Fakes, reproductions, replicas,
an investigative report, by Harry Ridgeway 

Fakes, reproductions, replicas,
CSA rectangle buckle, pewter, Confederate plates 112 & 113

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Original is crude cast, variations noted in the lettering, made from white metal, probably pewter

F1413      CSA rectangle made of pewter

This plate was brought to me for analysis by a reputable dealer who was suspicious of this piece.

Plate measures 49.8mm x 74.2mm

It turns out his plate was made by Ray Dunkum who contacted me about this plate.  He indicated that he made 15 or 20 of these in the mid 1990's for a group of re-enactors.  He charged $20 apiece for the buckle.  It was obviously not a money thing for him, he made it to have something for this group that no other group of re-enactors would have.  Somewhere along the way, a couple of these guys got greedy, and at least two or three of these plates are now circulating around the collecting community.  It is awfully close to correct, and had several experts scratching their heads when this was brought to the Nashville show, Dec 2007 to be analyzed.  Although the dealer that owned it had paid large dollars for it, he did not try to sell it and instead got every buckle expert in the building to look at it, initially the vote was about 3 to 1 in favor of it being good.

Mr Dunkum explains that this is made from "Linotype" and is made in the manner of the old fashioned printer fonts (when print presses really were presses).  These were cast from a steel mold, the linotype, sometimes called German silver, is very hard.  The buckle has a beveled edge which was done to smooth the edge, the originals will not have this edge.  Hooks were soldered onto the back, there is an extra solder blob on this example, that is because he got the hooks backwards initially on this piece, caught it and moved the tongue to the other side.  Other examples will not have this error.  Because this is a different metal from the original (it is not pewter or a variation of pewter) the buckle has slightly the wrong color and if the metallurgy were to be tested, it would fail any chemical analysis, otherwise it is a very good copy.  There shouldn't be too many of them out there, the maker claims he only made about 20 to start with and the lettering detail will match on all twenty. 

And now the story!  The seller claimed this had been grandpappy's buckle for at least 50 years and that they believed it may have come from an ancestor.  It was sold along with a soldier letter and a picture.  If all of these three pieces were authentic and really had any real connection to each other, this would have been an impressive group, but alas it was not to be.  With Mr Dunkums assistance, we were able to tell this seller that his story was completely bogus, and at this writing the dealer is attempting to collect his money.  Now it is doubtful the letter or picture are any good either, by association, it probably is a letter from an unidentifed source along with a picture of somebody, but for sure it was not this guy's ancestor.

This story has a happy ending because the dealer community worked together to analyze and expose this piece, and the maker cooperated fully to expose and explain it.  The difference is this guy made it for the fun of it, and not to cheat people.

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