Deception. It's not just for breakfast anymore.

HarryGMCPF

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
Joined
Nov 15, 2004
Posts
797
From
Northborough, MA
I know this topic comes up once in a while, but I though I would share a story with you all.

I had a customer call and ask if we clean and restore paintings. This is something we do on a very limited basis and will refer customers to an expert if it is more than a simple cleaning.

She brought the 2 paintings in for me to look at. She began telling me how old they were and what quality antiques they were. So I handled them carefully and turned the first one over. I had to hold my tongue. It was clearly a print mounted on to hardboard with some sort of acrylic texturizing on the surface.

I stall for a moment deciding whehter or not to burst this woman's bubble..... I then notice a printed copyright symbol in the lower left corner.... Oh, now what do I do.... I have to tell her. I'd rahter she be upset and trust that I know my stuff than to play along and have her think I don't know my A$$ from my elbow.

So here comes the gentle, compassionate tone of voice. "I don't know what I can do with these for you, because I can't tell what medium these are or whether or not they are reproductions or originals. Perhaps a restoration expert could better identify them"

A slight pause.... that seemed to last an eternity.....

"Oh, they are originals." she replies. "What makes you think they're not?"

"Well, I am hesitant to point this out to you, but there appears to be a printed copyright symbol in the corner here and the texture on the surface appears to come from whatever was applied to the top rahter than the paint." I say, feeling like you do the first time you tell someone you love them, not knowing what their response will be.

"Oh." She replies. "You know what that is? That is an estate mark."

I immedialtey think, well then this must have belonged to the Copyright family that lived in that big mansion in Newport, RI that hear so much about.

Now I decide to get out of this one. "Well, it could be." I say. "Still, I think what I would suggest is that you take these to someone who knows more about restoration than I do. I can give you the name of a couple in the area."

"Oh, I know them too. I don't know what I'm going to do. I will think about it." she says.

"O.K. You know if you decide to reframe them, that I will be happy to help you."

She left.

Bullet dodged.......
 

Bill Henry-

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It sounds like you handled it perfectly.

Sometimes you have to lose a sale in order to keep your ethics intact.
 

FramingFool

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New Cumberland, PA
Reminds me of the woman (somewhat nouveau riche, if you get my drift) who came in with the two " signed limited editions" that she got off the street in Rome, after her most "recent trip to the Continent [her words]" for a gizzillion Lira (which she talked down from 2 gazzilion Lira .... actual cost about $250 each) and she was SURE that her sophisticated intuition led her to The Next Great Undiscovered Artist, and, oh yes, by all means get rid of those awful paper mats and let's do 'em right ....

So, I proceeded to take off those Awful Paper Mats, and, underneath the mat was clearly stated .... "September" ... on the first .... "April" on the second.


They were, obviously, calendar pages that were "signed and numbered" by the "artist".

Well, she turned about the shade of the maroon counters we have here in the shop, split in a millisecond, and hasn't been back since.
 

Handy

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
Joined
Jun 17, 2005
Posts
787
From
Manitoba, Canada
we've had several of this type of situation over the years, and sometimes when you gently try to tell them, they just don't want to HEAR it.

Sometimes, if it doesn't seem to be making any difference in the way the framing is being done, we won't say anything but sometimes we will - just depends.

Sounds like you handled it very well....
 

Jay H

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From
KY
I've had it happen. I see no reason to argue either. I have no hessitation sharring what I think it is. But if they respond with "No it was painted by an elephant in India using a green poodle as a brush!"

I would just say "Wow what a talented elephant..." and move on from there.

Of coarse it wouldn't matter to me becuase I don't clean or remove smudges or buff out anything.

Carry on.
 

Puppyraiser

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But of course, one must be careful if the customer leaves it, has it framed, takes it to Joe Blow's Framery and finds out it is not an original. Whoa, in whose possession was it last? Why, yours, you switcherooney!

Customer brought in a print of "Reflections", you know, the Teter print of The Viet Nam Memorial. It is valuable, signed and numbered, you know. So our designer says that it isn't numbered and is only signed 'in the plate'. What!?! Was I bamboozled many years ago? Those rascals took my print and gave me back this worthless one (after they drymounted it). I no longer want to spend $400 to reframe it. Whatcha got cheaper? (We settled on $250). Darn.
 

