Since finding bannerstones is such a rare occurrence, most collectors turn to buying banners. As with all artifacts, the more desirable the relic type, the more reproductions one must wade through to find the authentic ones.
While certain more established artifact auction houses and online auction sites tend to always seem to have scores and scores of beautiful undamaged banner-stones available made from the finest materials in the rarest of styles, finding authentic documented examples with good solid history is not quite as easy a task. If you are new to collecting, it is important that you know Indian artifacts are reproduced in modern times at an astounding pace. Bannerstones being one of the more valuable types of artifacts automatically makes it a favorite of the reproduction con-artist.
One of my closest friends and business associates is a gentleman named John McCurdy who resides in Mississippi. I met John several years ago and what he was going through at the time reminded me of exactly what I went through over 20 years ago when I first began collecting. We both share the common bond of being burned on reproduction artifacts we thought were the real thing when we began collecting. This has happened to hundreds if not thousands of other new collectors.
The defining moment of whether a person continues to collect or decides to drop from the hobby altogether comes quickly after the realization that while you thought you were beginning to build a valuable artifact collection, in reality you only have in your possession an accumulation of worthless fakes. At that critical point, most people drop from the hobby. John however, like myself years ago, maintained his love of artifacts and the study of the ancient past, and has gone on to put together a wonderful collection of authentic artifacts.
Collector John McCurdy with an assortment of artifacts he bought in his first year that were represented as being authentic, but in fact were reproductions. John has kept all his reproduction as study tools and reminders that when buying artifacts, especially from auctions with no solid guarantees, you cannot be too carefull
One of John’s favorite artifact groups to collect are bannerstones — predominately southern style banners. When I told John I was considering doing a page or so on reproductions and some of the pitfalls of collecting bannerstones, he related to me that he had kept every single reproduction he bought that first year he started collecting, and he would be glad to send me a photograph of them to use here. Knowing that John has since put together a quality collection of banners, I asked him to also send photos of his current collection to show newer collectors that between the pitfalls that are waiting out there for anyone trying to purchase artifacts, quality collections can still be assembled.