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Selling an instrument with a fake label.


Michael H
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I have an instrument that has been recently identified, but carries a fake label. I remember discussing whether or not to remove a fake label previously, but my question now pertains to the correct wording. Do I A) not mention the fake label, B) say it carries a fake label, or C) something else?

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I do not remove fake labels unless I think there is an original label underneath. I do point out to the buyer that the label is not correct, put the correct attribution on the sales receipt and describe the label as false on the sales receipt besides.

A typical sales receipt might read "French violin by Jules Grandjon with spurious label of JB Vuillaume."

There are many cases where the spurious label was put in when the instrument was made and can be part of it's history and a clue to it's real origin.

 

 

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Though I completely agree with the policy to make a declaration about the fake label to the buyer of the instrument, I am sometimes inclined to 'restore' the instrument to the best original condition. This means if a label was removed at some point, just go back to this stage. 

Leaving a very obviously faked label in a violin would make me feel that I somehow tolerate the act of inserting a false label. 

I keep in mind that if the buyer with a violin that carries a false label will some time I the future sell his/her instrument, the whole trouble might start again. 

Note: sometimes makers inserted false labels in their own fakes and care should be taken to remove without good reason a label. In case I wouldn't be sure, I would leave it inside. However hastily photocopied labels with smear of dirt on it or labels cut out from books are for me definitely candidates to go to the garbage bin. 

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8 hours ago, Andreas Preuss said:

I keep in mind that if the buyer with a violin that carries a false label will some time I the future sell his/her instrument, the whole trouble might start again. 

If you take an old fake label out, eventually somebody else will probably put another one back in.

Because they are part of the history of a vintage violin, I think dealers and sellers should leave them alone and fully disclose that it is not an authentic label. Often, the inauthenticity is fairly obvious.

Nowadays, the market is being seeded with well-made deliberate counterfeits bearing fake brands ("iron marks") as well as fake labels. Enough of them have made it from the South of France to the United States that they are showing up for sale here with the origins obscured. Despite the fact that some of them are decent violins, I wonder if the best course of action is for dealers and professionals simply refuse to trade in them at all.

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In some cases a fake label is considered historically interesting. For example 18th century Mwalders often usen an Amati or Stainer label. I think many people who are interested in these instruments want to keep it there.

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3 hours ago, GeorgeH said:

 

If you take an old fake label out, eventually somebody else will probably put another one back in.

Because they are part of the history of a vintage violin, I think dealers and sellers should leave them alone and fully disclose that it is not an authentic label. Often, the inauthenticity is fairly obvious.

That's they question. I'd say the chances that another fake label is inserted in such an instrument are 50/50.

If I remember correctly from the book 'violins fraud and deception' sellers are in legal terms in some countries obliged to take them out.

(Whatever this means. Who knows about it?)

However more than often I have met clients with an (to us professionals) obvious fake violin believing it could be original just because the label has a nice name on it. And even if the owner is not convinced the name of the label is true they think the instrument comes from that region. (Mostly Italy)

Customers with an instrument without any label cherish their instruments more for what they are and how they sound. 

 

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On May 27, 2020 at 8:36 AM, GeorgeH said:

 

If you take an old fake label out, eventually somebody else will probably put another one back in.

Because they are part of the history of a vintage violin, I think dealers and sellers should leave them alone and fully disclose that it is not an authentic label. Often, the inauthenticity is fairly obvious.

Nowadays, the market is being seeded with well-made deliberate counterfeits bearing fake brands ("iron marks") as well as fake labels. Enough of them have made it from the South of France to the United States that they are showing up for sale here with the origins obscured. Despite the fact that some of them are decent violins, I wonder if the best course of action is for dealers and professionals simply refuse to trade in them at all.

I am assuming these are not reproductions of old masters but rather of more modern but now valuable instruments. If you have any pertinent information about these "South of France" instruments could you please share it?

As far as not trading in a genre of instruments because of an abundance of fakes I think there will always be player dealers or simply less experienced people who are happy to put the best face on anything in order to sell it leaving the more knowledgable professionals to break the bad news at a later date.

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Again, what Nathan said, the "abundance of fakes will always be with us". I guess I used to feel that copies had lesser inherent value. Intentional fakes are a different kettle of fish. Back in my conservator days, while discussing genuinely 3000 year old Egyptian fakes/copies, my advisor saw fit to straighten me out on the subject. She said the objects were never intended as any type of high art. They had a purely functional purpose in a very commercialized death culture. Everything, absolutely everything was a copy of a copy of a copy. I reflect on that today, when customers are deflated regarding their Mittie/Markie/Mire copie labels. It doesn't make them bad instruments. I remind folks that those shops made several million violins alone and they had to be model/copies of something.

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2 hours ago, nathan slobodkin said:

If you have any pertinent information about these "South of France" instruments could you please share it?

@martin swan can speak to these better than I, but basically there are counterfeiters who buy cheap Chinese and Romanian violins, remove the tops, and label and brand them inside and out with fake brands, usually of French makers. Then they sell them on eBay under various aliases from places in southern France. Some of the counterfeiting is quite good, but most of it is not.

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9 hours ago, GeorgeH said:

@martin swan can speak to these better than I, but basically there are counterfeiters who buy cheap Chinese and Romanian violins, remove the tops, and label and brand them inside and out with fake brands, usually of French makers. Then they sell them on eBay under various aliases from places in southern France. Some of the counterfeiting is quite good, but most of it is not.

Thanks

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