Baer Charlton

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I would rather avoid Ellen's senario and just bluntly tell them.. this is "IMHO" and experience of seeing this type of thing.... but if you think otherwise and want a second opinion... by all means I strongly urge you to take it to the Antiques Roadshow, or an expert appraiser.

Then there was the couple that asked.. 'if we frame it nice and cover that copyright symbol.. whould it look enough like the real thing to fool our friends?' :eek:
faintthud.gif
 

William Parker

CGF, Certified Grumble Framer
Joined
May 24, 1999
Posts
163
From
Nashville, TN USA
I have to agree with Baer on this one; you should, as nicely as possible, let the customer know your thoughts on the artwork. We had the same situation two weeks ago. A customer had purchased an "original" portrait from a dealer. She was told that it was an original work on board, and that the Victorians liked a heavy clear coat on their paintings. It was a mounted poster, which I think had been "aged" (a little time in tea can add years to how something looks). The dot matrix was visible through a 10X loop which we keep on the design table. With the current state of digital printing, the loop will not always tell you how the piece was created.

The simple fact is that there are not enough antiques to meet the current market demand. In response, the market is creating new "antiques". The requirements to enter the antiques business, as a dealer, are the same as becoming a picture framer: none. So, there are many dealers who are under qualified, and simply repeat the stories they are told by the people from whom they purchase their inventory, without understanding what they are selling. The specific knowledge you need to be an expert in any area is so great that few dealers are qualified to know an entire market (art, furniture, china, etc.).

Baer's suggestion of finding an appraiser is great. One caution, there are no requirements for calling yourself a personal property appraiser. Look for appraisers who are certified and specialize in the appropriate area of personal property appraisal. The two primary appraisal organizations are the American Association of Appraisers (ASA), and the International Association of Appraisers (ISA). Both have certification programs, and referal services through their web sites. Any appraisal should meet the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) standards which have just been revised. Authentication is part of the appraisal process.

William Parker MCPF GCF
Ambiance By Parker
Nashville, Tn
 

Val

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Joined
Nov 21, 2005
Posts
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Carson City, Nevada
I have one in the shop now. The one whose frame <font size=1>is in my freezer killing powder post beetles.</font size=1> Customer was told by a man claiming to be Ansel Adam's former framer (who never heard of Paul Frederick, BTW) that it was a very valuable original sketch. Dot matrix visible, I showed him when he first brought it in. But because of bogus info by bogus Famous Framer who talked him into buying this "valuable original (print)" from him, he's in denial, and I'm keeping my mouth shut. I tried.
 

Jay H

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KY
The worst violators I see of this is the crap that comes from Paris. They print watercolors on textured (not even watercolor) paper. They leave the edges rough and smudges in the margins. For whatever reason, people really accept these as originals.

Now if you really fear being on the wrong side of Ellen's scenario, and you don't want to be hypocritical, you have one choice. That is to turn the work away unless the customer agrees with you. I don't "swap" art and don't fear repercussions from something I didn't do. If we went down that road where would it end?

"What a talented little monkey....or did you say that was an elephant?"
 

LesMacLean

Grumbler in Training
Joined
Aug 19, 2006
Posts
1
From
Kirkland Lake, Ontario, Canada
Everyone wants to find a deal, and believe what they have is authentic, and worth more. In this instance, not informing the client, I believe, would damage your credibility somewhere down the line. Someone is going to tell them it's not "original". The question then becomes "Why didn't you recognize it as fake?" It could reflect upon your own reputation and expertise.

Some sellers aren't even shy about these things. Just last night I saw a listing on E-Bay for an "antique plastic frame" starting at $17.00. Am I missing an opportunity by not moving into the antique plastic market now?
 

Framar

WOW Framer
Joined
Jul 24, 2001
Posts
26,382
From
Buffalo, New York, USA/Fort Erie, Ontario, Canada
Welcome to the Grumble, Les - can you post a link to that "antique plastic frame?" I'd love to see what they're talking about (and I happen to collect old plastic frames from the 30's through the 50's!

I have had folks come into my shop with what they were sure were valuable originals - of both the Mona Lisa and the Last Supper!!! I told them that the painting were indeed VERY valuable, but only in their original state, and that these, alas, were reproductions.

The guy with the Last Supper didn't believe me so I sent him down the street to an art dealer in need of a good laugh.

