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(GINny and FORrest Poston's Oddities and Antiques)

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A Review of Tiffanyfakes.com

I contacted the TiffanyFakes site to discuss potential problems, but the response was negative in both word and attitude. Here is the exchange:

My Initial E-Mail:

Your site is a great idea, and it takes some nerve, as well as time, to take such action. However, I think you need to work on some refinements to avoid potential problems.

1. You seem to refer to anything as "fake" if it isn't Tiffany, but that's a bit broad. While most of the items you picture were made with the intent to deceive (fake), I see several items that are probably good, old art glass, just not Tiffany. The difference between fake and a misattribution is crucial, as is the possibility of fake signatures on good pieces. How would you categorize an authentic Loetz that has a fake LCT mark? I suggest a site division between the fakes and the "might be good but isn't Tiffany". Yeah, more work, but there's that old story about anything worth doing........

2. On your list of sellers you note that some of these are simply mistakes by the seller, and some are questionable. Even with that note (which too many people won't read), it hardly seems fair to lump all the sellers together. I would suggest at least two categories, one for those noted to sell fakes and repros on a frequent basis and with listings written to deceive, and one for the oops category (and probably a third for the questionable). You might also have a category showing the people honest enough to remove a listing when they realize the truth (although this category should probably only be with the permission of the lister).

3. I can understand if you want to keep your name quiet given the potential problems with the fraudulent dealers, but it still seems like there should be something on there about why your opinion is worthwhile, especially regarding the questionable items.
4. While I can't confirm the origins of some of the potentially good-but-not-Tiffany items, I know some people who can. If you would like to create a section for such items, I'd gladly help sort the proper attributions. There were several that looked Bohemian, circa 1920.

5. You should make it clear that sellers are welcome to discuss their questionable items with the potential of being removed from the list.

There are probably some other ideas that need to be considered, and you may well have considered them, but enough for now.

Forrest

Their Response (1):

Your ideal are all excellent and all of them were considered and there are always new issues that we consider. We operate on the idea that if it is listed as Tiffany and it is not Tiffany - it goes on the site. We could care less what it really is - only that it is not Tiffany. A piece of Loetz with a fake Tiffany signature will be placed on the site if it is offered as Tiffany. As for the seller, we have not the time nor the desire to probe the minds of those who place fake Tiffany for sale. If you have the time and desire, knock yourself out. We have thought about identifying all as we do now but as they repeat, we place a mark against their name so as to identify them as repeat offenders but this accomplishes nothing but a waste of time. Our thoughts are that if you list Tiffany, know what you are doing. We could give all of these sellers the lie detector tests to verify their intentions but that just brings up the time factor again. It was very difficult to obtain the services of the advisors and they do not want to be known and their wishes will be respected. There is plenty of room on the World Wide Web for you to become involved and we welcome your entry, TiffanyFakes.Com.

My Second E-Mail:

Sadly, in your one-size-fits-all attitude, you end up transferring incorrect information. An item listed as Tiffany or possible Tiffany that happens to be Loetz or Kralik isn't fraud, simply error or misattribution. Fraud carries intent and is a crime. Misattribution is something else entirely. When you accuse someone of fraud, you had better be certain because if you're wrong, you open yourself to a libel suit.

According to sources that I trust, some of your items pictured are not fraudulent, merely misattributed, and some of the dealers to watch are quite reputable. Despite the language at the top of the "watch" page, the overall attitude and language of the site almost certainly opens you to legal challenge by the reputable dealers.
If your site is closed, what good you could be doing will be lost. Given the rather narrow, unbudging attitude displayed in your response, I would guess that it's only a matter of time before someone does take legal action. It's unfortunate and could so easily be avoided.

