HOME -->  STUDIES -->  Feature Stories and Articles     Back  

Collectors Concerns
Beware the Fakes, Frauds, and Reproductions

One of the greatest problems that collectors of military horse equipment, uniforms, weapons, and related ephemera will run into are the fakes, frauds, reproductions and copies that abound. Identifying these problem items before a purchase is critical, and we hope to present a number of the more common ones you'll find here. With help from other knowledgeable folks, we'll also present tips and techniques that will help you ID problem pieces on your own.

First, what is a fraud, a fake, a reproduction, a replica, a copy? In any definition there are legal ramifications - "fraud" or "fake" has an 'accusatory' element that "reproduction" or "replica" does not. For an item to be fraudulent or a "fake", there needs to be intent on the part of the seller to deceive the prospective purchaser regarding the items actual identity/authenticity. A reproduction or replica is openly represented to the purchaser as what it is, a newly made piece.

The tough part of determining fraud is to know if the seller is actually INTENTIONALLY misrepresenting a piece, or if they themselves have been duped. Also, the seller may not actually make any claims as to the authenticity of the piece, letting the buyer "imagineer" this information themselves. An example of this might be a seller that buys and buries modern made CW horse bits in the manure pile for a few weeks, and upon digging up these rusty "new relics", just places them on his show table with a price and no other information. Are they fakes? Or just "decor" pieces? [in this case, it is fraud]

What are reproductions, replicas, and copies? There can be any number of definitions for these terms, but we'll use these.

A REPRODUCTION is an item that is a fairly faithful rendition of a particular item, that is made and sold initially in "new condition". The processes, techniques, and materials used to create the reproduction are generally the same as were used to make the original.

A REPLICA would be newly made item, that duplicates an original in noticeably less detail - a replica is essentially an item styled after the original, and may not have been made using any of the processes, techniques, or materials of the original.   Apparel replica's are commonly called "costumes".

A COPY is a highly rendered duplication of an original item, to include aging, flaws, damage, etc., so that it has the same appearance as the original artifact. Since the term is pretty generic, we'll tend to avoid it except in specific descriptions. A copy is essentially one step from being a fake - that step being the intent of a person to represent it as an original to a buyer.

In this section, we'll generally refer to items seen/found/acquired that are non-original pieces (replica, reproduction, or copy), that are not clearly represented as such, as fakes. We'll try and reserve the term "fraud" for only those most deserving of examples.


The Infamous Bit Ornaments

C.S. Saddle Pommel Shield

The McClellan Saddle

A "Civil War" McClellan

Yet Another "Civil War" McClellan

The AMAZING 7th Cavalry Bugle

Yawn, Another "Civil War Officers" McClellan