Fakes – Discuss or Surpress?

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dognose
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Fakes — Discuss or Surpress?

Postby dognose » Wed Oct 27, 2010 7:46 am

Fakes — Discuss or Surpress?

Hi all,

The question of whether the details of faked Russian silver should be discussed on the forum has been raised a lot just lately. There would appear to be two divided camps on this subject, those that believe that revealing the flaws in the faker's methods are of assistance to them in their search to reach a more perfected end product and thus dupe us all, and there are those who believe that if armed with the knowledge of the faker's products, faults, methods etc. then that is the best policy to defeat them.

I can see both sides of the argument, but what do you, the members of this forum, think? Should such knowledge be suppressed? Should such information be openly debated so we all can learn and thus product ourselves and others from falling into the traps as others have?

It has been suggested that the use of the PM system is a way sharing information with trusted contacts. The use of the PM system has never been encouraged as this forum has always been about openly sharing knowledge.

What's your opinion?

Trev.

Qrt.S
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Re: Fakes — Discuss or Surpress?

Postby Qrt.S » Wed Oct 27, 2010 9:10 am

This is a good topic to discuss.
I don’t think there is an absolute waterproof answer to this question. Both opinions are logical and justified. However, explaining in details on an open forum what is wrong and how should it actually look like on a genuine object is according to me not wise at all for reasons already mentioned in several threads.

To me a person who is interested in silver should first and before all study and gain experience of how to separate fake marks/objects from genuine ones from other sources but not here. When a certain level of experience is achieved by learning then start to collect. Not the other way which unfortunately seems to be the more common way.
To buy a piece and then start to wonder in 925 is it in general silver and/or where is it from, Africa or Russia or maybe Patagonia is not the way how it is done.
What should be debated on the site are questions of origin, shape, beauty etc and sometimes biography around the maker and that sort of things when you have alternatives. To ask, did I buy a fake or not really bugs me. Find it out yourself before you buy it!
You need books, more books and visits to museums, exhibitions etc.
I have more to say but let’s start with this.

finnclouds
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Re: Fakes — Discuss or Surpress?

Postby finnclouds » Wed Oct 27, 2010 10:06 am

Thanks for starting the topic -- if I hadn't been a new poster on the site, I would have done it.

First, introductions: I'm a Finn (hi to Qrt and Juke!) living in the US. Not much of a collector, mostly a research junkie. I got interested in silver about three years ago and have been buying cheap little pieces from around the world, mostly to get a feel for the different techniques and grades of silver and marks used. I don't have a single piece of Russian silver, mostly because I haven't seen any offered (at a reasonable price) that I was absolutely sure was authentic. I used to speak Russian and lived across the Hermitage for a few months when studying Russian but that was a loooooonnnng time ago. So, I've seen Imperial Russian silver in real life: behind glass, with guards making sure you didn't press your nose into the glass.

My point -- and I have one-- is that finding GENUINE Russian pieces (especially Imperial ones) to study is not easy. Museums won't let you handle objects or looks at marks -- the Christies and Bonhams don't show marks in their (online) catalogs. Meanwhile, the VAST majority of Russian silver items offered by antiques stores plus smaller auction houses and especially online ones in the USA are fakes. The Postnikova Loseva is rare here and last I checked, the only copy I could find had an asking price of over $200. The fakers are now using rare marks (e.g. Maria Semjonova and Grivshin) and better techniques.

The danger with this is that soon no one knows what a real mark looks like or what real quality is. Once sold at a (regional) auction for a high price, an item has provenance. (Cf. the Uppsala Grivshin I dug up.)

My personal interest in this is as an unpaid, unsung contributor on an antiques discussion board of an online auction venue. Most people asking questions about their items there are sellers. (I fully understand the frustration of sharing one's knowledge for free -- mostly without thanks). I'm trying to do my part in stopping the deluge of Russian fakes being offered for sale. I always suggest they post here, but few will. Plus -- silver and silver marks are addictive, especially for a research junkie.

In a perfect world, an open discussion of fakes is therefore what I would like to see. But I quite understand and appreciate the reasons for keeping the details scarce.

silverly
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Re: Fakes — Discuss or Surpress?

Postby silverly » Wed Oct 27, 2010 12:55 pm

One of the best things about this site has been the fakes being exposed. The Russian fakes in particular seem to be so good that if someone was not putting up the warning flags I would have no idea how to detect them.

