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Author Topic: Is there any difference between a "repro" and a "fake"?  (Read 3314 times)

Offline Tom E. Gunn

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Is there any difference between a "repro" and a "fake"?
« on: June 20, 2016, 05:31:22 AM »
We all know that there's very little 20th century militaria which isn't currently available as a "reproduction", whether it's a cloth patch or a belt buckle....and everything else in between. The range of stuff being churned out these days is nothing short of stupendous! For example, just yesterday I was looking at a range of WW1 "Doughboy" uniform items which can be bought right off-the-peg. Likewise, webgear, footwear and helmets etc. Times have never been better for re-enacters, whatever their chosen period. Of course, said items are sold up front as "reproductions" and whilst they might look good they often don't stand up to close scrutiny in terms of their overall quality when compared with period originals. In my experience, repro web-gear usually falls into that category, being made of a lighter weight canvas whose colour(s) are frequently slightly "off"....and yet, they often feature authentic dated manufacturers' stamps...eg BOYT 1944...which could potentially fool inexperienced collectors.

Nazi items have been fair game for many years and fake badges and insignia abound. I say "fake" rather than "repro" because whilst repros are now readily available, there was a time when they were faked, complete with manufacturers' marks, and sold for profit as they commanded top dollar. A TR collector friend of mine stated that most TR collections will contain at least one "fake" item, whether the collector realises it or not!

We collectors of GI militaria used to tease our TR collector friends because of the fakery which was rife in their hobby back in the day. Little did we realise that if we fast-forwarded, GI collecting would also fall foul of this trend! Obviously, the "fakers" are motivated solely by financial gain. For example, marked M1 helmets have become a minefield because of the activities of "artifakers". Likewise, WW2 airborne insignia, especially patches. So...we have "faked" patches, often bullion-embroidered, and conveniently described as "original theatre-made"...but we also have "reproduction" patches in a similar vein! That's when the water becomes muddied...repro / fake...or do you not differentiate between the two?!
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Offline alibi

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Re: Is there any difference between a "repro" and a "fake"?
« Reply #1 on: June 20, 2016, 06:57:42 AM »
There is what I call collectoreze which is terms used exclusively by militaria collectors as opposed to the meaning of the terms as used by the rest of the world. 

Fake - a term that I believe common to the art collectors, has become some sort of boogeyman term to militaria collectors.  Reminds me of the commie scares of the 1950s when people believed that there were sympathizers everywhere.  The art world used the term for a forgery that it was intended to deceive into believing was a genuine work usually for economic gain.  In the militaria world a fake seems to mean anything that isn't genuine regardless of why it was manufactured.

Reproduction - The dictionaries are rather generous with this term and provide a rather broad definition.  Militaria collectors use the term in it's broadest definition to mean anything that is similar to an originally manufactured item but not intended as a forgery or fake for monetary enhancement.  Much of the fake TR material was intended to provide less common material items at a profit and wasn't merely reproduced for use in reinacting, or to fill a place in a collection.  My use of the term in my book is restricted to an item that was put back into production by a company that originally produced the item.  For example Colt Firearms Manufacturing Company originally manufactured the M1851 Navy revolver in the 1850-60s, then went back into production or "reproduced" the same revolver in the 1970s, with no intention of passing off the second generation guns as antiques.  The same model revolver manufactured by anyone else is a replica.

Replica - Term that in the militaria collector world is interchangeable with reproduction, and the dictionaries usually use "replica" to define "reproduction" and visa-versa.  My definition of the term is anything that is similar to an original item and not intended to deceive by forgery for financial purposes.  The uniforms and equipment manufactured for film production, or reinacting are replicas not intended to be passed off as genuine, but are sometimes confused with genuine material culture and then hysteria sets in and the anguished cry of "fake" is applied.

The misuse of terms doesn't stop with these examples.  Collectors obviously like their alternative familiar terms for items other than nomenclature.  For example the U.S. Army produced at various times a magazine POCKET for pistol magazines that collectors insist on calling a POUCH.  Helmet is a term anathema to collectors that prefer silly substitute terms terms like "pot" and "lid".  My own view is that I was always more than happy to get that damn thing off my head and it was described in terms that I suppose would have helmet collectors gasp with anguish.  And I didn't wear "dog tags" I was issued identity tags and the collectors that prefer dog tag can go sit in the dog house wearing their dog tags as far as I am concerned.  Maybe bark at the moon while they're at it.  What I'm trying to imply is that militaria collectors live in their own little world and obviously prefer collectoreze over nomenclature.  It seems odd to me that a group of people that can go hysterical over a "faked" item have so little regard for nomenclature.

I have started a list of overused words that anyone would care to contribute I'd appreciate adding to my list.  For example politicians are fond of the word "fight" to mean they are actually going to do something if elected.  Attorney's advertise they "fight" for their clients when in actuality they "fight" for their percentage of the judgement, but apparently to prospective clients that the attorney is ready to "fight" on their behalf is appealing.  Another is the way overused term "hold accountable" used by politicians and incompetent managers that implies that whoever needs to be held accountable is some sort of out of control renegade that ignores the usual laws, codes, regulations, and social mores of society.  BTW "fake" is on my list of overused words.

