended his description, or cancelled the sale. It has not attracted much attention thus far -- so at the risk of rewarding a disbelieving or dishonest seller, it might be worth purchasing if the price remains low, just to get it out of circulation, as Hollis French used to do.

Because of Forum policy, no location of the item nor identification of the site or seller will be given at this time.

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Scott Martin
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Posts: 11377
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 12-26-2003 11:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here is an enlargement of the mark:

I think this looks like it could be an overstrike. What do you think?

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swarter
Moderator

Posts: 2920
Registered: May 2003

iconnumber posted 12-26-2003 01:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for swarter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think it is just a double strike (chattered) - if you look closely, there is a double line from the first strike along the left side of seversl letters, as well as along the left margin of the punch. I think this originally was an unmarked spoon, to which the false mark was applied. If you compare this mark with the photo in Kane of the original, close inxpection reveals that every letter is different, some more obviously than others.

Another mistake is that Burt used more than one punch -- this is a large mark, used only on hollowware and an occasional tablespoon; Burt usd only a small initial mark on teaspoons (which this one is).

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Melissa
unregistered
iconnumber posted 12-26-2003 02:27 PM           Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hello, This is one of Burt's faked marks as identified by the Cleveland Museum of Arts' Catalogue of American Silver, an invaluable book. I agree, this should be taken off the market if at all possible. (Perhaps the purchase could be used as a tax deduction if it was donated to a museum? Any knowledgable lawyers or CPA's out there?)

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Scott Martin
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Posts: 11377
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 12-27-2003 11:55 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I do/did see the bounce of the die or double strike.

I have an arrow pointing to something in the middle of the letter O in John. It kind of looks as if this is left over from another die impression.
Also I have highlighted an area that is different from the rest of the background.

This is partly what gives me the idea that it is an overstrike.

What do you think?

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swarter
Moderator

Posts: 2920
Registered: May 2003

iconnumber posted 12-27-2003 12:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for swarter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I am inclined to think that the imperfections in the background of the false mark are either from defects in the die or preexisting surface scars carried down from the original worn surface when the false mark was later applied. I have heard that there is a person, whose name I do not know, that owns several punches and buys unmarked spoons to use them on. I do not see the type of wear that should be in a mark of long standing, so I suspect that this one is relatively newly applied (although not necessarily by this seller).

Without the spoon in hand, it is difficult to make judgements that require close examination involving manipulation of lighting, etc. There is only so much information that can be gotten from a photograph, which can sometimes be misleading(and which can be readily altered on a computer, too). The lines you added to the photo do, however, do point up the iregularity of the letters.

Discussion of forgeries is a healthy thing, as it points up the pitfalls that await us all out there. There are a number of finer points that could be made regarding the recognition of this mark as a fogery, but to point these out would only serve to guide this or another forger to do it better next time. It is for this reason that many photographic reproductins of marks are not accompanied by measurements, as mismatch of size is one of the surest ways to spot a fake. I have no idea (besides an approximation from the size of the spoon) of the size of this fake, nor, for that matter, do I know the exact dimensions of the genuine one. That comparison would have to be made in hand against an authenticated example. The way in which the Brasher bowl recently treated in this forum was authenticated was ideal, but many would feel that such an effort/expense for a "mere spoon" is unwarranted except in the most exceptional of circumstances.

[This message has been edited by swarter (edited 12-27-2003).]

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Fitzhugh

Posts: 136
Registered: Jan 2002

iconnumber posted 01-07-2004 07:10 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fitzhugh     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A good friend in Tennessee has warned me of a potential new "Flood" of Southern coin silver forgeries he's now investigating. A forged MERRIMAN cup has already been detected. If anyone has additional information on fakes from the mid-South region, I'd appreciate hearing. If it's specific information, e-mail me directly, or let our moderator know prior to posting. Thanks!

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