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I know that there are many good hand engravers out there who could replicate with some skill the style of engraving that we see in genuine period pieces.

The potential to turn a far higher profit by faking something is never ignored entirely. Different topic I know but look on certain auction sites this year since the interest in WW1 and the centenary has widened the market to inexperienced collectors. You'd think that all the Germans did was shoot british soldiers in the wallet. Never seen so many 1914 pennies with a bullet lodged in them. I know it's a far cry from a well engraved EK fake but the principle for fakers is the same. Money from something made more desirable than it originally was.

I got burned once many years ago with a piece that was very well hand engraved in a period style. I took quite a leap of faith thinking I'd found something of a golden nugget and ignored my gut feeling. Turned out it was a fake engraving.

Typically it was a really attractive unit and prominent historic event. I just ignored my gut as I've said.

For me it is a piece by piece decision. So many things to take into consideration and In my experience the quality and style of the engraving is only a small part of that process.

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I agree with Chris however, does the average engraver today have the skill to engrave by hand, with the same care a 1930s engraver did? It's probably all automated today and most engravers hopefully lack the necessary freehand skill. Being very wary of the unusual is always good.

Tony

Hi,

There are indeed artists who are still to be found today... a few years ago there were some guys who were engraving all kinds of silver things and turning them into SS presentation things...

I think the truth is probably that the average jewller cannot do it... but like with anything, there are individuals who can... and if one of then gets into the Cross engraving market....

With these things it is always a question of faith. I probably passed over 10-20 originals and the same amount of fakes until I found one where I thought "now i am confident!!"

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I agree with all of the above. The skillset that existed years ago does not necessarily exist today. Yet, even if its not prevalent, there are folks who can still do it. Also, almost 100 years has passed - that's a lot of time for an original EK to get "enhanced". As I learned doing research for my book project, EVERYTHING has been faked. I was surprised to find the number of EK Vorschlagslisten out there that are bad. I would have never thought that these things would be faked to the extent that they have - it's simply amazing to see the write-ups that exist, rationale for the award of the EK, that are actually total BS - the soldier and the events are completely made up. There are V-lists out there with really convincing stamps, clerical "notes" and signatures that are just total garbage.

I agree with you guys in that it's a "gut" thing - it's a matter of judging various aspects of an engraved cross, like a combination of content, patina, style, etc. Engraving is unique in that the rules that apply to most types of militaria as far as determining authenticity don't necessarily apply. It's such a unique market that - often times good pieces are passed over, just because we can't be sure. I think there a lot of good crosses out there that lose out (they don't offer a collector the comfort level needed) once they are separated from supporting documentation and/or provenance.

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It’s interesting to see people are discussing the same topic in different forums.

http://www.wehrmacht-awards.com/forums/showthread.php?t=780113

 

I agree with you guys in that it's a "gut" thing - it's a matter of judging various aspects of an engraved cross, like a combination of content, patina, style, etc.

 

In contrary gut feeling is not about judging various details on technical level, but taking an over all look. It's a feeling that have been developed over years by observing original pieces, not only engraved EKs but plain medals and all kind of period pieces made from similar material. It’s a sense that how stuff should look like after years of wearing, tarnishing and even damaging.

 

The original EKs have engraves done first, then came the decades of wear and aging. It might be easy for a skilled craftsman to engrave a piece in certain style, but in my opinion almost impossible to do without breaking the integrity of original look of entire cross. Unless a skilled engraver could craft and age the engravings, at the same time preserve all naturally formed characters on the entire object without leaving signs, their fakes are detectable by experienced collector with gut feeling.

 

Gun engraving is really not a sounding argument here since that only show how good the engravings skills are out there, after all you won’t take a modern engraved gun as something done during the war time.

 

Anyway I have to admit the gut feeling, or relying solely on gut feeling could make people to overpass something which might be good. My personal experience is that this is not due to the accuracy of gut feeling when judging originality, in fact it’s more reliable than judging from separate details, it’s a personal taste thing. When someone have seen enough and developed a good sense of originals, it’s a tendency that only the best and elite ones are accepted, it’s not just only original but have to be up to certain standard, you can see that kind of desire when people show off their pieces.

Edited by lew
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Hi,

 

I think it harder than that... I have seen old engravings on regular silverwear where the piece istelf is patina covered... but the inside of the engravings silver... and polised silver pieces were the inside of the engravings were filled with dirt...

 

Also, it is possible to have a late award, barely worn, with an engraving, then kept in a drawer... or someone who got a cross in 1914, wore it throughout the war, then had it engraved in 1920, then wore it further on other uniforms.... or an engraved cross given as a present and never worn....

 

There are probably as many combinations and posibilities as there were crosses awarded.

 

As far as people doing the engraving.... most old crafts still have a hard core on enthousiats who practice just to keep it alive... we are all digital, but plenty of people who are still hardcore and develope and print photos in the basement... or shave with a staright razor... or dont buy readymade curry powder but mix it themselves.... and, as such, there are still hobby engraves out there, maybe they are not as good as the topline engravers of back then, but they are surely as good as the "average" engraver of back then....

