Where Yesterday Meets Tomorrow
Black related ephemera seems particularly prone to forgery. Watch out especially for blatantly racist items, Bull Durham advertising; black advertising fans, slavery related items, etc. ACRN reports that Gold Dust Soap boxes have been so heavily counterfeited that most of the boxes being offered for sale and fakes! The same is true for Bull Durham items and advertising fans.
The surest test - one that should be applied to all paper items - is to look at the printing under 10x magnification (using the pocket loupe that you, of course, always carry with you.) On counterfeits, the wear, age marks, even the crayoned in price, are often printed along with the background image. So you can look at these marks and find the tell-tale grid-like pattern of dots indicating offset printing. ACRN also reports that new paper fluoresces bright white under black light.
Another indicator is the pattern of aging. Items are often put into smoke houses to color the paper. The smoke effects the edges of the paper, but not the paper near the center of the pile. If the edges are lined with gray or brown but the rest of the paper doesn't show a similar color, be cautious. If the age had come from hanging on a wall, it would effect the entire sheet, not just an 1/8th inch along the edges.
There are many other items to watch out for. Fake political posters, rock posters and tickets, sports posters, and Marilyn Monroe calendars are all common. Liberty Magazine Calendars from the 1920s were reprinted in the 1970s. In small print it says something like "1927 dates are the same as 1976 dates." They usually draw $20 or $30 bids. We recently saw a reprinted Dionne paper doll book sell for $40 (The auctioneer said it was authentic even though the reprint date was printed right on it.)
© 1997-2002 Coxsackie Antique Center