Real or Fake
Studies in Authentication
Published by: The University Press of Kentucky
Imprint: The University Press of Kentucky
Sales Date: 07/17/2009
Will the rare autographed baseball your great-uncle gave you put your children through college? Is your grandmother's chest of drawers really a seventeenth-century antique, or merely a reproduction? A leader in forgery detection and forensic investigation, Joe Nickell reveals his secrets to detecting artifacts items in Real or Fake: Studies in Authentication.
Detailing how the pros determine whether an Abraham Lincoln signature is forged or if a photograph of Emily Dickinson is genuine, Nickell provides the essential tools necessary to identify counterfeits. In this general introduction to the principles of authentication, Nickell provides readers with step-by-step explanations of the science used to detect falsified documents, photographs, and other objects. Illustrating methods used on hit shows such as Antiques Roadshow and History Detectives, Nickell recommends that aspiring investigators employ a comprehensive approach to identifying imitations. One should consider the object's provenance (the origin or derivation of an artifact), content (clues in the scene or item depicted), and material composition (what artifacts are made of), as well as the results of scientific analyses, including radiographic, spectroscopic, microscopic, and microchemical tests.
Including fascinating cases drawn from Nickell's illustrious career, Real or Fake combines historical and scientific investigations to reveal reproductions and genuine objects. Nickell explains the warning signs of forgery, such as patching and unnatural pen lifts; chronicles the evolution of writing instruments, inks, and papers; shows readers how to date photographs, papers, and other materials; and traces the development of photographic processes since the mid-nineteenth century. Lavishly illustrated with examples of replicas and authentic objects inspected by Nickell, Real or Fake includes case studies of alleged artifacts including Jack the Ripper's diary, a draft of the Gettysburg Address, notes by Charles Dickens, Jefferson Davis's musket, and debris from the Titanic.
An expert on antique ink and paper, and the forensic analysis of historic documents.~New Yorker
Joe Nickell is the embodiment of the Mythbusters, Sherlock Holmes, and Richard Feynman: one part lab tinkerer, one part field sleuth, and one part theoretical genius.~Michael Shermer, publisher of Skeptic Magazine, columnist for Scientific American
This new book, Real or Fake, will be of special interest to family historians." —Kentucky Ancestors
"Nickell advocates a multifaceted approach that looks at provenance, content, material composition, and scientific analysis." —Maine Antique Digest
"It's all interesting reading. More importantly, it's informational, giving an overview of what it takes to ferret out the truth." —Antique Week
"If you are interested in antiques then this book is a nice addition to your library." —The Lone Star
"A well-written and useful book...The most rewarding parts of this book...are the author's recollections of his own youth." —Technology and Culture
"With more than 60 photographs, countless stories, examples and tips from the experts, you can easily pick up and enjoy this riveting book from any chapter." —Antique Trader
"Enthusiasts will find it insightful and helpful, serious investigators will appreciate its heuristic value, stimulating them to make further inquiries." —New York-Pennsylvania Collector
"Reading the book will help you appreciate the procedures followed by the experts and it will prompt your more careful examination of those documents, photographs, or artifacts you observe in shops, at shows or in a museum." —Collector
"Real or Fake is the real thing when it comes to understanding the world of authenticating artifacts." —Kentucky Monthly
"Nickell brings a unique set of talents to autograph sleuthing: A Ph.D. in English and a serious art and chemistry background, work experience as a private investigator and more "stints" in more jobs than any person has a right to claim, combined with first-rate analytical skills, make him a formidable autograph sleuth." — Manuscripts