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Gun engraving is really not a sounding argument here since that only show how good the engravings skills are out there, after all you won’t take a modern engraved gun as some work done during the war time.

It answered the question wrt people being out there that have the skills to do hand engraving and therefore is valid. If you think a period cross cannot be hand engraved today and then aged you are only fooling yourself.  Of course it can be done. It all depends on the knowledge and skill of the perp. And if he is familar with old German language usage that would make it even worse.  

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The skill sets of the modern gun type fellow can be used to replicate an accepted font and style, his job done it goes to the next person that artificially ages the item creates the wear marks etc, I am sure there are many ways to do this with chemicals?   You just have to look at 'Spasm's' skill in what he does.  Nothing is impossible for the right price sadly.  Perhaps the key to stopping forgery is not to pay so much over the odds for an engraved piece in the first place?

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Hi,

 

I think it harder than that... I have seen old engravings on regular silverwear where the piece istelf is patina covered... but the inside of the engravings silver... and polised silver pieces were the inside of the engravings were filled with dirt...

 

Also, it is possible to have a late award, barely worn, with an engraving, then kept in a drawer... or someone who got a cross in 1914, wore it throughout the war, then had it engraved in 1920, then wore it further on other uniforms.... or an engraved cross given as a present and never worn....

 

There are probably as many combinations and posibilities as there were crosses awarded.

 

As far as people doing the engraving.... most old crafts still have a hard core on enthousiats who practice just to keep it alive... we are all digital, but plenty of people who are still hardcore and develope and print photos in the basement... or shave with a staright razor... or dont buy readymade curry powder but mix it themselves.... and, as such, there are still hobby engraves out there, maybe they are not as good as the topline engravers of back then, but they are surely as good as the "average" engraver of back then....

 

I’m afraid in the area of engraved EK, many of pieces(more than half may be) are hard to draw conclusion with and doomed to be in mystery, as sad as that.

However if look at the bright side of it, it might not be a bad thing to keep high standard, and pass on the black and white part of the knowledge to new collectors.

It happened in some collecting areas before that arguable ideas or objects have confused people, and eventually became acceptable along time.

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It answered the question wrt people being out there that have the skills to do hand engraving and therefore is valid. If you think a period cross cannot be hand engraved today and then aged you are only fooling yourself.  Of course it can be done. It all depends on the knowledge and skill of the perp. And if he is familar with old German language usage that would make it even worse.  

 

Logically yes, but I would like to discuss the matter base on exiting examples and fact, not if.

Many detectable fakes we have seen so far already have high quality engravings, but not close enough to period piece, same as fake patina.

For the possibility of particular good fakes that have already being accepted as original, logically it might exist but not to large number. And I’m trying to express here that we should keep at least certain standard and keep tracking the good ones.

I know it’s just matter of time for fakers to develop new process and technique in order to make better copies, then we have see how collector community will adapt and behave in the future.

Edited by lew
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There is no "Close enough to period piece" IMHO... simply because not all engravers back then had a high standard... some would have been pretty mediocre...

 

Also difficult to keep track of good ones as there is little proof for any of them... so what i consider good, you may not, and vice versa :-(

 

I think as with any collecting field were variation is infanite, engraved crosses will always be a section with gut feeling and belief in individual pieces...

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I completely agree with Chris. There is no particular style to follow, and I don't necessarily agree with the "Imperial Standard". Not everyone had the same skill level back then. The way we judge these engraved crosses is based on our own comfort level. We have a checklist we follow as individuals to determine authenticity, but that checklist likely varies from collector to collector. There are a lot of nice items that are fake and simple engravings that are real, and patina can vary depending on a variety of factors. I still believe that a lot of good engravings get passed over, because they don't offer the collector the confidence and comfort level often needed. This is a "gut" area of collecting.

Edited by Brian R
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Perhaps the key to stopping forgery is not to pay so much over the odds for an engraved piece in the first place?

 

My friend, you just made an old man very sad.

Just kidding.

 

Well that’s one way but not a positive one I have to say.

All you need to do is don’t panic. There’re always better fakes in this business, and there’re always new tricks to detect them.   

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There is no "Close enough to period piece" IMHO... simply because not all engravers back then had a high standard... some would have been pretty mediocre...

 

Also difficult to keep track of good ones as there is little proof for any of them... so what i consider good, you may not, and vice versa :-(

 

I think as with any collecting field were variation is infanite, engraved crosses will always be a section with gut feeling and belief in individual pieces...

 

That I can't agree more.

For the ones that are not up to high standard I will leave them to other experts to solve since my gut has grown too big and my wallet has became too small :banger:

I see my part of the responsibility (if any) as a collector in this area under current circumstances, is to hold the bar and keep reminding people how good the imperial standard quality could be, no matter they're interested or not.

Edited by lew
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