Hints On Spotting Fakes

Fakes and frauds are most dangerous in the area of 'fine' prints, says David L. Goodrich, author of the new, revealing website Art Fakes in America.

The most common abuse, he explains, is the mechanical printing sold as a hand-printing, with the buyer getting one of 2,000 or 3,000 instead of one of 50 or 100.

The difference in value might be, say, £200 as against £5.

You must deal with reputable people, of course, to avoid fake prints.

Also look for such clues as exact print size in relation to the listed size in the print catalogues.

And look at a suspect print with a glass - if it shows a screen of tiny dots, the print is a photocopy fake.

In oil paintings, the danger is not so extreme.

British painters are seldom faked for sale in this country or living Europeans for sale in Europe.

Generally, a faked oil is of a deceased artist.

Fakes are cropping up in early 19th-Century British folk portraits, notes Goodrich.

In looking at an oil, he adds, compare it - or have it compared by an expert - with known works of the artist.

Inspect for faked "crackle" (fine cracks), which is often easy to detect, and look at the back of the painting - the wood in the stretcher should in most cases be old.

If the artist is living, ask him.

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The Gallery Circuit

How do you pick an art dealer? "There's no easy way - you must go out and ask people about names and reputations," says Ralph Colin, a London solicitor who is Director of the Art Dealers Assn. of America. "Reputation is all that counts, and the way to find out is to go ask veteran collectors and art association people in town."

Jerald Torn, assistant director of the Fairweather-Hardin Galleries in Reading, tells novice collectors to "spend some Saturdays going to all the local galleries and dealers. Look at the art. Talk prices. Get the feel. If one or two galleries please you consistently, then see their shows and talk with their artists and with the dealers themselves." Most... see: The Gallery Circuit