This is the second post in a short series we'll do on the eBay pitfalls we identified in an earlier post. Martin and I intend to expand on this in an e-Book.
They're not the same thing. Here's the caveat: there's nothing wrong with a reproduction as long as it's disclosed. Some reproductions can, in fact be worth a pretty penny. Samson of Paris, for example, made a living reproducing the decorations of the top houses, and today their work is recognised, collectable and often highly valuable.
When work done in the style of another is clearly marked or marketed as such, no one has a problem with it. After all, the proverb tells us that 'imitation is the sincerest form of flattery'. It's perfectly fine to buy and sell art done 'in the school of famous name', for example, or a ceramic vase 'in the manner of' Sevres or Meissen.
What is not acceptable is when someone tries to defraud by pretending that a relatively worthless item is a priceless treasure, in order to get more money for it. That's when it's called a fake.
How can you prevent such things on eBay? You can't. You can, however, take some simple steps to minimise the danger of being ripped off.
- Be sensible. You are no more likely to find an important antique 'last sold by Christie's' going for $100 on eBay that you are to find genuine silk scarves going for .99 cents at a Hong Kong open air market. Keep your wits about you and be realistic.
- Be educated. Ask questions. Go look at the genuine article in a shop or two. Know what the prices are like.
- Read the spiel. I mean really examine it. Once you get to be a bit informed, you can spot discrepancies that should set off warning bells in your brain.
- Examine the photos. If they're not good, ask for better ones.
- Pay attention to what the other buyers are doing. Are the other bidders experienced? Do they always buy silver, porcelain...whatever it is that you're looking at...? eBay has a lot of members; if no one's bidding or querying, ask yourself why.