UPCOMING EVENTS

  • 05/27/16 - Stephenson's Auction...   05/27/16 - Carl E. Ocker...   05/28/16 - Smith Auction Company...   05/28/16 - Les Longenecker...   05/28/16 - John Wetmore Auction Center...   05/28/16 - Cordier Auctions & Appraisals...   05/28/16 - Keystone Auction LLC...   05/28/16 - Whitman Sink...   05/28/16 - John M. Hess Auction Service, Inc....   05/28/16 - Rentzels Auction Service, Inc....   05/28/16 - Interstate Auction Services...   05/28/16 - Boltz Auction Company...   05/27-28/16 - Dean R. Arner...   05/27-28/16 - Roan Inc. Auctioneers & Appraisers...   05/28/16 - Mike Diebert...   05/28/16 - Kimberly Hemingway...   05/28/16 - Concepts 1 Auction House...   05/29/16 - All Points Auction Company...   05/30/16 - Johnsville Auction House...   05/30/16 - Kenneth P. Leiby...   05/30/16 - Farmersville Auction, Inc....   05/30/16 - Hartzell's Auction Gallery, Inc....   05/30/16 - Wilson's Auction Sales, Inc....   05/27-28 & 5/30/16 - Neil A. Courtney & Kenneth E. Hassinger...   05/30/16 - Gateway Gallery Auction, Inc....   05/30/16 - Traver's Auctions...   05/31/16 - Roy D. Shirk...   05/31/16 - Alderfer Auction & Appraisal...   06/01/16 - Larry W. Garner...   06/01/16 - Wilson's Auction Gallery...   06/02/16 - Robert H. Clinton & Company, Inc....   06/03/16 - Michael J. Stasak, Jr., Michael Stasak, III, Laurel Fox...   06/03/16 - Garth's Auctioneers & Appraisers...   06/04/16 - Adams Auction Sales Service...   06/03-04/16 - Chupp Auctions & Real Estate LLC...   06/04/16 - Maurer's Auctions...   06/04/16 - RVP Auctions, Inc. Robert V. Polito...   06/04/16 - Blums...   06/03-04/16 - Morphy Auctions...   06/03-04/16 - Horst Auctioneers...   06/04/16 - Cordier Auctions & Appraisals...   06/05/16 - Costea's Auction Gallery...   06/05/16 - Morphy Auctions...   06/05/16 - Cordier Auctions & Appraisals...   06/06/16 - C & M Auctioneers...   06/06/16 - Toomey Auction Service, Inc....   06/07/16 - Conestoga Auction a Division of Hess Auction...   06/08/16 - Curtis Wilson...   06/08/16 - J. Pandur Auction Services, Inc....   06/09/16 - Alderfer Auction & Appraisal...   06/10/16 - PA Auction Center...   06/11/16 - Kimberly Hemingway...   06/11/16 - Conestoga Auction a Division of Hess Auction...   06/11/16 - C W Odds and Ends...   06/11/16 - Kerry Pae & Ryan Groff...   06/11/16 - Gateway Gallery Auction, Inc....   06/11/16 - Horst Auctioneers...   06/11/16 - Robert H. Clinton & Company, Inc....   06/10-11/16 - PA OnSite Auction Co. LLC...   06/14/16 - Barr Davis...   06/18/16 - C & M Auctioneers...   06/18/16 - Leaman Auctions Ltd....   06/24-25/16 - Morphy Auctions...   
  • 05/27/16 - Stephenson's Auction...   05/27/16 - Carl E. Ocker...   05/28/16 - Smith Auction Company...   05/28/16 - Les Longenecker...   05/28/16 - John Wetmore Auction Center...   05/28/16 - Cordier Auctions & Appraisals...   05/28/16 - Keystone Auction LLC...   05/28/16 - Whitman Sink...   05/28/16 - John M. Hess Auction Service, Inc....   05/28/16 - Rentzels Auction Service, Inc....   05/28/16 - Interstate Auction Services...   05/28/16 - Boltz Auction Company...   05/27-28/16 - Dean R. Arner...   05/27-28/16 - Roan Inc. Auctioneers & Appraisers...   05/28/16 - Mike Diebert...   05/28/16 - Kimberly Hemingway...   05/28/16 - Concepts 1 Auction House...   05/29/16 - All Points Auction Company...   05/30/16 - Johnsville Auction House...   05/30/16 - Kenneth P. Leiby...   05/30/16 - Farmersville Auction, Inc....   05/30/16 - Hartzell's Auction Gallery, Inc....   05/30/16 - Wilson's Auction Sales, Inc....   05/27-28 & 5/30/16 - Neil A. Courtney & Kenneth E. Hassinger...   05/30/16 - Gateway Gallery Auction, Inc....   05/30/16 - Traver's Auctions...   05/31/16 - Roy D. Shirk...   05/31/16 - Alderfer Auction & Appraisal...   06/01/16 - Larry W. Garner...   06/01/16 - Wilson's Auction Gallery...   06/02/16 - Robert H. Clinton & Company, Inc....   06/03/16 - Michael J. Stasak, Jr., Michael Stasak, III, Laurel Fox...   06/03/16 - Garth's Auctioneers & Appraisers...   