Real or Fake?

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Is the pottery you have the real thing, a copy or fake?

Articles on fakes and reproductions:

Stoke on Trent Newspaper: The Sentinel 14 January 2003

Trading Standards chiefs are confident of intercepting the remaining part of a counterfeit pottery shipment destined for Stoke-on-Trent.
They say a link-up with Customs and Excise gives them a better chance of seizing the estimated 700,000 mugs still believed to be en route to the Potteries.
About 175,000 china mugs, worth £500,000 and with misleading Made in England backstamps, have already been confiscated at Felixstowe and they want to frustrate the counterfeiters by intercepting the remaining shipment, worth up to £2.1 million.

A meeting is to be held on Thursday with officials from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to discuss future ways of combating counterfeit ceramics. West Midlands MEPs Malcolm Harbour and Michael Cashman are currently calling for action against the counterfeiters to reduce cheap imports and counterfeits which flood the £600 million UK tableware market - a market worth £3 billion across the EU.

Pottery chiefs fear the 'backstamp', a statement of quality, will be weakened by the flood of illegal imports unless action is taken to frustrate the suppliers.
Stoke-on-Trent Trading Standards spokesman John Ashcroft said: 

"This is the first time we have stopped ceramics coming into the country in this way.

"Our change in approach is revealing the extent of the problem. We could not find 175,000 ceramics items in one place if they had got into the country.
"We want to talk to the DTI about the size of the problem. If the Government is to introduce legislation, we want to make sure that whoever is responsible for enforcement has adequate powers. What we need is a simple transparent system, so if it says it's English, we can be sure it is. We must discuss what the DTI feels is practical to find a solution to this."

The consignment of china mugs, believed to have been imported from India, was seized at Felixstowe docks.

John Barber, regional spokesman for Customs and Excise said: 

"We have been working very closely with Stoke-on-Trent Trading Standards. Our primary aim is to work on counterfeit items on behalf of local authorities. Our officers are on the lookout to see if those mugs are coming in to ports and we will be liaising with other Customs and Excise teams to make sure they are picked out.

"This is one of a range of issues that have to be dealt with, just as we target drugs."

Mayor Mike Wolfe said: 

"I think this has demonstrated a significant effort in identifying culprits further up the supply chain. Usually these things are found on a market stall but we have stopped them entering the market in North Staffordshire.
"I hope this will allow us to guarantee to the public in North Staffordshire and across Britain that a backstamp guarantees quality.
"At the moment some are stealing our reputation for quality."

Fake Royal Doulton:
TRADING Standards officers have issued a warning to the trade to be on the alert for fake Royal Doulton.

Several pieces have come to light, including Lambeth Ware. It appears that the fakers, thought to be based in the Midlands, have taken new moulds from genuine pieces and produced items that do not have the detail of the originals.

The paintwork is questionable, too, with colors either far too bright to be realistic (e.g. bright royal blue instead of a gentler shade) or the "stoneware" just badly painted, with some areas noticeably lighter than others, producing a patchy effect.

In the case of Īchineā (where lace was laid over the stoneware which was painted through the lace to resemble tapestries with the material burnt off in the kiln), it is even easier to spot the fakes: where the decoration should be delicate, the fakers daubed it on and where the colors should be subtle, the fakers used bright, new-looking "gold".

One of the easiest ways to spot a forgery is the cleanliness of the base - it simply has no age to it. Also, where the originals had incised or gently painted numbers on their bases, the fakes are marked with shiny black felt tip pen.

Fakes and Reproductions: Is there a difference?

So what is the difference between a fake and a reproduction? Well, at first glance, a plate may look like an original piece of classic blue and white. It has a strong frontal colour, good impress marks and an acceptable back stamp. But when examines in detail it becomes obvious that the impress marks mean nothing (in fact one looks like it was done with the sharp end of a biro!). The back stamp mark also shows evidence that it has been deliberately "rubbed" to give the impression of age.

A visual inspection can sometimes only reveal part of the story. Feeling the surface any piece of china or ceramic that you are intending to purchase is just as important as this can reveal flaws missed by the human eye. With a little experience to back it up, a tactile inspection can also confirm or dispel any suspicions we may hold as to the authenticity of the piece. When we examined our plate this way we found that it actually weighed more and was a little bit thicker than a similarly sized conventional piece of blue and white.

So, putting all the evidence together and treating it with a sceptical attitude and a modicum of common sense, it becomes quite easy to establish that what we have is in fact a fake.

While a fake is made to fool you into believing that what you've bought is in fact an original, a reproduction is totally the opposite. It is a remake of an earlier design; a new production made to fill a hole in the market. If you like the reproduction design and you can live with, well... that's fine. Fakes are made to fool you; reproductions are not. It's as simple as that!

 Jan 2003