I mean absolutely no disrespect to the experts that can identify fakes; however, for myself, I would rather see the fakes discussed even at the risk of educating the fakers just because the public is also being educated.

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Re: Fakes — Discuss or Surpress?

Postby dragonflywink » Wed Oct 27, 2010 1:27 pm

I have mixed feelings regarding this question - as a somewhat compulsive researcher (like so many of our regular members), the Russian silver threads are fascinating to me when they go into details, it is a very confusing and difficult to research area for most of us. I am also concerned with the rampant sales, especially online, of both obvious and not so obvious forgeries, but honestly don't know whether more importance lies in having the proper information available to the general public or in avoiding any assistance to those producing the forgeries. Recently saw a piece sold as genuine, the description filled with inaccuracies, even after being bluntly identified here as a fake, with many of the problems with the marks and appearance pointed out in another discussion group - so apparently, even with the correct information provided, these items will continue to pollute the market. While the sale of these items online with improper identification and too-high prices is definitely adding to the plethora of misinformation on the internet, personally feel that the first record on an item being a fairly recent sale more than a hundred years after its supposed production, would not really be reliable provenance.

Seems clear that the issue of detailed Russian silver discussion here will ultimately lie with the members having the experience and reliable reference sources, it is their decision whether or not to share their knowledge. And with that, the issue arises of backing up an opinion given - without reasonable explanation or reliable reference citations, there really isn't any reason for anyone to believe an anonymous answer in a public forum (they have no idea who is providing the information). Those who will believe that an online sales description serves as anything other than a possible clue in pursuing proper research, will just as easily believe that an unfavorable but unsubstantiated opinion on a silver forum is wrong - most will believe what they want to believe.

~Cheryl

Postnikov
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Re: Fakes — Discuss or Surpress?

Postby Postnikov » Wed Oct 27, 2010 2:09 pm

Hi -

since 2 years I visit this site and try my best to help others to solve their riddles about Baltic and Russian silver. Just let me sum up: a few real collectors, some beginners. The majority consists of two groups: the first are people who see something on auction sites and only want to know if this or that Russian object is a fake or not. They are no beginners who want to learn - they are only interested on a positiv answer to have their own benefit out of it (they even use the photos of the auction site!). The second group are those who bought already and after looking closer feel that there is something wrong - now they need a confirmation. They too are no beginners who want to learn. Beginners do not buy for thousands of dollars! They start slow with a simple silverspoon, etc. When you know your marks you can find them anywhere - even in places where you never had believed to find some Russian or Baltic silver - for little money. If you bought a fake, you lost not too much money but learned a lot. It is senseless and wasting time to answer all this stupid questions, which lead nowhere.
(Typical answer: it is a spoon, pitcher, server, etc. my grand grand father brought back from St. Petersburg after his service in the Imperial army. The spoon, pitcher, server etc. is communistic, Moscow 1972! Is he a beginner? Stupid? Liar? When you give your answer - no Thank You, just hate..)
Where are the beginners or silver lovers?
I for my part know what to do!

Regards
Postnikov

finnclouds
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Re: Fakes — Discuss or Surpress?

Postby finnclouds » Wed Oct 27, 2010 2:11 pm

A quick clarification re auctions and provenance (hi Cheryl!) : while I meant my comment to pertain mostly to real life, more of less reputable auction houses duped by fake marks ( happens a lot here), it seems to me a bit of the same group psychology is at play with online auctions: once an item has been offered in public & has drawn several bidders who later leave glowing feedback, it's a little easier to believe it was authentic to start with.

If there's anything to be done to stop the sales of fakes is, of course, highly debatable. People will indeed believe what they want to believe. On the other hand, it seems to me the decision of whether to share or not to share knowledge depends also on the site philosophy: why have open forums if not also for the enjoyment and education of the unwashed masses? Restricted-access forums would work perfectly if the cognoscenti wanted to discuss their treasures in private. I therefore rather side with silverly on this.

I thought Postnikov's detailed close-up photos of the real and fake cloisonne were very helpful. The marks are way easier to fake than quality. Maybe that is one way to go--concentrate on other aspects than the marks.

Postnikov
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Re: Fakes — Discuss or Surpress?

Postby Postnikov » Wed Oct 27, 2010 2:55 pm

Hi -
I do not want to make a crusade against fakers - it is not possible - because there is a mighty industry behind them - and everything that brings more money for less effort is faked. I would not complain if this objects were
sold es replicas to give everybody the opportunity to own some nice contemporary lookalikes (like Hanau-silver) - but they are made only for one purpose: to cheat and swindle. And we give them a platform, bigger than for authentic silver. There is something wrong!

