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The two most stated reasons people purchase Antique and Vintage Reproductions are "Price" and "Availability". The price is cheaper than the authentic item and/or they can't find what they are looking for. I've found it is often a combination of the two. This being the case, many people really don't know what to look for when purchasing Antique and Vintage Reproductions. Being an antique collector helps but that doesn't always cover all the bases.
I guess I should first of all differentiate between a legitimate Reproduction and a one that is designed to be used for fraudulent purposes. Very simply put, a reproduction that is going to be used for fraudulent purposes is going to be too accurate. Too detailed and too perfect. There has always been a bit of a stigma against those that make reproductions because of potential use for illegal purposes. Obviously a reputable company that makes reproductions will first of all clearly indicate that any particular product is a Reproduction. That company however will also take steps to make sure that their creation can in no way be used for illegal purposes.
These steps generally come in one of two categories. First is to build into the item specific variations from an authentic item that would be evident to an expert. The second is to insert into the product some type of specific marking or identification marks that, usually only the producer, would know about. Neither of these steps are difficult to accomplish in themselves. A good Reproduction Artist however will be able to do this without the average, and I emphasize the word "average", consumer even knowing it or finding the variation. So that brings up the question of "What does the average consumer look for when buying reproductions?".
1) Smart consumers will buy from well established reproduction companies that have a reputation for honesty. Not only will you obtain a better product, you will probably pay less for it. Good companies will not try to gouge the customer. They want the repeat business. Scammers couldn't care less if a customer ever comes back.
2) Another step a consumer can take is to do their homework. Find several pictures of what you are looking for and compare them to the Reproduction. The reproduction many be a little bigger or smaller, may have a slightly different shade in the stain, or even have differences in the actual aspects of construction. Remember, a Reproduction is different than a Duplicate. Reproductions are designed to impart the same look, feel and visual affect as the authentic item does. Not be its duplicate. In the same area of homework and if possible, find an original. Physically examine it. How does it feel? What are the characteristics that catch your eye? How does it smell? Use your sight, smell and feel to establish in your own mine some benchmark points. Don't forget that a good reproduction will be difficult to determine except through very close examination. Don't be disturbed however if you can't find any differences. Good Reproduction Artists hide the differences very well. That's another reason to deal with a reputable company or artist.
3) Watch the pricing. Except for situation where very accurate reproduction are produced for very specific purposes, most reproductions will be priced much more reasonably than an authentic item. That doesn’t mean the reproduction will be dirt cheap. An artist is worthy of his work and will charge accordingly. There are rare instances where a reproduction may actually cost more than an original because of rarity of materials or large amounts of labor required to produce the item. These circumstances are generally very rare.
4) Talk to the person or company producing the reproduction. How do you feel about them? Let your gut feelings guide you. If you don’t feel comfortable with them, walk away. There are plenty of others.
5) In most instances the majority of Reproduction Companies don’t negotiate on their pricing unless it is a custom reproduction job. Like any other company, they have costs that must be covered and need to charge accordingly for their product. Remember also that you are buying a piece of art not a can of green beans.
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