Monday, May 21, 2018

Fake alert: advertising signs from India

Many pen collectors also collect pen-related material, such as point of sale displays and advertising. For the most part, the market for such material has been too small and too low-dollar to attract much interest from fakers. The exception is porcelain enamel signs, where a voracious, high-dollar market for original signs advertising automobilia, Coca Cola, etc has given rise to industrial scale manufacture of reproductions -- with the manufacturers now turning out signs with a narrower market as well, including pen signs. The most commonly seen are for Waterman, with the great majority coming out of India.

The sign above is typical, and has been offered repeatedly on eBay by Indian sellers. They usually have been banged up a bit so they don't look quite as new as they actually are. Unfortunately, eBay doesn't seem to be doing anything to crack down on what is now a veritable deluge of fake porcelain signs. You can get some indication of the magnitude of the fakery by this Pinterest post, which points out no less than 303 examples. There's also no shortage of sites and forum posts discussing the problem and proffering advice. Unfortunately, it is often difficult to identify a repro without having a genuine example for comparison. In the case of the sign above, I happen to have an example of the original that served as its model, so it is comparatively easy to see that the letters are sloppily shaped on the repro.

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