Regards
Postnikov

Qrt.S
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Re: Fakes — Discuss or Surpress?

Postby Qrt.S » Wed Oct 27, 2010 3:46 pm

Yes, something is definitely wrong. If we still continue in advising where to look what to look for, we will most likely in the long run create a situation where nobody anymore knows is it a fake or not. This might happen only for the simple reason that the fakers have become too good in manufacturing the goods. Learning by doing is the case.

What a situation and what will happen next I may ask? Yes, the value of Imperial Russian silver will drop dramatically because nobody wants it because nobody dares to buy it being afraid of buying a fake. Who wants that? It is only a waste of money and no investment or whatsoever!
This is how the market works. It is this very well known question about supply and demand. Too much supply and the price will go down alternatively, no demand due to the increased risk and again the same result, prices decrease. Even if we are not talking prices the whole area regarding Russian silver will be demolished and cease to exist. It has become junk. I don’t want that to happen.

Now somebody might say that: Ähhhh! This 925 is only a minor site in the whole universe, nothing to worry about. But NO, this is not a minor site. Just look where from the attendants are! From all over the world! In addition what knowledge lies here when all of it is put together. Don’t destroy this with stupid and irrelevant basic questions.
I still recommend books etc. to start with and learn the basics. Like Postnikov said: my grandfather brought it back from the Russian Japanese war…or: This has for generations been in the family or: We have had it on the mantelpiece for ages…
Then you take a closer look and find the object maybe 20 years of age or it being a fake. To avoid this learn the basics but not here! This site is not a school but a kind of a discussion forum where you can exchange experience, knowledge and also “learn” etc. But only to a certain extent....

I also recommend that: If you don't know what you intend to buy, leave it don't buy!

Have a nice evening

Qrt.S

finnclouds
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Re: Fakes — Discuss or Surpress?

Postby finnclouds » Wed Oct 27, 2010 5:13 pm

Evil prevails when good men do nothing
Found a copy of the Postnikova and splurged.

Have a nice life.

Postnikov
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Re: Fakes — Discuss or Surpress?

Postby Postnikov » Thu Oct 28, 2010 4:07 am

Hi finnclouds -

Congratulation! The right step in the right direction! Now you are bitten by the same bug!

Regards and happy hunting
Postnikov

dognose
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Re: Fakes — Discuss or Surpress?

Postby dognose » Thu Oct 28, 2010 5:15 am

Just a thought regarding Qrt.S's comments on the effect of a possible fall in financial values due to the rise in faked items. Would this be so bad? Too many great works of art are sleeping in dusty bank vaults and safety deposit boxes, stored by their owners who can see nothing at all but their $$$ value. The rest of the world will probably never ever get to see a glimpse of such pieces, but if their investment falls in value then maybe such pieces will come on to the open market and find their way into the hands of museums and private collectors who really appreciate the beauty and craftsmanship of these wonderful pieces for what they are, and not just for financial speculation.

As someone who has a passion for silver, as I'm sure the others who have contributed to this thread are, a fall in financial value of these items is something that I don't have a problem with. Sure, we all want a good investment, but I believe the true collector acquires the piece because of the love of the item and not because he hopes that it will worth $xxxx in xxxx years.

Regards to all,

Trev.

Postnikov
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Re: Fakes — Discuss or Surpress?

Postby Postnikov » Thu Oct 28, 2010 6:03 am

Hi -
I do not believe in the effects of a possible fall in financial values due to the rise in faked items. The quantity of authentic items will not increase - only the quantity of the fakes. So the originals will still increase more and more. The only danger for speculants is when it is "very out" to collect Russian silver - than the prices start to get normal again - not the worst thing for collectors! Russian silver was collected long before speculants jumped on the train - and it still will be collected after the speculants left.

When I bought my first Fabergé travel inkwell 1980 in Mosow for 60 USD, the seller could not believe that some foreign idiot payed so much money for such a worthless, outmoded utensil.I would like to know what he thinks about this idiot today.(In my collector`s opinion the real value is really not more than 60 USD, but the histeric market thinks different).

The future will show - but I am very optimistic!

Regards
Postnikov

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Re: Fakes — Discuss or Surpress?

Postby Juke » Thu Oct 28, 2010 6:47 am

Hi!

