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be a fraud in contravention of the Act, but not a felony under the second section. The jury found that it was not a transposition, but an addition, and the prisoners were discharged. The judge, however remarked: 'It appears to me very much to be questioned whether the description of transposition in the one section is not precisely the same as the description of addition in the other section.'
We have given the facts of this trial, as stated by Mr. Chaffers at some length, because, whether we call it transposition or addition, this is the process by which forged pieces of plate are made in large quantities, and then palmed off on the unwary at a great price. Once admit the transposition or addition, and the modus operandi is easily explained. It is quite enough for the forger to become possessed of a small piece of Elizabethan plate with a clear mark. It may be a spoon, or a small paten, which last are not uncommon. He has now got his genuine hall-mark, which he inserts into some fine piece, which is accordingly fabricated under his hands. In this he reverses the process of the potter in Horace:
His spoon or paten appears in the market as a noble vase or cup, or beaker; and what he acquired, it may be for one pound, now commands hundreds. In the same way much of our old plate had the linings of silver also hall-marked. These are acquired by the forger, and by the process of transposition and addition become magnificent pieces, to deck the side-boards of eager buyers. In the same way old plain spoons of the time of Anne, under addition, and perhaps by multiplication, also pass into Apostle spoons, or Postles,' as Mr. Chaffers calls thein, by the addition of modern statuettes, either forged for the purpose, or cut from some base German spoon. Many things are cunning,' said Sophocles, but nothing is more cunning than man;' and this is certainly the case with our modern plate-forgers, many of whose works are admirable, only they are not antique. We have heard a good story on this point from one of our friends, who, having acquired at one coup two German fourteenth-century cups and covers exquisitely wrought, which were, after much investigation, proved to be forgeries by a well-known German maker, set off with them to the Continent, and bursting into the workshop of the forger, who was calmly pursuing his trade, cried, Was it you who made these fourteenth-century cups?' The answer was admirable. Yes, I did; and I am not ashamed of them. You see they bear Fir cone of Augsburg as their
Vol. 141.-No. 282.
mark, but this is not Augsburg, and so I can make fourteenthcentury plate with that mark.' Against such a forger as thisa great artist in his way-we scarce know what is to be said, except that, as the workmanship was fine and the price moderate, our friend had not very much to complain of. Besides, he ought to have known, that to be able at one moment to acquire two such works of art of the fourteenth century was something quite beyond the bounds of possibility. Much of our forged English plate is of quite another character. When we behold beakers with the peculiar strap or belted work of Anne's time bearing marks of the days of Elizabeth, we pass them by, wondering at the simplicity which can be so easily satisfied. Again, when we see pieces decorated with the peculiar gadrooned edge and border of Elizabeth; the sea-monsters of the reign of her successor; or the masks, and belts and strap-work of the earlier Tudor Sovereigns, and yet stamped with the hall-marks of Charles II., we see at once that the forger has been again busy with his transpositions and additions. We detect his nefarious practices with half an eye, and will have nothing to do with his art-manufactures. Latterly, however, some fine pieces have appeared which would seem to be entirely fabricated, marks and all, and so cleverly as not to present any of the anomalies which we have just pointed out; the marks, and taste, and style, and workmanship, being consistent with the period of which the piece pretends to be. Thus we have seen Apostle spoons, and fine ones, too, of the reign of Henry VII., with their correct number of marks; salt-cellars of the reign of Mary and Elizabeth; beakers of the time of James; and goblets and highstanding cups of the reign of Charles I., so cunningly executed as to deceive the best judges, if each piece be submitted to them singly. But if it be the lot of any one well acquainted with the subject to see a whole collection of such pieces, he will at once discern a similarity of design between them, which will be wholly wanting between the several pieces of a genuine collection. The effect produced on the mind of the collector when in some thirty pieces he perceives the same dolphins, the same sea-monsters, the same double-seeded Tudor roses, the same floriated bands, the same borders, and, though last not least, the same armorial bearings, is very like that produced on the mind of Robinson Crusoe when he stumbled on the footprint of the savage on his desert-island. There arises a feeling of alarm, and an apprehension that somehow or other all cannot be quite right. It is pretty certain that many of the pieces in question are produced by the help of the electrotype, by which, as Mr. Chaffers well points out, an ancient vase, cup, or any piece
of plate may be moulded with the greatest exactness, showing the minutest chasing and engraving, and even the hammermarks of the original, as well as the hall-mark itself.' It appears to us as though a band of forgers had thus moulded one or two fine ancient models, and had then fabricated pieces in which the details of the originals are variously blended, and reproduced as antique pieces. Sometimes the London hall-mark is boldly affixed to these, whether by actual forgery or by transposition depends on having an old spoon or pattern with a good mark ready to their hands. But the region in which the forger especially delights to range is that of England, out of the metropolitan district. Out of this undefined district come numerous pieces bearing the old Newcastle, or what is said to be the old Newcastle, mark. With Exeter and Norwich the same liberty is taken; and even the crowned X and the Radcliffe and Easton of the former city have not escaped these unprincipled imitations.
