Museum Security Network

Treasures… Beware of artful codgers –

Treasures… Beware of artful codgers

Eleanor Flegg

Published 25/09/2015 | 02:30

Shaun Greenhalgh fake Egyptian princess
Shaun Greenhalgh fake Egyptian princess

During the summer I visited an antiques shop in Dublin where I found a small painted box with oriental styling. The price was €135 and dealer assured me that it was 19th century. “Is the stamp more recent than the rest of the box?” I asked after showing him the “Made in Japan” logo.

“Yeah,” said the dealer shiftily, “that must have been done later.”

When I went back a few weeks later, the shop was closed. The incident was a salutary reminder of the shady side of the antiques industry. Fakes and forgeries are out there. The trouble is many forgeries are very good indeed and don’t come with “Made in Japan” stamped on the base. In fact, the little box was just a copy of a period piece, not intended to deceive. The dodgy dealer, however, was.

A forgery, just to define the terms, is an object made from scratch to be a fraudulent imitation of something else, designed to deceive just like a forged banknote. A fake is an original object that has been altered to give it the appearance of something else, like a painting with the signature of another artist added. A fence meantime, is a person, like Del Boy in Only Fools And Horses, who knowingly trades in dodgy goods.

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