How Can You Tell The Difference Between Authentic Period Antiques Versus Fakes?

How can you tell the difference between authentic period antiques versus fakes? This question tells antique collectors how to spot the fakes from the real antiques. "Identifying authentic period antiques...

"Identifying authentic period antiques is a learning process and not something you just figure out immediately," says Claudia Reese, owner of 2nd Time Around Antique Mall in Twin Falls, Idaho, who has been studying, buying, and selling antiques for 20 years. "You are going to have to put some time into it if you want to get it right. Do research through reading reference books on antiques, visiting antique stores and shows, and watching television shows about antiques. An internet search can also yield many helpful websites," she adds.

First of all, realize that a reproduction in itself is not bad. Many people do not have the budget to spend on original antiques, but they can enjoy the look for a fraction of the price. That is fine, as long as they are aware they have purchased a reproduction that was priced accordingly. The problem arises when a new reproduction is touted as being something that it is not and priced as though it was an original antique.

Mark Chervenka, who is considered by many antiques experts to be the leading authority on fakes and reproductions, is the author of several reference books on this topic. In 1992 he began editing a monthly newsletter. This black and white printed publication ceased in 2004 and was replaced by an online website that gives full color pictures of hundreds of reproductions. Chervenka and his staff, along with assistance from a variety of collectors, dealers, and experts continue to maintain an online data base for subscribers with invaluable information about identifying fakes and reproductions in all collecting categories.

The website of the Association of Collecting Clubs (ACC) has links to valuable information provided by experienced collectors and dealers that are members of collecting clubs. Here you can see images of old and reproduction items side by side. You can also learn about fantasy items, which were things that were never made until recently. For example, a century ago a Minnesota company called Sleepy Eye Milling Company advertised with many pieces of blue and white pottery decorated with an Indian chief, but they never issued a cookie jar. All Sleepy Eye cookie jars are reproductions.

The ACC also recommends ordering catalogs from companies that specialize in antique reproductions so you can be familiar with what is being reproduced. They remind collectors that some of these companies have been in business for several decades and it is not unusual to find a reproduction that has been in the same family for two or three generations.

After you learn from books and websites, it's important to do some hands-on examination. Go to antique shops or malls, visit antique shows, and attend auction previews to examine items of interest to you. Carry a magnifying glass to assist you in seeing the details of items.

While you're examining the items pay attention to subtle clues. Even the best cared for sets of china dishes, for example, should have some wear where knives and forks came in contact with plates. There should also be some wear on the bottoms of plates where they were stacked in cupboards. Old wooden furniture, especially pieces with drawers, has a distinct aroma. And don't let the dust bunnies fool you. Even a new table or picture will have a heavy coat of dust if stored in an attic or basement for several years.

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