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Old And Sold Antiques Digest Article

Getting Stuck With A Fake

Author: Dr. Arthur Ediwin Bye

Every collector gets "stuck" with a spurious antique at one time or another. Even the most expert will on occasion be fooled by a clever fraud. This is as much a part of collecting antiques as when the housewife finds a bad melon upon cutting into what appeared so perfect at the market.

Careless or incomplete examination of the antique is the usual cause of this mishap. I, who should know better, did the same thing a few years ago by purchasing a small chest of drawers which seemed to be in excellent shape except for a slight crack across the top board and several coats of dark paint. Upon removing the paint, it was found that the "small crack" was in reality the junction of two boards, and that the thick paint concealed wood of three different species. The only way to salvage the money spent was to repaint the chest, which was done with a soft green decorated in white; this gave a far different appearance than desired.

Since no one likes to admit that he has been fooled, I quickly change the subject when this chest is noticed and tell about the real bargain I stumbled upon in obtaining a small pine primitive chest with handles of black walnut as deep and rich in color as bitter-sweet chocolate. The locks, I discovered after the purchase, are handmade and in perfect working order.

Human nature being what it is, you will hear many such tales of fabulous buys, yet few of the mistakes we all make.

So take heart, new collector! Mistakes will happen to the best of us, but you can avoid many pitfalls by knowing what to look for, and then by carefully scrutinizing before buying. You cannot carry a string of implements, like an over-grown charm bracelet consisting of calipers, steel straight edge, magnifying glass, tape measure, and flashlight; but you can run your fingers over the back to feel for hand-planing, you can take out the drawers, examine the insides, turn small furniture upside down, and otherwise inspect it carefully in all respects. The more money involved, the more inspection necessary. No reputable dealer will object-on the contrary, he will respect you for your knowledge.

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