06/04/16 - Adams Auction Sales Service...   06/03-04/16 - Chupp Auctions & Real Estate LLC...   06/04/16 - Maurer's Auctions...   06/04/16 - RVP Auctions, Inc. Robert V. Polito...   06/04/16 - Blums...   06/03-04/16 - Morphy Auctions...   06/03-04/16 - Horst Auctioneers...   06/04/16 - Cordier Auctions & Appraisals...   06/05/16 - Costea's Auction Gallery...   06/05/16 - Morphy Auctions...   06/05/16 - Cordier Auctions & Appraisals...   06/06/16 - C & M Auctioneers...   06/06/16 - Toomey Auction Service, Inc....   06/07/16 - Conestoga Auction a Division of Hess Auction...   06/08/16 - Curtis Wilson...   06/08/16 - J. Pandur Auction Services, Inc....   06/09/16 - Alderfer Auction & Appraisal...   06/10/16 - PA Auction Center...   06/11/16 - Kimberly Hemingway...   06/11/16 - Conestoga Auction a Division of Hess Auction...   06/11/16 - C W Odds and Ends...   06/11/16 - Kerry Pae & Ryan Groff...   06/11/16 - Gateway Gallery Auction, Inc....   06/11/16 - Horst Auctioneers...   06/11/16 - Robert H. Clinton & Company, Inc....   06/10-11/16 - PA OnSite Auction Co. LLC...   06/14/16 - Barr Davis...   06/18/16 - C & M Auctioneers...   06/18/16 - Leaman Auctions Ltd....   06/24-25/16 - Morphy Auctions...   
  • 05/27/16 - Stephenson's Auction...   05/27/16 - Carl E. Ocker...   05/28/16 - Smith Auction Company...   05/28/16 - Les Longenecker...   05/28/16 - John Wetmore Auction Center...   05/28/16 - Cordier Auctions & Appraisals...   05/28/16 - Keystone Auction LLC...   05/28/16 - Whitman Sink...   05/28/16 - John M. Hess Auction Service, Inc....   05/28/16 - Rentzels Auction Service, Inc....   05/28/16 - Interstate Auction Services...   05/28/16 - Boltz Auction Company...   05/27-28/16 - Dean R. Arner...   05/27-28/16 - Roan Inc. Auctioneers & Appraisers...   05/28/16 - Mike Diebert...   05/28/16 - Kimberly Hemingway...   05/28/16 - Concepts 1 Auction House...   05/29/16 - All Points Auction Company...   05/30/16 - Johnsville Auction House...   05/30/16 - Kenneth P. Leiby...   05/30/16 - Farmersville Auction, Inc....   05/30/16 - Hartzell's Auction Gallery, Inc....   05/30/16 - Wilson's Auction Sales, Inc....   05/27-28 & 5/30/16 - Neil A. Courtney & Kenneth E. Hassinger...   05/30/16 - Gateway Gallery Auction, Inc....   05/30/16 - Traver's Auctions...   05/31/16 - Roy D. Shirk...   05/31/16 - Alderfer Auction & Appraisal...   06/01/16 - Larry W. Garner...   06/01/16 - Wilson's Auction Gallery...   06/02/16 - Robert H. Clinton & Company, Inc....   06/03/16 - Michael J. Stasak, Jr., Michael Stasak, III, Laurel Fox...   06/03/16 - Garth's Auctioneers & Appraisers...   06/04/16 - Adams Auction Sales Service...   06/03-04/16 - Chupp Auctions & Real Estate LLC...   06/04/16 - Maurer's Auctions...   06/04/16 - RVP Auctions, Inc. Robert V. Polito...   06/04/16 - Blums...   06/03-04/16 - Morphy Auctions...   06/03-04/16 - Horst Auctioneers...   06/04/16 - Cordier Auctions & Appraisals...   06/05/16 - Costea's Auction Gallery...   06/05/16 - Morphy Auctions...   06/05/16 - Cordier Auctions & Appraisals...   06/06/16 - C & M Auctioneers...   06/06/16 - Toomey Auction Service, Inc....   06/07/16 - Conestoga Auction a Division of Hess Auction...   06/08/16 - Curtis Wilson...   06/08/16 - J. Pandur Auction Services, Inc....   06/09/16 - Alderfer Auction & Appraisal...   06/10/16 - PA Auction Center...   06/11/16 - Kimberly Hemingway...   06/11/16 - Conestoga Auction a Division of Hess Auction...   06/11/16 - C W Odds and Ends...   06/11/16 - Kerry Pae & Ryan Groff...   06/11/16 - Gateway Gallery Auction, Inc....   06/11/16 - Horst Auctioneers...   06/11/16 - Robert H. Clinton & Company, Inc....   06/10-11/16 - PA OnSite Auction Co. LLC...   06/14/16 - Barr Davis...   06/18/16 - C & M Auctioneers...   06/18/16 - Leaman Auctions Ltd....   06/24-25/16 - Morphy Auctions...   
Fooled By Fakes