As for the means of detection suggested by Mr. Chaffers, they are such as can hardly be applied until after the deception has been successful, and the piece has passed from the hands of the forger to that of the collector. It is not every one who is in a position on the instant to have a piece which he wishes to purchase assayed, to ascertain if its separate pieces are of the same alloy, or to detect the edge of a transposed hall-mark by applying the fumes of sulphur, or by the use of the blow-pipe. These are the tests rather for the exposure of fraud after it has been accomplished in the sale of a fabricated article, and they are practically ineffectual, because few men, when they have been cheated, would care to take so much pains to reveal their own folly. The real weapons against such deceptions consist in caution and good advice. Few people would venture to buy a professed diamond or other precious stone on their own judgment, lest that should happen to them which befell a noted foreign millionaire, who bought for a large price a reputed sapphire, which was fortunately found to be only an antique paste before he had completed the purchase. Fewer still would buy on their own judgment a fine coin-or, to come down to more domestic matters, a fine horse-unless in each case they had special knowledge, and were diamond dealers, numismatists, or, as the case might be, horse breeders. The same rule holds good with plate in these collecting days. The time is long past when, in any provincial town, or, for that matter, in shops in London streets, plate of the time of Queen Anne, and occasionally choice pieces of earlier reigns, and more especially spoons, could be bought at a moderate price. In our own experience 2 D 2
what are commonly called Apostle spoons, or seal-headed spoons, or, rarer still, slipped spoons, which mark the mixture of Puritanical leaven into society, have gradually risen from 15s. or 17. a-piece to 67. or 77. for very ordinary examples. About twenty years ago, long before the Tichborne family was so famous in the trials of the age, a dozen of Apostle spoons belonging to the cousin of the real Roger Tichborne were sold at Christie's. We remember thinking that we might buy them for 507., but our bidding soon grew into 1507., and when we desisted the biddings still went on, till they were knocked down for a sum closely approaching 4007., to some one whom we then regarded as a lunatic. If these spoons were put up to auction to-morrow it is more than probable that they would realise 10007., a sum which, in our opinion, would be exceeded by a set of twelve Apostle spoons bearing the date 1519, and purchased by Mr. Staniforth at the sale of the Bernal Collection. In the face of such prices, when forgeries abound, and when every one who is in possession of a genuine thing—be it picture, print, china, precious stone, or plate-is well aware of its worth, and probably puts an exaggerated value on it, what more can we do than repeat to the intending plate buyer those two words-caution and good advice? Of one thing he may be quite certain, that if he fortifies himself with these two requisites, he will never ruin himself in buying what we call old English plate, by which term we mean plate made before the Great Civil War.
Every one who has the means may in a few years make a good collection of Caroline or Queen Anne plate. He will have to pay handsomely for the last; and as yet it has not proved remunerative enough to attract much attention from our ingenious forgers, though how long this happy state of things may last we decline to say. There is still plenty of it, and it has to some eyes a beauty of its own in its plainness and general poverty of design. So also there is a sufficient quantity of Caroline plate-that is, of plate made between 1660 and 1690-still existing to afford occasional fine pieces, and so to make a market. But if he confines his attention to the days before 1660 he will have to wait years before he can pick up ten or a dozen pieces, setting spoons aside. In a celebrated collection dispersed last year, and which was more than a quarter of a century in collection, there were not more than thirty pre-Caroline pieces; in Mr. Dexter's not more than ten ; and in Lord Willoughby's sale only one. So scarce is plate of this quality that, as we have said, a collector can hardly ruin himself, even if he pays the enormous prices which genuine pieces fetch. Of course he may ruin himself if he falls into the hands of the forgers, and in a
year or two acquires a whole sideboard of real old English plate. Mr. Chaffers, with an honest indignation that his book, which affords so much valuable information to collectors, should have been turned to base advantage by forgers, recommends the consideration of this subject by the Government. According to him, 'the perpetrators of forged hall-marks should be sought for with diligence, and visited with condign punishment.' In this we quite agree; the only question is-as the landowner said, who saw his mangold eaten by his neighbour's rabbits-how to catch them. It is of course incumbent, as he declares,' upon the authorities to use their best endeavours to put a stop to such practices,' but, unfortunately, what we may be forgiven for calling the incumbency' of a duty, does not always secure its fulfilment. It is all very well to say that all 'spurious plate should be seized wherever it may be found, and the dealer be made amenable and subject to penalties, as in France,' but this is just one of the things we suspect which they manage in France, from the severity of their laws, better than we do here in England. The Solicitor to the Treasury-that much-worked man-or the Master and Wardens of the Goldsmiths' Company might seize plate and indict dealers, and after all discover that that great Constitutional safeguard, a British jury, might find -especially if hoodwinked by experts, and well-handled by clever counsel that so far as they could see, these spurious pieces did not differ in the least from genuine pieces of old plate; and so the fraudulent dealer would depart on the path of his nefarious practices, rejoicing. We have seen the view which an enlightened British jury took of transpositions and additions, in the year 1849, in the case submitted to them by Lord Denman, and we do not think that their powers of discrimination have much improved since that period. What protection then remains for the unwary collector? None in the existing state of the law, but that contained in the old legal maximas sound now as it ever was-caveat emptor.