You will not come
across counterfeit literature very often, but the brochures
that are faked are ones that are rare, expensive desirable
and simple. Reproducing brochures is expensive and to
make counterfeits you must sell a lot of them to make
it worthwhile. And, if you do sell a lot of them, the
word gets out and you will not longer be able to do
it. The more elaborate the piece is, the more time consuming
it becomes to reproduce it, the more expensive to make
and the more apt that flaws will show. An impressive,
deluxe Rolls-Royce catalog from the 1930's, with tipped-in
photographs, would be expensive to reproduce to the
original specifications - and then you would have to
give it a patina of age. Still, the paper wouldn't be
close enough to original, nor would the photographs.
Plus, the printing would have to be done on an ancient
printing machine. Compared to an original it would be
easy to spot by most Rolls-Royce literature collectors.
The Rolls-Royce Owner's Club makes quality reproductions
without any attempt to fool anyone and the club denotes
that they are reprints. Collectors who do not own originals
appreciate the service and no one is hurt.
On the other hand, about 10 years ago someone made some
first class counterfeits of early Maserati, Ferrari
and Aston Martin folders and sheets. The paper was close
to original and the printing was excellent. Although
good enough to fool many collectors, when compared to
originals there was a difference. The scam was quickly
exposed and the word got out to collectors through dealers,
magazine articles and clubs. Hopefully most of those
fakes were destroyed, but there will be some collectors
who pass them on to other collectors either through
ignorance, or in hopes of recouping their lost funds.
Last month I mentioned a Hershey vendor who was knowingly
Corvette brochures. This is worth closer examination.
The brochures fit the fundamental criteria of being
easy and economical to produce and desirable enough
that they can sell many of them. The counterfeiter hopes
you won't discover the truth until you get home and
then will have no way of finding him. Since they are
modern brochures, the paper can be reproduced reasonably
close and, at a swapmeets, you are not too likely to
spend time examining the printing quality.
What should you look for? Let's put two brochures side-by-side
and look for differences.
Paper - type of paper, thickness, gloss
vs. satin or dull finish, smooth vs. "greasy"
or "dry" feel, white vs. off-white, etc. The
older the brochure, the harder it will be to find modern
paper that will be identical to the original.
Photograph quality - Sharp, clear and
no flaws, or is it cloudy and the dark colors faded?
Smell - Sometimes freshly printed paper
has a chemical smell, or old paper has a particular
Printing - Lettering should be constant
in color, with no fading, as well as box outlines. Fakes
often show faded lines or lettering in far edges or
To make a good reprint the original must not show any
flaws and, if the original is rare and old, it probably
had some flaws that needed touching up. Usually such
flaws are accentuated when reproduced. I have seen fakes
that actually showed original wrinkles or tears. Look
for where the original staple holes were. It is hard
to get the new staples in the exact same spot - but
shiny staples do not mean that it is a reproduction.
Fifty year old staples are often dull and some are rusty,
but some can stay shiny.
Be aware, too, of originals that look like reproductions.
Some original literature was simply poor quality because
the company wanted to mass produce brochures for auto
shows or mailers. The first year Corvette brochures
were pretty cheap looking and are often counterfeited.
Although this makes the reprints look even worse than
the originals, often collectors question the originals!
If you compare 1964 and 1965 Corvette brochures you
will notice how crisp and sharp the originals are -
beautifully done with good detail. Then look at a 1963
Corvette brochure. At first glance the cover car is
dull black, the background is blurry and the driver
looks cut out and pasted in the car. Actually, the car
looks cut out and pasted into the picture. The car has
obviously been touched up by an artist. Strange, and
although I like Corvettes, I have never researched the
reason for this. It is original, and the photos throughout
the rest of the catalog are up to the standards of the
1964 and 1965 brochures, but you might question its'