Monday, July 30, 2012

Further notes on the Korean fakes

I have recently had the opportunity to inspect some of the "enhanced" Parkers recently sold by eBay seller yeujeff [ID changed to rttrfb, as of September 12; also now selling as sunpawel] (formerly jeffriad) from Korea (previous discussion here). Personal examination bears out my previous conclusions, and allows a better understanding of exactly how the work was done and how it can be detected.
The most obvious fakes from yeujeff/jeffriad to date are the bandless Duofolds. Real examples are early production pens, made from hard rubber which is hard to the point of brittleness (hence the rarity of intact survivors) and totally opaque. The fakes use newly-made caps and barrels that are made from a plastic which is rather soft and waxy, and -- a huge giveaway, visible even in the eBay photos -- translucent.

The contrast between the materials used in the fakes and in the originals is less stark with the Mandarin Yellow Duofolds, since the genuine pens were in this case made of plastic, too. Nonetheless, the fakes use a yellow plastic that is decidedly softer than the original, and which an alert and experienced collector should be able to detect by touch. In any event, chemical testing easily demonstrates the difference between the fake and the real. The plastic of the fakes appears to be custom-colored home-cast resin, which, ironically enough, is even less stable than the original Parker yellow. The pen I inspected was already developing internal stress cracks in the middle of the barrel.

The fake 51 demonstrator was the pen most likely to fool, especially if sold by photos. Although the barrel and hood were oversize enough that the cap fit was too tight, this can't be counted on for every example. And though the imprint did have anomalies, they were subtle and not easily spotted without fairly high magnification. Luckily, the one sure giveaway is something that would be extremely difficult for any faker to duplicate, and that is the telltale interior machining marks on barrel, hood, and blind cap alike. Genuine Parker parts have a very distinct pattern of toolmarks, absent on the fakes. Again, this will be very difficult to detect from photographs, and it helps greatly to have genuine examples in hand with which to compare.

I have not yet have an opportunity to inspect one of yeujeff/jeffriad's "double jewelly" 51s, but I have a pretty good idea of what he is doing with them. The rare colors -- mustard (Yellowstone), Nassau Green, tan -- are not available in standard commercially-available plastic rod stock, so these are surely also being home-cast and custom-colored, whether in acrylic or polyester resin remains to be seen. Inspection of tool marks will be a little tougher on these than on a transparent demonstrator, but still fairly straightforward after disassembly (and downright easy with the blind cap). Since genuine double-jewel 51s are scarce and not to be had cheaply, even in common colors, yeujeff/jeffriad is in most cases using inexpensive single-jewel pens and adding newly-made tassie (blind cap) rings and jewels. In nearly all of his double-jewel listings that I have seen, the blind cap jewel's color is decidedly off.

Right now yeujeff/jeffriad seems to be lying low. Nothing is currently listed for sale on eBay, but neither has his account been deactivated. Now that he is starting to get bad feedback, including comments that accuse him of selling fakes, it is likely that he will eventually reappear under a new user name. We can all keep an eye out for him, though, by regularly searching for new sellers with a sudden abundance of rare Parkers: double-jewel 51s, Mandarin Duofolds, and 51 demonstrators, in particular. He might also be found by watching buyers of parts Duofolds: otherwise sound pens with badly discolored or cracked caps and barrels.

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