Offline Tom E. Gunn

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Re: Is there any difference between a "repro" and a "fake"?
« Reply #2 on: June 20, 2016, 07:23:24 AM »
Wow...I wasn't expecting a thesaurus in response!  :o
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Offline Air Ministry

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Re: Is there any difference between a "repro" and a "fake"?
« Reply #3 on: June 20, 2016, 09:25:53 AM »
When an item is produced to such a degree where even internally it is the same as an original, in my opinion this is an unnecessary degree of authenticity and can only lead to the item possibly being passed off as genuine at a later date.
Take for example 32 pattern Mae West's, when these were originally reproduced they had black internal rubberisation and this was changed later on to the correct green rubberisation, why does a reproduction item need to have any rubberisation at all, it is not going to be used in the sea, only for people to dress up and run around at air shows.
If they had black or no rubberisation at all, perhaps not so many people would get caught out buying repro's that someone is trying to pass off as an original, personally I think that all these type of items should have a large repro stamp in them.
If I had a pound for everyone that had been caught out by a repro 32 pattern Mae West or a D mask, I would be a rich man.
A dealer once said, ninety percent of people who think they have a genuine 32 pattern Mae West in their collection haven't, so this gives you an idea of the scale of the problem
Personally I don't agree with repro items at all, I imagine that this would make re-enactors very unhappy but then I don't agree with re-enacters either, so it's no problem for me.

I have raised this same subject on another forum in the past and it made for a lively discussion.
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Offline F-102

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Re: Is there any difference between a "repro" and a "fake"?
« Reply #4 on: June 20, 2016, 09:30:16 AM »
From my sole point of view, a fake is something made to seem real or authentic; where a reproduction is an authentic copy made for those who want a representation or such until the real item makes itself available.
I personally collect neither. Much like the subdued patches the USAF uses. They are not authentic as to color, but made for combat operations. So I steer clear of them.
Collecting USAF Air Defense unit patches

Offline Tom E. Gunn

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Re: Is there any difference between a "repro" and a "fake"?
« Reply #5 on: June 20, 2016, 09:48:24 AM »
I once challenged a Belgian dealer at a UK militaria show as to why all of the reproduction US webbing he was selling bore authentic copies of the wartime makers' marks, including 40's dates. His response was "Because that's what the re-enacters demand".  So...for example, a re-enacter carries a reproduction musette bag, which he knows is a reproduction, but which has a 1940s date under the flap which no-one ever sees (apart from him) because he can "pretend" it's the real McCoy?! I don't get it! If it's a repro, it should be stamped BOYT 2016...or whatever, IMHO.

Re the web-gear in question, it was never going to fool anyone because a) the weight of cotton duck used in such repros is of a lesser quality than that used in WW2...and b) the colours were all wrong anyway! So...why bother adding a wartime date?!  ( Just sayin')
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Offline Rakkasan187

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Re: Is there any difference between a "repro" and a "fake"?
« Reply #6 on: June 20, 2016, 11:57:01 AM »
Excellent synopsis gentlemen.. Well described..

One other name that fits the categories mentioned as well are the so called "FANTASY BADGES" which could be classified under the "FAKES".

Now being a Third Reich collector some  may be aware of the campaign shields that were designed and manufactured, most common being the Krim, Narvik, Kuban, Demjansk, to name a few, but there were also designs made up and it is thought that a few of the badges were issued as there is proof in Soldbuchs and some even manufactured but not in large numbers. These can also be categorized as official shields (never mass produced)

Warsaw Shield
Lappland Shield

The next category are the unofficial shields where designs were made and some locally produced but they were never made official:

Lorient Shield
Dunkirk Shield
Balkan Shield (It is reported that 250 were actually issued, not sure about the validity of this)

The next category is the Prototype: a couple of designs but an actual design was never approved

Stalingrad Shield

Finally the Fantasy Badge which has been debunked and classified as a contemporary fabrication:

Stalingrad "Fantasy Shield"

The reproductions of the well known shields exist, as well as the fake/fantasy/prototype badges..

At one time collecting TR was the minefield of fakes and reproductions but sadly now it has spread to all other aspects of collecting, patches, wings, British cap badges,  you name it..

Research, reading and knowledge are key in this arena, knowing and trusting good dealers and ensuring they offer money back policies will also make collecting a lot easier..

Smitty

P.S..

I also forgot to mention that there was also a design for an "ARNHEM" shield for the Operation Market Garden battles...
 

« Last Edit: June 21, 2016, 06:02:40 AM by Rakkasan187 »
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Offline Kohima

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Re: Is there any difference between a "repro" and a "fake"?
« Reply #7 on: June 20, 2016, 10:25:48 PM »
When you learn the wonderful item you purchased is a repro. AFTER you have paid good money, it's a fake.


