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Thread: Faked medieval swords alert

  1. Faked medieval swords alert

    I've heard talk about a recent influx of very well made fakes of medieval swords, that have surfaced at auctions in Europe. They are newly made and artificially aged, and very hard to tell rom originals unless you know your stuff. It seems like documented provinence is more important than ever, and that personal handling and experience of originals is just as important. To buy antique swords via Internet can become a costly experience, so buyer beware... Anyone else heard about an increase in fakes?

  2. #2

    Yep

    Yes I have heard of a couple pieces showing up looking very good. ie simulated excavated condition. The increase in such things seems to be on the rise and probably will continue to be a problem. Its getting to a point were its going to be hard to be sure of something with out the provinence being very good.

    Craig

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    Not to mention...

    ...the "perpetuated" fakes, good copies that were made in the 19th century and that by now they feature a nice enough patina and a record of having been in some reputable collections.
    There's more than one museum displaying this kind of pieces as genuine originals.
    This particular topic is something of a slippery ground, in the sense that if they are good enough to pass as good, the perceived value is as high as an original, and the collector (who is the one keeping those pieces in circulation and setting the price for them by stating how much is willing to pay) is happy enough. At least a good bunch of them.
    Why I say so? Well, the majority of collectors are very reluctant to send their pieces to appraisal because they fear some of them could provide some unpleasant surprises. Much less when it comes the time to sell them, of course. Not that I blame them. But they ask for a rock-solid evidence when time comes to BUY a piece. Again, no-one may blame them. But right now, there's no other way to certify a piece than having an "expert" to take a look at it.
    The outcome of this is that once a piece has gone through a "reputable" dealer, its as good as genuine, because the "good provenance" has started to be built. From this point on, the "genuinity" of a piece boils down to a question of a "war" of opinions. Is the opinion of the antique dealer "X", to whom you're trying to sell the piece, better than the opinion of the auction house "Y" from where you brought it? Does that "connosieur" friend of yours know what he's talking about? Is he trying to downplay your pet piece for some reason, maybe because he wants to buy it, maybe because if yours is good another one he may have should be not? At the end, what makes the piece genuine is just that, an opinion. More or less educated, but an opinion. And opinions may not only be wrong, but biased... or even brought. And I'm sure that, just as an example, there's a e-bay dealer with a long surname more than one of us is thinking about, right now...
    Bottom line is, one can't know for sure, we take our chances and, some, only some, work hard to educate ourselves.
    But at the end, this is how the market works, and, like it or not, if one wants to play one have to play by the rules as they are.
    What really ticks me off, in a personal level, is that this process ends up "contaminating" the historical work some try to do. The study of ancient weaponry would be hard enough without having to question the "goodness" of some pieces one comes across in a museum or referenced in a book. The new generation of hoplology scholars that worked from the fifties onward (Oakeshott, Mann, Rawson, the Hoffmeyers, Norman, etc...) made a great work on starting to dispell some of the myths the former generations (Stone, Laking, etc...)established (hey, I'm not bashing the old timers, they made a heck of a work that we'll forever be grateful for, we wouldn't be where we are wouldn't have been for them). But the "newest" generation is now in a point where the level of refinement that actual research asks for don't allow for things like fakes being accounted for. Period.
    That's why I love seeing people like Dr. Williams adding a factor of hardcore, solid science to the study of ancient weaponry. Science is not the answer to everything, but in this particular case it's what's needed to start to end with the coming and going of opinions, and to add a new horizon to the research. I'm starting to tie up things to work in this direction myself, as a matter of fact. Things are very sketchy as yet, but time will (hopefully) tell...
    Last edited by Marc G.; 04-15-2002 at 05:18 AM.
    Marc
    "Living and trying to learn"

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    You should show all your purchases to your nearest reputable state museum for authentication and peace of mind. Unfortunately the ancient art market is cursed with a high proportion of fakes. Fakes often look better than real antiquities to the inexperienced eye - they are often intact, invariably unrestored (although their contours are dull usually) and their colours are more vivid. Seek the same re-assurance from all those who sell to you.* Use a panel of authenticating experts consisting of experienced dealers and collectors in the UK and abroad, as well as an independent fellow museum director from Europe, and consult with them on a regular basis.

    Insist on an official certificate of authenticity by the Celtic & Prehistoric Museum at no additional charge.

    Do not risk serious disappointment in such a magnificent hobby.

    ; )
    hc3

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    W T F@(&

    Tell me this is a joke hc. I can't believe you said that. I can't help it but I think it's kind of funny in a twisted sort of way. It'd be funnier if so many people weren't taken in by it though. I hope I haven't just put my foot in it. No offense intended towards anybody OK.

    Yeah it seems like more and more "authentic" ancient swords are appearing out of nowhere. Occasionally the seller or "dealer" claims to have some sort of provenance but more and more they don't even bother, claiming they came across it at an estate sale and had it "authenticated" by a third party. Oh please.

    What these guys rely on are that people are naturally self serving (read: greedy) and can't seem to pass up a "good" deal. It's easy to be convinced of something they already want to believe in. The trick is to be skeptical. Let the evidence convince you. Do considerable research before making any deal. If ANYTHING starts to stink....well just use a little discernment. And DON"T expect to find priceless relics at bargain basement prices on e-bay!