What with the new printing techniques nowadays it certainly will be more difficult to suss out these fakes. In the past it has always been easy to whip out the magnifying glass to show folks those telltale dots...

Luckily the huge majority of my clientelle buys things because they likes them, rather than for investment purposes.

My latest worry is the guy with the signed GooGoo Doll poster who thinks it will put his newborn son through college some day!

NOT!
 

Jay H

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Posts
9,908
From
KY
What does the value, or lack of, have at all to do with the framing? If the customer perceives it as having a significant value than that’s a great situation to sell better framing.

I can't imagine laughing them out the door.
 

Puppyraiser

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Posts
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Maryland
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I think, Jay, that this goes to that 'meeting of the minds' thing. If you KNOW it's a print, and the customer KNOWS it's original, and in two years they discover that it's a print, will they go, "Dang, Jay was right!" or will they go "That swindler Jay swapped my original Mona Lisa for a print when I left it to be framed!" That's the real warning I am posting. Unless both you and your customer recognize that it is the same thing, it could be Doodoo City.
 

Rebecca

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Joined
Feb 28, 2002
Posts
3,339
From
Vancouver, B.C., Canada
One way around Ellen's worst case scenario would be to note any unique marks, stamps, inscriptions etc. along with size, etc., that could be matched to the piece in question. Or a quick digital photo so that like could be matched to like.

It's always good to have a certified appraiser or two for referal, for just these occasions. It saves one from having to make definitive statements about things that are outside of one's specific area of expertise. I've been right, I've been wrong, but ultimately that's not what I was trained for. They have been.

Rebecca
 

Framar

WOW Framer
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Posts
26,382
From
Buffalo, New York, USA/Fort Erie, Ontario, Canada
The folks I mentioned with the "Mona Lisa" and the "Last Supper" did not come into my shop to buy framing - they came in to SELL the artworks to ME!!! They saw stuff on the walls and figured I was a gallery (I'm not) and that I buy artwork (I don't) and they had visions of a big wad of cash in their paws as they left.

If any of my customers ever tried to sue me for "switching artwork" that would be the day I would lock my door and leave the business forever - my trust in humanity totally shattered.

But my shop is small, my customers are few - and they all know me (even if I don't remember their faces!).

If my "spidey sense" ever started tingling with an unknown customer I'd probably whip out the digital camera - dang! Now y'all got me all paranoid!!!
 

Jay H

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Posts
9,908
From
KY
Originally posted by EllenAtHowards:
...in two years they discover that it's a print, will they go, "Dang, Jay was right!" or will they go "That swindler Jay swapped my original Mona Lisa for a print when I left it to be framed!"
Because I'm not in the business of swapping art, I don't really care what they think.

I know most of these discussions are purely hypothetical whatif’s about events that happen so sporadically that it's barely worth mentioning. Even still, are we this scared to frame?

So Ellen, if you don’t have this ‘meeting of the minds’, do you send the work out of the shop? It sounds like this is a very serious concern.
 

BILL WARD

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Joined
Mar 25, 2004
Posts
2,451
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Tampa, FL
I had one about 2 years ago---papyrus "it's the original, we got it at the Cairo museum!!!" You CANT argue with that one! All logic/commen sense is out the door!!!
Also had a local couple come in last SAT...prints in hand--just returned from a cruise, somewhere.....out of all the prints want to frame the TK first...at which point I tell them my tale of framing a TK then actually looking at the bonifides paper about how many ""limited editions"" copies--world wide-200k+ or 300k+(dont remember which)..She then looks me in the eye, says they paid @ $250 for it & "is it worth anything?" (kinda like my story went in one ear and rapidly out the other? Oh, the can on worms she opened with that!!! So I told her that they must like it to buy it, that it was like that jug of Tbird wine...if you LIKE it, it's GREAT stuff!!!! so , of course it was worth something...just probably not ever going to be worth ABUNCH because of all the copies....she was kinda dissapointed that she wasnt going to immediately earn a BIG appreciation in value(what kind of line do the cruise people feed those guys to get them to buy that stuff??????)...I also told her she got it at a good price when compare to what she would pay at a franchise store(& that she should go visit one to make her feel better)
 

Baer Charlton

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Originally posted by Jay H:
</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />Originally posted by EllenAtHowards:
...in two years they discover that it's a print, will they go, "Dang, Jay was right!" or will they go "That swindler Jay swapped my original Mona Lisa for a print when I left it to be framed!"
Because I'm not in the business of swapping art, I don't really care what they think. </font>[/QUOTE]Jay, it's not about what business "you think you're in" it's what business the lawyers can convince a jury on non-framers "what you did".