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Offline Tom E. Gunn

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Re: Is there any difference between a "repro" and a "fake"?
« Reply #8 on: June 20, 2016, 11:09:25 PM »
We patch collectors know that Pakistan has long been the source of elaborate, hand-embroidered fake/repro US patches...usually the higher end and "rarer" bullion stuff. So...who's at fault here? Is it the Pakistani manufacturer who makes and just sells these to the west as honest collectables....or is it the western dealer(s) who might buy them and then attempt to pass them on as "originals". On a tertiary level, there's the collecting community itself which sells, swaps, trades patches with each other. I've seen patches listed for sale on other forums called out as "fakes" on numerous occasions! Usually honest mistakes...but it ain't necessarily so!
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Offline rr01

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Re: Is there any difference between a "repro" and a "fake"?
« Reply #9 on: June 30, 2016, 10:26:55 PM »
I bought my first pair of Corcorans less than thirty years after the first ones came out. I still buy them but now in the new "vintage" brown and the pricing for new ones has remained comparable. The same for a Navy G~3 jacket except for some variations in the contract the lineage remains. Nylon flight jackets have remained in constant production as have KaBars. While these are all period originals if I tried to pass them off as vintage I'd be in trouble.
The guy who takes an original P~51 dataplate and builds a complete airplane around it people consider it to be an original. I consider it a thing of beauty and knowing I'll never afford one I don't concern myself too much with what's fake. The purist might even criticize me for updating the avionics and weapons system as well as mounting a Griffen engine and putting it into a current military paint scheme. Imagine a Mustang updated to current CAS standards including a HUD and NVG compatible covkpit lighting?
Which brings me to Bob DeFord's homebuilt 2004 Spitfire. It certainly flies real and looks very close to the real deal.
When I put on a period uniform I know what isn;t real and I think the people I talk to know the uniform isn't real but they see it as real while I'm giving that uniform life. As long as I don't pass it off as real. In the meantime I'm just enjoying a hobby though not as expensive as DeFords Spitfire.
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Offline Tom E. Gunn

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Re: Is there any difference between a "repro" and a "fake"?
« Reply #10 on: July 01, 2016, 12:48:39 AM »
Did I mention re-strikes?  One of the biggest bugbears to collectors of WW2 USAAF wings are the (in)famous N.S. Meyer re-strikes. These themselves date back to the 80s so are becoming collectables in their own right! I have a number of them myself which I acquired back in the early 90s. Essentially, they are modern re-strikes  made using the original WW2 Meyer dies, so visually they are no different from originals...apart from their "newness". All are brooch-pin types and are marked with the Meyer logo and STERLING. Experienced collectors will be able to identify them by virtue of their pin fittings and the nature / position of the maker's mark etc. However...many less experienced collectors will no doubt have bought examples believing them to be originals! For that reason, many collectors give Meyer wings a wide berth! They were never intended as out-and-out "fakes"...rather, they were simply top quality collection fillers as some of them are the harder to find "letter" wings such as Technical Observer etc. So, I suppose caveat emptor is the order of the day when buying alleged WW2 Meyer wings?
« Last Edit: July 01, 2016, 12:50:02 AM by Tom E. Gunn »
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Offline Masonk

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Re: Is there any difference between a "repro" and a "fake"?
« Reply #11 on: July 01, 2016, 10:27:44 AM »
"Repro" to me, would be an item made in the image of a period piece (even using the same manufacturing techniques, including material), that was not period made, however is not being sold or passed off as period made.

"Fake" would be the opposite; a non-period made piece, made to look period, that is being passed off as period made, either unknowingly or with the intent to deceive. Usually price would reflect this.

I personally don't like to use either word when describing militaria, preferring to use either authentic or inauthentic. Sometimes also using period correct or not period correct.

What I really despise, however, is the use of the term "Real". "Is this patch/helmet/pair of GI underware real?" "Well of course it is, you're holding it in your hand, aren't you?"  :o
« Last Edit: July 01, 2016, 10:29:36 AM by Masonk »
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Offline Tom E. Gunn

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Re: Is there any difference between a "repro" and a "fake"?
« Reply #12 on: July 01, 2016, 11:40:58 AM »
"Repro" to me, would be an item made in the image of a period piece (even using the same manufacturing techniques, including material), that was not period made, however is not being sold or passed off as period made.

"Fake" would be the opposite; a non-period made piece, made to look period, that is being passed off as period made, either unknowingly or with the intent to deceive. Usually price would reflect this.

I personally don't like to use either word when describing militaria, preferring to use either authentic or inauthentic. Sometimes also using period correct or not period correct.

What I really despise, however, is the use of the term "Real". "Is this patch/helmet/pair of GI underware real?" "Well of course it is, you're holding it in your hand, aren't you?"  :o
[/color]

Ain't that the truth?!
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Offline Tom E. Gunn

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Re: Is there any difference between a "repro" and a "fake"?
« Reply #13 on: July 05, 2016, 06:16:17 AM »
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Offline Tug1970

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Re: Is there any difference between a "repro" and a "fake"?
« Reply #14 on: July 05, 2016, 06:26:32 AM »
What I really despise, however, is the use of the term "Real". "Is this patch/helmet/pair of GI underware real?" "Well of course it is, you're holding it in your hand, aren't you?"  :o
Hahahaha  ;D
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