They look like real Krugerrands but they are fakes- worthless as they contain no gold whatsoever. Made to catch you out but the Antique Plate Committee at Goldsmiths Hall in London is your guardian angel.
Today when out shopping we all recognise branded merchandise. We know that top brands such as Gucci, Rolex and Cartier are all going to charge prices that match what they deliver. Years of research and development coupled with cutting edge design and top class manufacturing result in products of superior quality. With a growing demand for these luxury goods there is also the growth of the forgeries that look the same while costing a fraction of the price. This practice is nothing new and the existence of fakes in the antique trade is something we as dealers take very seriously.
On Monday this week I attended the Fakes and Forgeries Seminar run by The Goldsmiths Company in London. This is run at the Goldsmiths Hall in Foster Lane which since 1300 has been responsible for testing the quality of gold and silver. The word hallmark originated here, when in the fifteenth century all of London’s craftsmen were required to bring their wares for assaying and marking. As is human nature there have always been those who would try, through deceit to make easy money and the world of antique silver has as its guardian angel the Antique Plate Committee. Established in 1939 this group consists of experts from silversmiths through to antique silver dealers. Since then they have reviewed over 26 000 articles and condemned forty per cent to be either a fake or forgery.
Henry Willis- Antique silver dealer and member of the Antique Plate Committee
During this seminar round table discussions are held where fakes, forgeries and the real thing sit side by side. Sounds like fun picking out the real thing only to be fooled again and again. The only consolation is that many of the experts running the show have also on occasion been fooled and freely share their knowledge as to the techniques employed in trying to deceive. Experience is the best defence and these experts guide and illustrate the techniques employed to try and deceive.
David Cawte-Member of the Antique Plate Committee
The Antique plate committee who sit four times a year have through the detection of fakes allowed the Goldsmiths Company to build a collection of ‘Black’ silver known as the rogue’s gallery. These pieces cover all known techniques and I was amazed at the range of methods employed. From inset hallmarks through to completely fake punches the means and methods of the faker were laid bare.
Alastair Dickenson- Antique silver dealer and member of the Antique Plate Committee
Herein lies the real strength of this seminar, by sharing this knowledge they help dealers such as myself to focus the mind and accept that what we are looking at may be wrong. This experience is invaluable to us as it helps avoid costly mistakes but more importantly it adds another layer of protection for our clients allowing them to buy with confidence.