A few years ago a good customer (one who has framed 2-3 things with us before.) came in with a "Dali" that she had gotten such a great deal on when she had gone on that cruise the year before...

But she had forgotten what the framing was going to look like.. and this framing (Decore Rococo, LJ velvet 3/4" liner, and silk matboard cut with a dull blade that frayed the linen and hooked every cut) wasn't going to match her French Country meets PacNorWest Craftsman. [Don't ask how I know that...
faintthud.gif
]

As always in a case like this.. right there on the design table "lets pop the print out and of the distracting framing, so we can see what we've got".

Two minutes later we are looking at a note writen in pen on the wasteage of the print:

"Steve, get this Cruiseline crap fit and out of here; we have new re-pops coming next week."

It took us about 20 minutes to explain what she had, and what a "re-pop" was....

I think we did up a nice demure frame job for her. And she hasn't gone on any cruises to buy art again.
 

wpfay

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I had a piece brought in by a certified appraiser because she felt there was something not quite right about the piece. She had been doing an extensive appraisal of the objects in the Governor's mansion in Tallahassee, and this one little painting just threw her for a loop.
It was a pretty little interior scene that was purported to be Dutch. I was checking it out for all the obvious evidence of fake, but really couldn't nail it down.
I was about to hand the piece back to the appraiser when I noticed some marks on the side of the stretcher...printers registration marks.

I felt a little foolish for not having noticed them to begin with, but we were focusing so much on finding a problem with the image that we forgot to look at the border.
The piece had been mounted to canvas and the brush strokes meticulously painted in with a clear medium. It had fooled a number of people for quite some time.
 

Val

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Carson City, Nevada
I like the ones that come in with:

"See?? It is an original Picasso! It says so right here, 'original print'! And I only paid $5 for it, When's the Antique Roadshow coming around? Man, those thrift store people don't know anything! "

I just smile and say "Ah, interesting" and briefly explain about "original prints" and refer them to the appraiser and then help them pick their frame. I've said my piece, the rest is up to them. Description on work order says "Picasso print, condition - glued to cardboard."
 

Kit

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Posts
2,513
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Rochester, MN
Wally, those borfers will trip you up every time!

So I guess we've all heard the story about the customer's art that is going to be worth a lot of money. If I can't prove it's a fake - by flipping it over and exposing the month of September or showing them the dots with a magnifying glass - I tell them I'm not an expert and suggest they consult one.

The latest was a Les Kouba deer-jumping-over-a-log print in a 50's shell back frame. The poor thing had faded to shades of chartreuse. But the customer didn't want it reframed; he wanted to sell it to me. No thank you. I suggested he might try listing it on ebay. He left and is probably still amazed that I would pass up the great opportunity he was offering.

Kit
 

Baer Charlton

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We had a couple come in with a nice Bennett wood block... they were all pulled by Bennett but the rub comes with the fact that they sold in the 60s for about $5-10.
So everyone mounted them with Yes! paste on Masonite....

This nice young couple really liked the print and had bought it at a yard sale for $15....

We told them the story about William Bennett, and what had happened to all those wonderful prints...

They still wanted to frame it nice [the old frame was falling apart..].

So we opened it up right there. It had been framed by one of the oldest and respected frameshops in Portland... and who ever had ordered it framed, you just wanted to track em down and kiss em.

There, japanese "T" hinged to the rag back was a perfectly preserved print worth well over $2,000.

Just thought you all need a nice story to go with the usuals.
 

CharlesL

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Rest In Peace



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Originally posted by BILL WARD:
I had one about 2 years ago---papyrus "it's the original, we got it at the Cairo museum!!!" You CANT argue with that one!
Originally posted by Val:
I like the ones that come in with:
"See?? It is an original Picasso! It says so right here, 'original print'! And I only paid $5 for it, When's the Antique Roadshow coming around? Man, those thrift store people don't know anything! "
Reminds me of the old SNL routine by Father Guido Sarducci: "And while-a on the trip, I bought an autographed picture of-a Jesus. An' it'sa real thing, too. I know this because it looks-a just like him."
 
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