    If an ancient "looking sword is what you want, fine, go for it. But if you let yourself believe it's authentic you'll usually wind up paying a lot more than it's worth. I've seen people pay as much as several thousand dollars for relics that were only reproductions and only worth several hundred at most. They did so because against their better judgment, they let themselves believe they were buying something worth tens of thousands.

    If they had done their homework they might have discovered that there are plenty of real ancient pieces for sale, in the appropriate stages of decay for a lot less than they might have thought. Do your homework!
    Respectfuly, your faithful servant,

    Robert Quigley


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    Alas, I wish it was a joke, it's the famous Eftis "GUARANTEE".

    Who knows how many have been taken in?

    I suppose that my point is that most guarantees are worthless nonsense. One has to trust one's own knowledge in the final analysis. Study and learn, compare, and you won't get burned often.

    And don't forget two rules of fraud-

    It's difficult to cheat an honest man;

    and

    If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
    Last edited by hc bright; 04-15-2002 at 05:10 PM.
    hc3

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    Ahh yes....the famous Eftis and his "guarantee".

    ....
    Last edited by R. Quigley; 04-15-2002 at 06:33 PM.
    Respectfuly, your faithful servant,

    Robert Quigley


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    Re: Not to mention...

    Originally posted by Marc G.
    ...That's why I love seeing people like Dr. Williams adding a factor of hardcore, solid science to the study of ancient weaponry. Science is not the answer to everything, but in this particular case it's what's needed to start to end with the coming and going of opinions, and to add a new horizon to the research. I'm starting to tie up things to work in this direction myself, as a matter of fact. Things are very sketchy as yet, but time will (hopefully) tell...
    Marc, are you telling us about a new datation approach, or what? Based on historical morphology aspects, or, more likely by your words, scientific facts from the material itself?

    I think that it could be interesting to the Forum to know more, up the point you feel comfortable, of course!
    Last edited by Juan J. Perez; 04-17-2002 at 01:40 AM.
    SI, SI
    NO, NON

  9. #9

    New research

    Juan

    I am not aware of Marc's details, though I look forward to any info he can provide as he is a "right thinking chap" as the english say. I do know that there are a couple of researchers working on the physical aspects of materials used in swords. This is something that I think has been overlooked for quite sometime.

    Some of the techniques being used are very interesting and creative and I think the future will yield some interesting material for the scholar and collector. I wish I had more to give on the details but much is via conversation and such and I would not want to put forth anything without some specific detail. No need to muddy waters with uninformed speculation.

    I think the construction and materials of swords can tell us volumes and I hope the research world can find the resources to dig deeper into this question.

    Craig

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    Well, Craig, I'll take this as a compliment, specially coming from you. .
    Juan, trying to draw me out? Nothing really defined, as yet, work is keeping me in a 24/7 nightmare, but hopefully it will be over reasonably soon. Maybe some time after that I'll be able to have something a bit more solid.
    But fact is that there is ways to truly determine the age of a piece, and it's age what makes an antique...well, an antique. And that there's ways to walk around the vast majority of the tricks of the faker's trade. And, here, science IS the answer. Now, affordability is a totally different issue... exactly the one that must be worked out.
    In research, we're in a point where there's a great need to throw bridges between areas of knowledge. The field of archeometallurgy is the perfect example, it doesn't always work as ideally as one might want to, but more often than not it's a discipline where one can see the scientific and the historian working together in the same problem. And getting results! Is from this kind of collaborations, and I would eagerly throw the swordsman and the smith in the team, from where I expect to see coming the most revealing discoveries in the times to come.
    With the hope that some resources are provided, of course... *sigh*
    Marc
    "Living and trying to learn"

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    Well Marc,

    That's an interesting direction you're going in. Having spent the past five years in a environmental, dynamic & emi test lab, you can understand why I'm curious about what you're up to (knowing how data acquisition via quantitative scientific methodology usually requires a lab full of very expensive equipment & access to test subjects). Keep us advised regarding any ground-breaking discoveries!

    Mark

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    Mark:

    Ground-breaking??
    I'm wondering if I should have kept my mouth shut... Let me clarify that what I really have right now is nothing but a project. As such, It CAN work out or not, but until I'm full speed into it I won't know. So, I prefer to keep quiet until I have something consistent, I wouldn't feel comfortable otherwise. Not because I want to play "mystery", but because I would be making affirmations over a lot of "if's" and "maybe's", which would go against all my training as a scientist. One of the worst sins, trying to build expectations over nothing...

    Said that, and keeping into account that in fact I plan to take a more than small deal of personal implication with this project, I firmly believe that there's something worth the risk and the effort at the end of the road, but until I can turn this belief into reality I better not build what in truth would be castles in the air. We all knows that in these situations is always better to speak with the head than with the heart .
    Marc
    "Living and trying to learn"

  13. #13

    Wise wods Marc

    Originally posted by Marc G.
    Mark:

    ...but until I can turn this belief into reality I better not build what in truth would be castles in the air. We all knows that in these situations is always better to speak with the head than with the heart .
    Wise words Marc. I know the feeling of a desire to express what one hopes will happen, but realising that it is to complicated to declare as a reality. Speak with the head, tempered by an honorable heart. Sounds like an excellent motto

    Craig

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