Fakes and Frauds

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ed
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Fakes and Frauds

Post by ed » Tue Apr 14, 2015 12:17 pm

I suppose if you collect anything, you will eventually be faced with a fake. By fake, I mean an object intended to deceive. There are many good reproductions of arms and armor but they are marked in such a way that their origin is clear.

I am talking about fakes, lying pieces of shit that separate you from your money. And I am talking about one faker in particular, a conniving bastard named Joe Walter of Missouri.

Some years ago, in the early 80's I believe, I was interested in American swords and polearms. Thru a friend I was exposed to an outfit called "The House of Swords and Militaria". I got my hands on a catalog and immediately felt a buzzing on the edges of my conciousness. That's a lie. I KNEW something was really wrong. The catalog was full of rarities, real rarities. Stuff that just does not come on the market. And ione of a kind things. Like this:
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This is what is known as a "fantasy piece", something that is not a fake because the original never existed. It is made up, hokum, bullshit. "But", you think as you push down the rational part of your brain, "maybe there were just a few and THAT is why no one knows about it". Ah! The wishful thinking of the true collector!! No, I did not get suckered in by this piece of shit, I was far too clever for that.

An aside: Years before, I vacationed in that vast desolation that is called Maine. There was a little antique store there and they had a knife that looked like this:
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The one they had (and that I bought for $60) was a bit different, there was no swastika, just the makers name "Eickhorn", correct I might add. Now I don't collect Nazi stuff, it is pretty distasteful IMHO but this was just damn odd and was not terribly expensive and, as all collectors know, there is always the chance of finding "something" that is rare, unknown, valuable etc etc. This was my first exposure to "fantasy" pieces. Pure bullshit, made up. Doubtless make by Eickhorn (a big supplier to the Nazis) but post WW2 and for the GI trade. In fact, a good reason for not collecting Nazi stuff, aside from the ethical, is that it is faked left and right. It started right after the war when factories assembled left over pieces. Were they "authentic"? Welllllllllllll ... yeah, but "not of the period". I digress ...

So Mr. Walter was a faker. His catalogs were wondrous collections of stuff that, if real, would have commanded tens of thousands of dollars.

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Note the prices. You could buy decorations (Pour le Merite for peanuts!!) Crusader armor!!! and concentration garb and badges and whatnot: all fake. I should take the catalog that I have and scan it in it's entirety. Absolutely amazing stuff. And for virtually free.

Anyway, I was hooked. I bought 2 or three swords, a Naval Cutlass, a Dragoon Saber and something else, I think. All of them might have cost $500.

The alarm bells, which were going off full time but muffled, became a bit louder when the stuff arrived.

I was not an expert at the time, and I'm probably not much better now, but the things looked WRONG. The cutlass grip was almost suede like in appearance, the wire wrap on the grip of the Dragoon saber was not correct. "Then again", I told myself, "these things were made by the 10's of thousands for many sources and variations were not only possible, they were probable. Why, a perfect example would be suspect!!!"

n.b.the grips of the US Naval Cutlass did not have the brass wire wrapping (it would corrode is seconds) and was generally varnished to protect it. Evidentially they were in service to the time of WW2. This is what a real one looks like:
Image

The Gods were chortling at this point as they looked down.

So, in order to examine the pieces bettr, I started cleaning them. I was cleaning the Dragoon Saber when I noticed something on the blade. Was it writing? Maybe but it was damn small. I cleaned it and looked closely. The letters swam from the mists of disbelief and stood out clearly:

hecho en España

hecho en España

hecho en España

hecho en España


I checked my Spanish English dictionary to be sure but, yes.

:(

Then I got mad.
:x :x :x :x :x

Fucker cheated ME!!!!

CHEATED ED!!!!!

:x :x :x :x :x :x :x :x

I did what any aggrieved 'Merican would do, I called the FBI. Interstate commerce and all.

To not put too fine a point on it, the agent explained that Mr. Walter was really sorta small time. Be pointed out that if I confronted him he would doubtless give me my money back, no questions asked. He'd say that he was a legit guy but bad things can slip thru.

Thats exactly what happened. Got back every penny.

I understand that Mr. Walter was shot to death in a parking lot some years ago. Something about bags of nickels or something.

There is a lesson here, damned if I know what it is though. :D
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Re: Fakes and Frauds

Post by Rob Lister » Tue Apr 14, 2015 12:38 pm

ed wrote:I understand that Mr. Walter was shot to death in a parking lot some years ago. Something about bags of nickels or something.
Where you FIRST in understanding that?

Just askin'.

Anyway, given the prices listed in your sample page of the catalog, it seems like making those fakes would cost more than the asking price for them. Is there perhaps a fake factory out there that can produce fakes and crazy low prices? Seems like a razor thin margin.

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Re: Fakes and Frauds

Post by ed » Tue Apr 14, 2015 12:55 pm

Rob Lister wrote:
ed wrote:I understand that Mr. Walter was shot to death in a parking lot some years ago. Something about bags of nickels or something.
Where you FIRST in understanding that?

Just askin'.

Anyway, given the prices listed in your sample page of the catalog, it seems like making those fakes would cost more than the asking price for them. Is there perhaps a fake factory out there that can produce fakes and crazy low prices? Seems like a razor thin margin.
He imported from Spain and India thru Canada. The blades were etched with a vibrating pencil after the act that required markings as to country of origin for new goods.

The stuff probably cost him $10 all in.

Really amazing. I talked to Stuart Mobray who published Man at Arms, a collectors magazine, and he said "oh, you didn't know?" I was the subject of an editorial about "an outraged CT collector" or something like that. :D
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Re: Fakes and Frauds

Post by scarlett_35 » Tue Apr 14, 2015 12:55 pm

I read all that and you don't even know what the lesson was :x

My grandfather brought a knife back from Germany after WWII with a Swastika on it, it's the real deal. It gave me a weird, unsettling, sad feeling when I held it in my hand

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Re: Fakes and Frauds

Post by DrMatt » Wed Apr 15, 2015 12:59 pm

So, you mean the chicks in chainmail thong bikinis aren't real dragon-slayers? Just fantasies?
Grayman wrote:If masturbation led to homosexuality you'd think by now I'd at least have better fashion sense.

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Re: Fakes and Frauds

Post by Abdul Alhazred » Wed Apr 15, 2015 1:09 pm

DrMatt wrote:So, you mean the chicks in chainmail thong bikinis aren't real dragon-slayers? Just fantasies?
Real dragon slaying chicks do it in the nude, bit there is some minimal censorship. :P
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Re: Fakes and Frauds

Post by ed » Fri Aug 03, 2018 11:22 am

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You know, I knew Joe from House of Swords very well as he lived in the Kansas City area. Of course one still sees his swords at area gun and militaria shows and they are never identified as coming from his basement shop. As far as "original" swords I do remember seeing bundles and barrels of old original blades along with bits and pieces that he would cobble together to make an "original sword" out of original parts with a few new bits and pieces. As time went on there were fewer original blades and more re-cast parts. He was quite the assembler.

Another trick he would use was that he employed an old time engraver who could do very passable hand engraving. So Joe, clever fellow that he was, would have bogus presentations engraved on entirely original swords to enhance their value. He was smart enough to look up the particulars of a battle, Medal of Honor award, etc for an officer or NCO in the ORs to make the engraved presentation look correct for time and place. These are the most insidious of his creations because when fact checked by a new owner it appears correct.

As we all know, buy the sword and not the story.
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