Forrest

Their Response (2):

Thank you for your comments. It is nice to know that someone has taken the time to criticize the site and to make suggestions. The critics are not the people we try to help - just the uneducated and misinformed who do not know Tiffany from Loetz or fraudulent from the misattributed. Reputable dealers and reputable sellers do not fear the site and have no desire to challenge legal or otherwise. I am not sure of your motivation but I do keep copies of all correspondence and file accordingly - yours will go into the Threats file. I do not believe that FakeTiffany.Com is being used and it is a better name. TiffanyFakes.Com

My E-Mail (3):

As with your site, your e-mail shows how little you regard accuracy and truth. There was no threat anywhere in my e-mail, merely a statement of the obvious. Your disregard for accuracy and precision makes much of your site false. That shows that you really have no interest in helping "the uneducated and misinformed" since you end up spreading inaccurate information.

Reputable dealers don't fear the site because those with even minor knowledge of Tiffany recognize that your understanding of the field is severely limited and higly biased. So at this point, your misinformation has little power to harm the reputations of dealers falsely accused. I never threatened any action, merely pointed out the untenable legal position you've put yourself in. It was more a favor than a threat, like telling a blind man that he was heading toward a cliff. You seem insistent upon walking over that cliff and taking others with you.

Forrest

Their Response (3):

Thank you for your comments. It is nice to know that someone has taken the time to criticize the site and to make suggestions. The critics are not the people we try to help - just the uneducated and misinformed who do not know Tiffany from Loetz or fraudulent from the misattributed. Reputable dealers and reputable sellers do not fear the site and have no desire to challenge legal or otherwise. I am not sure of your motivation but I do keep copies of all correspondence and file accordingly - yours will go into the Threats file. I do not believe that FakeTiffany.Com is being used and it is a better name. TiffanyFakes.Com

-------------------------------------------

(I think we've determined that the site owner has no plans to correct the problems with the site.)

A Review of Tiffanyfakes.com

Written by Forrest D. Poston

When I heard that someone had started a site that showed fake Tiffany items for what they were, I thought it was a good idea. When I heard that they were also listing the eBay ids of sellers who consistently listed fraudulent Tiffany items, I thought it was a good idea that took nerve. When I visited the TiffanyFakes.com site, I discovered what happens to a good idea when it is poorly executed.

I sent an e-mail to the site owner pointing out some of the more serious flaws in hopes that the misleading aspects could be corrected, and the site could serve the purpose it claimed to have. Unfortunately, the response indicated that the owner had no real interest in accuracy and would continue behavior that could mislead many who visited the site and could potentially damage the reputation of honest sellers. (See left column for the e-mail exchange.) The problems with the site are so numerous that I have a hard time deciding which to discuss first, so I will begin with what good there is instead.

The site has two primary sections, one titled Tiffany Fakes, and one titled Sellers to Watch. The Tiffany Fakes section has numerous pictures, and some of them really are recent imports with phony Tiffany marks. At different points in this section, there is commentary about specific dealers on eBay who repeatedly list fakes or reproductions with misleading descriptions. Mixed with that are some good suggestions for how to spot a listing that should ring warning bells. Unfortunately, that's pretty much it for the good points.

For the bad parts, I'll start with the fact that there are no credentials, not even a name, anywhere on this site. It is utterly anonymous. Even e-mails lack so much as a first name in the signature, and the domain ownership itself is hidden. Run this search:

http://whois.domaintools.com/ginforsodditiques.com

and under the registrant information and the administrative information, you'll find my name and mailing address. However, enter:
http://whois.domaintools.com/tiffanyfakes.com

and all you'll find is information for DomainsByProxy.com. This is particularly interesting since the site author makes a great point of not trusting eBay sellers who hide information about their location, feedback, and bidders, but "he" is not above hiding.

On the home page, we find
THE FAKES will show you an exact picture of the items. For some reason, most of them have had the "Made in Taiwan" or "Made in China" stickers removed.
This strongly suggests that all of the pictures are of "fake" items, but this is nowhere close to true. First, there is no distinction between fantasy items (forms never made by Tiffany yet bearing a Tiffany mark) and reproductions (copies of items made by Tiffany, with or without an actual mark). For those wishing to learn, this is an important first distinction since we then know that everytime we see a fantasy item, it's simply not Tiffany, but for the reproductions it's important to know how to tell the difference.