Well one more opinion to the already written ones, there has much already been written on the issues and I agree on many of them. Firstly it can be said that the russian silver is an exception in that point that fakes are made in a much larger scale and wider timescale than I guess none of the other silver categories in the world. Thereby we can not avoid it, not even on this forum. There will be questions related to fakes, marks that are self evident fakes and marks that are not always clear from the start without further investigation to. In those cases if one wants to get a proof that the item indeed is a fake then further investigation would be needed. I think it is much up to the forum members how much they want to investigate/write about an unsure marking, if they investigate/write about it then in the end normally they can come to a conclusion if it have been a fake or not.

Normally people that have bought an item which authenticity on this forum is from the start questioned are unhappy of the bad investment and want to have more opinions/more thorough replies before they can accept their bad decision on an investment. Then it is a different question if it is needed to be replied until the end. Many question can possibly be handled by simple replies on authenticity specially those ones which hints of a possible commercial interest to make an investment. I have seen it very helpful with the answers including the fake ones but I belive also people need to make also their homework meaning getting the litterature and then by themselves solve why somebody concluded a mark to be a fake. I anyway hope this forum to be a place of exchange of knowledge and experience to make the possibility to learn more.

Regards,
Juke

Qrt.S
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Re: Fakes — Discuss or Surpress?

Postby Qrt.S » Thu Oct 28, 2010 9:55 am

To Trev's attention.
Maybe I didn't put my words right. The main point with my statement was not the fall in value/lost investments but the problem with fakes that they are so good that it becomes close to impossible to separate fakes from original pieces. It might cause a situation in the future where nobody is interested in Imperial Russian silver anymore. Then these objects from the vaults and other hiding places will pop up on the market because the owners strive to get rid of them before it is too late. Now the market begins to flood with both genuine and faked items but nobody is able to separate which is a fake and which is genuine. Who wants such objects? This might result in a fall in value as well as lost interest in Russian silver. That would not be so nice! The balance between those who are only interested in or who’s hobby silver (marks) are and those who see it as a profitable investment only is a rather sensitive matter I believe.

In addition, I fully share Juke's opinion regarding people who buys objects without knowing what they bought and the when they ask it here and it turns out to be a fake. The situations will heat up because the disappointment is big and money is lost. It has happened here in the past and it will happen again. Completely unnecessary debates. This is one of the reason why I'm rather unwilling to discuss fakes on these sites. It only makes you sad and/or angry. But on the other hand, if you have acted stupidly, you shall bare the consequences but also gain experience. This is called reality.

Anyway, let's not make too hasty conclusions........yet!

have a nice evening

Qrt.S

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Re: Fakes — Discuss or Surpress?

Postby Silbersammler » Thu Oct 28, 2010 10:36 am

For me, this forum is a very good and helpful way to learn how to recognize the fakes.
I bought some very expensive "russian" items some month ago, here I heard the first time that those items are fakes (thanks a lot, Postnikov and Qrt.S).
After buying those items, I showed them to 3 silver dealers. Everybody told me “.... very nice, good buy, surely genuine”.
I bought a book about faberge (2 of those items had been marked with faberge hallmark), but was not able to see the differences myself. I don`t believe that a visit in the faberge museum (in Baden Baden we have one) would had opened my eyes.
Thus I needed the help of this forum in order to show me why those items are fakes.
Are the fakers trained? Maybe. But: the dealer, who sold the items to me will meet me soon before court and surely can`t sell more fakes in the near future. That is nevertheless also a contribution, in order to decrease the fakes.

The answer to the question, why to spend a lot of money to buy something you don`t know?
Did you ever hold a “faberge egg” of 14 carat gold, enamel with 10 carat diamonds in your hands? I tested the diamonds - genuine - I tested the gold - 14 carat ok - and it looks wonderful for me, a friend told me "genuine". I never believed that there are made fakes in such a high quality ..... and the hope to buy such a rare and famous object made me careless (the story of the dealer was also a very good lie).

Sure first I was very disappointed, but would it be better my daughters would hear from Christies 50 years later, that their father was so stupid? So please continue to educate the newbies like me how to recognize the fakes.
I hope I have some day so much knowledge that I can pay back this help to other newbies in this forum or elsewere.

finnclouds
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Re: Fakes — Discuss or Surpress?

Postby finnclouds » Thu Oct 28, 2010 10:57 am

Congratulation! The right step in the right direction! Now you are bitten by the same bug!

