Boer War Page 12f
Boer War Fakes - ebay Follies
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As a public service, to prevent eager collectors from being duped by unscrupulous antique dealers, we offer our Fake Pages courtesy of our friends on ebay.

Harry Macdonough (1871-1931): "Annie Laurie" 1901

You are listening to an original recording from 1901 featuring one of Canada's very first recording artists, Harry Macdonough singing "Annie Laurie." This recording was probably played during lonely evenings on Gramophones across Canada as family and friends gathered and pondered the fate of their boys at war in distant South Africa.

(You can hear these earliest Canadian recordings on our program's soundtrack. Details on our Music Page)


One of the most faked memorabilia items are horse brass. You can take it for granted that virtually every horse brass you see at auctions, ebay, and antique stores - especially antique stores - is fake, a repro, cast recently from a mold made from a real worn piece of antique horse brass.

Horse brass were made originally as decorative items for farmers to put on their work horses. But with the impulsive buying urge of the public for affordable antiques, horse brass were cast by the millions to satisfy the urge. Ebay sells thousands of these fakes every year. Especially popular for faking are the ones with dates and kings and queens on them to complete the ruse, "Well, sure it's antique, look at the date? She's been dead for a hundred years you know." And another gullible shopper is snagged.

How can you tell the real ones from the fake?

First, any you see are probably fakes.

Compare any you find with two real ones, left, of Queen Victoria the Good, and Edward VII, the Peacemaker, that were found at a rural auction in Ontario. How do we know they're genuine?

1- they were sold as part of an antique estate that had many other similar aged items of glass, furniture, pictures & frames.
2- each brass was attached to old, worn, pitted, and cracked leather, studded with old, pitted, brass pins that were rusted and bent behind the leather. (Many fake horse brass are sold with fine leather loops or backings to give the feel that they're just off the horse! The leather is always nice, shiny and new, without age burn or cracking visible anywhere.)
3 - there were gouge marks, under the brass, on the leather, where the brass had bumped and ground away over many years of ploughing work by the horse. These marks are impossible to fake.
4 - the loop hanger on the brass was shiny and rounded where it was supported by the leather and both had worked themselves smooth over years of rubbing. (Fake brass are always sharp and rough here, just like they came out of the casting and where never hung or swung from any loop on any horse, anywhere. They would have cut through the leather strap very quickly

Fake Horse Brass
4 - the rear of the brass is "patchily discoloured" by time. (Fake brass has no age burn like this, so it is always uniform looking - regardless if it is dull or shiny - across the entire back side. Compare others that are nearby and see how they all look alike. Funny after a hundred years!)
- 5 - the crevices on the faces hold greyish/white - not black - residues of left over Brasso from diligent children who were told to shine up "King and Queenie's brass for the Fall Fair parade." (Fake brass never has greyish/white Brasso stains or residues, even though they're supposed to be 100 years old.)
- 6 - the price. Antiques like these are eagerly sought by collectors who pay $300 and more for them. (Fakes sell for five to 20 dollars depending on how keen the buyer is. Why would someone undersell a real and rare antique?)

"This is a superb and highly detailed Solid Marble Bust of Her Majesty The Late Queen Victoria in lovely condition. Measures approx 16" and to be sold with no reserve."
Fake "antique busts" of Queen Victoria - modern ones, mass produced in factories or sweat shops - are far easier to find on ebay than real ones - antique busts made during the Queen's life time.

Clues to Deception: The ad does not say it is a wonderful modern reproduction, nor a wonderful antique! It's got to be either one or the other. The intent of the seller - to make you believe, "Well, it must have been made in Victorian times, I mean who makes these things nowadays?" Well, lots of people interested in providing fake antiques to feed the growing appetite of many unwary buyers eager to own a piece of valuable historic memorabilia.

"In lovely condition!" is a phrase usually ended with "for a hundred years old," but it is not by this seller. Obviously, since the bust was only made recently, and has hardly been unpacked, one should hope so.

"No reserve!" What, no investment in a wonderfully huge, genuine antique bust of Queen Victoria to protect? If it attracted a bid of only $25 it would have to be sold. What a loss! But not if it only cost you $10 to buy from a bust reproduction house, like the totally above board "Home Products" company, which makes historic repros for home decoration. These items have no value as an antique - the seller doesn't have to protect an investment because he has none. They are only decorations. A $25 return for $10 is not a bad profit.

And on the internet, there are so many gullible buyers are out there that these busts sell repeatedly for $150 to $200 US.

Busts a plenty! There are always three or four of these exact same busts in either marble or bronze currently for sale on ebay (even more in "Completed Items." Why this glut of such a fabulously large and rare antique?????

Now do the fake bust test on this other ad for another bust (right) of the Queen.....

This is a very fine detailed large Marble style bust of QUEEN VICTORIA . It is on a marble base. The detail is stunning! (Please see Photo's). This is a magnificent bust of this famous British Queen. Its dimensions are 16 inches tall by 6 inches. The statue is in good condition, without chips or cracks. It would make a great addition to any home or collection.

"Marble style" is another alarm phrase that eager buyers ignore at their peril. Remember Victorian "style" is never Victorian "antique" but always Victorian "repro." In this case the marble is not really marble but some other kind of artificial concoction, perhaps coated plaster. The base is advertised as marble. But can you now be sure?

Marvellous Isn't It! Ever wonder how those highly fragile crown tops could survive 100 years of moving and knocks without breaking off? Well they mostly don't, and are often missing on real antique Victoria busts.

What, No Signature? What about the signature or maker's stamp of such a wonderfully huge bust?

The Real Thing: another ebay ad for a parian marble. See many other examples on our Memorabilia page 2.

"This is an original period bust made in 1897, it is not a modern "Victorian Style" copy. This exceptional Parian bust was produced by Robinson & Leadbeater to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Victoria."

Look for these Guarantees:

The above claim in an ebay ad by a reputable dealer like Peter Louis of the UK's Royal Memorabilia is your best protection.

A maker's stamp - found on the back - in this case by R&L, famous parian bust makers, is essential.

The rarity: You might go a year or more before seeing this bust style/design of headgear and dress.

The high reserve of $200 US. Peter Louis would not let his bust go for under the $200 necessary to protect his investment for this bust which at 7", is less than half the height of the huge "fake" busts above.

The reference supplied by Peter Louis: "The bust is photographed and described in "The Parian Phenomenon".

The damage! - "Though Parian is the best medium in which to capture the detail in these busts it is unfortunately a very fragile material, so few of these Queen Victoria busts have survived intact. Most examples which started out with the very delicate "small crown" are now crownless, and have remedial work done to them to disguise its loss. Fortunately this example has very minor defects with only one of the points on the crown damaged and part of the cameo with a chip on the side."

This bust sold for $311 US to a well-informed buyer from a forthright, reputable seller.

Now you are ready to start asking the right questions before jumping in with a bid!


Please see Warning on Fake Bugles on the Bugle pages.

"BUDGET-BLINDED, BARGAIN-BASEMENT BEDAZZLED, BUGLE BUYERS, BEST BETTER BEWARE OF BEING BEGUILED BY, BEATEN & BATTERED BOGUS BOER WAR BUGLES"


c Goldi Productions Ltd. 1996 & 2000