click images to enlarge
Above: REA 2006 Adverting Postcard (front and back)
We normally don’t get involved in policing eBay for fakes and scams because, well, there’s only so many hours in a day…But during the past week we received so many calls and emails regarding the eBay auctions for two 1912 Schmelzer’s Sporting Goods advertising pins (one of Joe Jackson and one of Hank Gowdy) that we thought it was appropriate for us to contact the seller.
Frankly, we could barely get any work done with collectors wanting to know… what we think about the Schmelzer’s on eBay, whether they are authentic, whether we would take them for auction, how many exist, and wanting to discuss everything from potential bidding strategies to value. Everyone was calling us about these because we are well known for being knowledgeable about rare pins, and also because REA sold the only large group of these rarities to ever surface (a total of a dozen examples back in 2006, an extremely exciting find that approximately doubled the entire known population of these rare pins and even included a couple of previously unknown players in the set). We got so many calls we checked the ebay listing to see if maybe our number was in there!
There was only one problem with the eBay auction examples, of course: They were fakes. And not very good fakes in our opinion, but you know how collectors are…they want to believe. These fakes were actually made from REA’s advertising literature. The images used were pictures of examples from the 2006 REA find, taken from advertising postcards we sent out in 2006. That’s why the size was wrong (we enlarged the images of the pins on the postcard, pictured above) and that’s why the small printing imperfections (such as the black dot at 8:00 and the camera flash “hot spots” at 3:30 around the perimeter of the Jackson photo) are identical. They are made from photos that we took, including imperfections. We called the eBay seller (his number was in the listing) and he said he had no idea. He asked us to send him the relevant information by email. Upon receipt, the eBay seller ended the auctions immediately, no problem.
Here are images of and links to the pins made from our advertising materials:
fake eBay Jackson pin
fake EBay Gowdy pin
Here’s a link to when we sold the collection of twelve 1910 Schmelzer’s pins that are advertised on the postcard for $81,200:
We wanted to be on top of this so that if collectors see other fake Schmelzer’s pins (fakes are like ants, usually where there’s one or two, there are more…) they are not fooled into thinking “With a name like Schmeltzer’s, they’ve got to be good!”
Additional note: REA actually has a real Schmeltzer’s Sporting Goods adverting pin of Joe Jackson, a recent discovery consigned from a Kansas City estate (from a family that in the 1910 era had a business in the same neighborhood as Schmelzer’s Sporting Goods). It is real; it is only the fifth Schmelzer advertising pin of Joe Jackson known to exist, and it will appear in the April 2010 auction.