Replicas and Forgeries
Western Governors University
Replicas and Forgeries
Fakes, forgeries and replicas have been created for centuries. Determining the difference between them has been an issue of growing importance. Hundreds of books have been written on the subject and there are professions and organizations built around determining the true nature of an object. For the purposes of this paper and object may be a work of art, a document or an artifact. A replica is a copy of an original object that is not presented as the original. The replica is not considered the original even if it is made of the same materials and constructed in the same fashion as the original ...view middle of the document...
Deception in representing the object may not always involve a new version of the object. The whole realm of conservation and restoration can be used to represent the object as something other than its true nature. Condition of an original object can be very important to a collector. Most conservation to objects consists of cleaning, repair of visible damage, reinforcement of weak structures and reconstruction of severely damaged or missing sections of the work. If this work is documented and known to the potential buyers of the object it may change how the object is viewed. No matter how good the craftsmanship the additions and repairs of a restorer may be viewed as forgery of an object. Savage (1963) warns his readers about dishonest restorers, “But restoration done for the purpose of deceiving a buyer into thinking that an object is in better condition than it is must always be fraudulent” (p.274).
The original fake has been an area of much controversy in the art and archeological world. It is know that original objects have been copied and reproduced for centuries. Research has found some reproductions have come to be valued as greatly as original works of art (Haskell & Penny, 1998). To determine if objects are replicas, fakes or forgeries it is necessary to see if the intent was to be deceptive about the true nature of the object. The concept of original and copy have changed over time. It is well documented that Renaissance masters sold paintings done by their assistants as if they had done the work themselves. “In this case the masters’ originality meant the individuality and novelty of the artistic idea and style, as well as his supervision of the execution” (Radnóti,1999, p.52). The intent of the artists is somewhat different when viewing some of the recent South American pottery. The pottery created today is from the same raw material and the artists are using the same molds that were used 3000 years ago. Stanish observers the profit from forgeries is greater than finding and selling originals. “The short answer is that many of the primary "producers" of the objects have shifted from looting sites to faking antiquities“(Stanish, 2009). The difference between the renaissance masters and the South American potters is intent to deceive. The masters sold the objects as their creative work and the South American potters sell theirs as forged pre-Columbian artifacts.
The original, the forgery and the replica carry with them a perceived value. The value can be discussed in terms of culture, style, impact or influence on other artists and of course the monetary value given to an object. It has become difficult to separate the monetary component from the objects. Savage (1963) viewed the art-market as the acceptable vehicle for the transfer and evaluation of objects; “…, but the art-market is even more essential than before because it is the only way of assessing value” (p.243). The value of objects has been...