Regards and happy hunting


Thanks. I was bitten by the silver bug (marks/research) already three years ago. Russian silver, however, holds no special interest to me. Most everything I see is ALREADY faked -- i.e. we have already, at least in the US, reached the point where those with a little (but not enough) knowledge pass on Imperial Russian silver due to the forgeries. I know just enough to suspect (being able to read Russian helps) but not to confirm.

The rare books seller of the Postnikova- Loseva canceled the sale: the book wasn't available after all. The ONLY copy for sale now I find now after extensive Googling/checks with rare book sellers/ has an asking price of $300. I think I'll pass.

Given the abundance of fakes, scarcity of information about real Russian marks and difficulty and expense of finding the Bibles of Russian silver, I think most small time antique dealers/auction houses/people who have inherited a piece they think might be valuable can no longer be expected--at least realistically-- to research and authenticate their Russian silver on their own. Take a look at what is offered online and you'll see.

I used to suggest that people come here to ask about their items but having read the posts in this thread, I no longer will. Advantage fakers.

Postnikov
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Re: Fakes — Discuss or Surpress?

Postby Postnikov » Thu Oct 28, 2010 11:38 am

Hi Silbersammler -

thank you very much for your contribution!

We all are very upset and sorry for you and the lot of damage done to you by people witout the slightest scrupel!

I do not want to expose you as the famous "bad example" (apologies in advance!!!) but alow me to say something to help other newbies what they should not do in any case:

Quote: "Did you ever hold a Fabergé eg......."
If you ever held an original Fabergé eg in your hands you would not have bought the fake - there is a big, big difference you can even feel with closed eyes!
Quote: "...a friend told me..."
You know what you know and need no friends to decide for you. Was he an Fabergé expert with a small collection, where you could compare?
Quote: "...and the hope .....made me careless...."
Never be careless or greedy - always be absolute sure and convienced!

What we repeat again and again:
Before you start buying, please do your homework! If you do not know what you have in your hand - run! Do not listen to others or their nice stories - just count the facts and decide for yourself in cold blood!

Regards and Thank you very much for your "help"!
Postnikov

Postnikov
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Re: Fakes — Discuss or Surpress?

Postby Postnikov » Thu Oct 28, 2010 12:17 pm

Hi finnclouds -

300 USD for "The Bible of Russian silver" is a very aceptable price. Normaly you will not get it for 500 USD - because there is none. The book is out of print since years! One little fake costs you more....If you are really interested in silver you need literature - sorry - but good books cost good money.

As we all know, the USA is the best place to sell fakes - because most of the buyers are ignorants or speculants. In times of Internet it is no proplem to buy worldwide - and there are many, many very good occasions to buy authentic Russian silver - but you must know what you are doing. (Maybe you look in France, Sweden, GB, Germany even in USA.)

If you have questions - just ask the guys from 925-1000 :-)

Regards and do´nt give up
Postnikov

finnclouds
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Re: Fakes — Discuss or Surpress?

Postby finnclouds » Thu Oct 28, 2010 12:36 pm

Re "real" Faberge: From The Dark side of Power -- The Real Armand Hammer" by Carl Blumay -- page 106:

I asked Victor [Hammer's brother] about the large number of Faberge objects that had passed through their hands. "Our Moscow office was located in Faberge's old shop and workrooms," he said, "which Armand rented for the equivalent of twelve American dollars a month. Each piece of Faberge jewelry was signed with a Faberge hallmark, but the hallmarks had disappeared after the Revolution. Before Armand left for Paris, the Bolsheviks gave him a set of these punches. In Paris Armand hunted down a craftsman who had trained with the same masters who had taught Faberge and was capable of knocking off objects in the Faberge style. Of course, he did not have access to the precious stones from the Urals and could not duplicate Faberge's complicated enameling process. But he certainly could knock off the second-rate pieces, which could only be authenticated by hallmarking. And, luckily, we had the hallmarks. Therefore, these objects were worth a lot of money to us despite the fact that many were really quite mediocre. Side by side, with the Soviet-owned Faberge, we sold our own perfectly hallmarked Faberge pieces and kicked back commissions on both to Mikoyan. In 1938 we had a very big Faberge sale and sold so many real pieces and so many counterfeits we grossed millions.

Sorry about the lacking accent on Faberge-- it's due to the bad typing skills of yours truly. Victor Hammer was Armand's brother.


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