Pg.25, Vol. XXII, No.4, 1988, “Prehistoric Artifacts”
I never cease to be amazed at the crassness of the dishonest purveyor of Fake material. We set up a display of spurious material at the 9th annual Owensboro show and we had a large number of persons who took special interest in the items shown, learning the difference between authentic and reproductions. Some supposedly knowledgeable persons asked if they could buy some of the fakes. Would they have displayed them as fraudulent? Would they have sold them as real? Then of course no is not always a good answer for some. We had a 5″ Dovetail of Gray Hornstone on display that ruined the interest of a Kentucky collector and it was donated to the display. Mid afternoon, someone stole this reproduction while the host back was turned on Saturday afternoon!
This show was also informative to another degree as one of the major Fake dealers visited the display and stated to the public that he and his factory had made and sold many of the more expensive frauds on display. He claimed that 8 full time stone workers were producing goods for the marketplace!
One of the most devious entrapments today is the precise reproduction of well documented artifacts. Often times through death, a collection is removed from the market and put in storage while the estate is probated. Many times the heirs themselves have no knowledge of artifacts.
Then later on the collection is consigned for sale and stored again. Often years pass before the collection is re-examined and sold. I have noted several times that someone produced duplicates of the originals and those were the items that became part of the public sale. These instances allowed for the removal of the original labels and information to be exactly duplicated and placed on the copies. Obviously, because these items are high dollar specimens, the very best reproductionists can be engaged to make very exacting copies. You say I have spent too much time in the sun? What would you say if I told you that several of these items previously resided in my personal collection and I have color photographs to prove my point?
Everything is not always what it seems. Twenty or thirty years ago, I used to visit as many major collectors as I could. Being a novice, I assumed everything in the collection being displayed was genuine authentic artifacts. Oh, how wrong I was! While most of these collectors knew which were good, and which were bad, most shared a common display space in the cabinets. Why? If you showed interest in a particular piece and the owner thought less of it than its neighbor, you could probably take it home for a bargain price. In this way the collection was purged of spurious material and no one recognized the difference. A secret way for some was “Fakes for Sale” never were listed in a catalog!
“Used by Permission of the Author” and originally published in American Indian Artifacts; Genuine or
Reproduction by Col. John F. Berner. Copyright © 2000 by American Antiquities, Inc.