Sure, it's easy with some items simply because the quality stinks and only fools those who want to be fooled, but some reproductions are rather good. Seeing a picture of a good reproduction only helps if there is a picture of an authentic piece for comparison and a discussion of how to tell the difference. With minor exceptions dealing with marks, this never happens on TiffanyFakes.

(As a side note, many people are disturbed because the TiffanyFakes site has evidently acquired these pictures without permission of the owner. In the case of pictures that are already being re-used in eBay scams, it's clear that those are used as legitimate examples. However, in the case of many other pictures, especially those that are not fake Tiffany, the manner in which the pictures are used is questionable at best. If the site were properly written with an educational basis and proper citation, a case could be made for the usage being legitimate. The site is not so written.)

The other important distinction not made is between fakes and misattributions. It's one thing to recognize an import with a phony mark as a fake, but calling a piece of Orient & Flume or Loetz fake Tiffany is absurd, misleading, and wrong. Many of the items pictured are fine, highly collectible items, and there is no indication of why they're included. Is it because someone put a LCT mark on them? Is it because they were listed on eBay, and the seller said it looked like Tiffany? That's a long, long way from being a fake or from making a seller questionable.

The home page also says
TIFFANYFAKES.COM is dedicated to stopping the sale of fake, fraudulently signed and questionable Tiffany Studios pieces being sold on internet auction sites. The reason is to protect the many dealers and collectors of real Tiffany Studio items that suffer every time a fake is sold or shown.

First, we must ask what credentials this concealed person has to decide which items qualify, especially for the questionable category. The Lone Ranger I trust, but this masked man is a different story. The slipshod methods used on the site certainly don't "protect the many dealers and collectors of real Tiffany Studio items". Indeed, the misinformation and misdirection common on the site is a disservice to all dealers and collectors.

That brings us to the "Sellers to Watch" section. Several of the problem sellers were identified in the Fakes section complete with examples of items listed and behavior showing that these sellers were not people you wanted to deal with. Other sellers were tarnished with less evidence or regard, but Sellers to Watch list goes completely beyond any bounds of ethics or law.

At the top of the page, we're told that most dealers on the list are guilty only of making a mistake, not intentional fraud. So why bother listing such people on a site about fakes? We're also told that some of the items in question may even be authentic Tiffany. Now, we really have to wonder why such people are on the list.

Given those circumstances, surely the list is divided into categories keeping those who make mistakes separate from the actively fraudulent sellers. Nope, everyone is on one long, alphabetical list. Well, then surely a seller who takes the time to contact the site and demonstrate that their item is authentic can be removed from the list. Nope. Once on the list, always on the list (see e-mail in the left column).

I'm not a Tiffany expert (and don't even play one on tv), but I'm fortunate enough to know several people who are experts when it comes to Tiffany and related items. They have helped distinguish between the fakes and the other items listed. Items are listed by page number, which could vary if the site is edited.

Pg 1:
The gold shades on the page are either Steuben or Quezal.

Page 3:
Gold vase with the red hearts, possibly Lundberg
Gold vase (treasureprincess) Poschinger
Gold paperweight with green vine - Orient and Flume
Blue stopper perfume - red heart and vine - Orient and Flume (probably)
Blue JIP - Vandermark
Green threaded vase (antiques auction) Bohemian
Pair of Candlesticks (Carrie) Orient and Flume
Green sprinkler - Loetz (brokerbuddies)
Gold globe (Keeponwatchin) Bohemian (probably)

Page 4:
Blue candlestick - Orient and Flume (top row)
Floriform - Lundberg - (Billask2901)
(Marvelous Merchandise) handled vase - Bohemian
Lower right the black vase by Dennis Auction - very early and important - shown in the Nash Notebooks

Page 5-

To right gold shade - this might be right
Dugee on this page is a very honest seller
Lion bronze paperweight (easht)
Counter balance floor base with newer shade (GD Earth) I wouldn't say the base is fake. And the seller might have sold it as original base with replacement shade
The gold Tiffany Furnaces box beside the floor lamp is right.

 

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Tiffanyfakes.com (Site Review)



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