April 14, 2016 Updated May 19, 2016

Fooled By Fakes

Thimbles

By Anita Stratos

In his book “Thimble Collector's Encyclopedia,” John J. Von Hoelle recounts a personal story that is at once humorous and a warning. He saw a thimble in an antique shop and asked to examine it. He was told with authority that the thimble had been tested and was real ivory and the band around it had tested as being at least 14 carat gold. The proprietor said it had been in one family for at least four generations and may have been made by a well-known thimble maker in the 1760s. It was being sold for over $300. When Von Hoelle looked inside the thimble, he realized why the piece had looked familiar to him: his own initials were carved inside - he had made the piece himself only three years earlier.
One of the most expensive thimbles ever sold at auction was purportedly given to Queen Elizabeth I by one of her ladies-in-waiting; although the actual gift-giver is in dispute, the owner is not. Sold in 2001, London's Financial Times reported that the historically important 16th-century jeweled gold thimble brought over $25,000 (by today's conversion rates).
Thimble collecting may not be as popular as it was just a couple of decades ago, but there's still a demand, especially for contemporary novelty pieces, sterling thimbles, and antiques. To make it worth a modern-day scammer's time and/or expense, the fakes, fantasies, and reproductions being made need to either copy a sought-after category or maker or claim to be a prototype that was never put into production. Scammers will also alter thimbles by adding new sterling hallmarks to old silver plate thimbles or by rubbing or scratching makers' marks off legitimate reproductions. However, during the many decades when more types of thimbles commanded much higher prices, a lot of fakes were produced. Therefore, buyers need to be aware that some fakes have actual age to them.
Sterling silver thimbles, particularly those from previous centuries, can command higher prices, so these are a common target of fakers. Originally, the marks on both silver plate and sterling silver thimbles were stamped or struck by hand; this included all marks, from hallmarks to pattern numbers. For a forger to acquire these stamps or even decent replicas would be time consuming and expensive, then add to that the time it takes to strike each mark. Instead, forgers use molds to create the marks. Molded or cast marks are not as sharply defined as struck marks, and every thimble made with that mold will have identical marks. So if you see a seller with multiple sterling or silver plate thimbles - even if they have different designs - check to make sure the marks are not exactly the same.
Antique sterling thimbles contained a different silver content than contemporary sterling silver. Forgers have been known to melt down a modern sterling object, then use that silver to make forgeries of antique sterling thimbles. A test to show the actual silver content of the thimble will prove the time period in which the silver itself was produced. This test disproved a claim by a large auction house that several sterling silver thimbles were 16th- and 17th-century English pieces; when the test was performed after the pieces were sold, the silver content was more contemporary and the auction house refunded well over $10,000 to the buyers.
It is important to have a general knowledge of the types and extent of decoration on thimbles from different centuries. For example, 16th-century thimbles were more simply decorated and of a shorter height, but a fake may have too much decoration and/or be too tall.
A name that would definitely raise interest is Fabergé; however, experts disagree as to whether any thimbles were actually made by the renowned Russian maker. While we certainly cannot enter into that argument, we can make some positive determinations that will rule out a Fabergé association. Some alleged Fabergé thimbles contain the initials of a known workmaster, but the mark indicating where the piece was made is not a city where that particular workmaster worked; sometimes it is also known that the workmaster never created that specific style of object. In other cases, the workmaster's initials are coupled with a year either before or after he worked for Fabergé. A dead giveaway to a fake is when you see the name "Fabergé" (possibly written in Cyrillic, sometimes not) as well as the German 800 mark, confirming the piece was not made in Russia.
Russian enamel filigree thimbles, both old and new, are made with hand-applied filigree wire. If you find a supposedly Russian enamel filigree thimble that has been molded, it is not Russian. Although the workmanship of contemporary Russian enamel filigree thimbles has become cruder, the filigree is still applied by hand.
The whale thimble pictured with this column was made in China for a program that was presented at the 2004 Thimble Collectors International (TCI) convention on scrimshaw. The thimble is made from cattle shin bone and was tea-smoked to give it an aged appearance. However, TCI members have seen it being sold in online auctions with a description of "antique" and "rare."
The best way to get a good understanding of authentic vs. fake thimbles is to join a knowledgeable collecting group like the Thimble Collectors International (TCI). This organization is home to many experienced thimble and sewing goods collectors who are more than willing to share their years of accumulated knowledge. Their website has pictures of authentic, fake, and reproduction thimbles to help you understand the differences. Handling authentic thimbles and becoming familiar with their correct weight and size as well as a good reference source and collecting group can help you from being fooled by a fake.

All photos are of fakes and courtesy of the Thimble Collectors International.

At A Glance:
1. Molded marks on silver.
2. Wrong silver content for era.
3. Cast Russian filigree thimble.
4. Fabergé mark with German 800 mark.
5. Shoddy workmanship.

Reference books, websites and collecting groups are the best ways to keep from being fooled by fakes. Here are a few: Thimble Collectors International (www.thimblecollectors.com), “Thimble Collector's Encyclopedia” by John J. Von Hoelle, “The Story of the Thimble” by Bridget McConnel, and “A History of Thimbles” by Edwin E. Holmes.

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