Articles / Pre-Columbian Stones

Pre-Columbian Stones - The Faker's Delight


Today there's a thriving business selling fake pre-columbian stone pieces. In auctions around the world, some galleries and especially on line, some of the most fanciful, elaborate and ridiculous fakes are being sold as authentic, guaranteed and absurdly bargain priced.


One E-Bay dealer has sold hundreds of small Olmec and Mayan fakes - to the know-it-all collectors who only buy at prices that are a fraction of what authentic pieces would sell for. When told that some of the pieces being offered were obvious fakes, the dealer responded that "there are a lot of different opinions on stone pieces."

Sure. And the buyer of a 2-1/2" tall jade Olmec figure for $600 will someday find out that his pig won't really fly.


This rash of fakes has helped feed a new industry - "Authentification". Several people are selling their services - examining stone pieces for traces of metal tool marks. They write papers saying none are visible. Apparently they have never heard of using acid on stone surfaces, sand blasting or simply hiring someone to grind two stones together until all tool traces are removed. I've heard that some of them do insert a weasel in their voluminous reports - something to the effect of "final determination of authenticity must be based on stylistic characteristics."

You bet they must. Unfortunately, this says the reports are rather useless.


We've seen figures in poses that would give the ancients hysterics and stone masks perfect for Japanese theaters. But collectors who know more than anyone else and buy only "bargains" will continue building their unique collections.



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