Newsletter 241 February 21, 2017
For the past month I have been hard at work on the subject of the enormous mass of fake German militaria being manufactured and merchandised to the collecting world as genuine.
These fakes fall into a number of categories:
The first one is counterfeiting of original pieces, such as belt buckles, steel helmets, medals and decorations, uniforms and uniform accessories, and edged weapons.
The second one are so-called personality items such as items belonging to famous personalities, such as Hitler, Goering, Himmler and various leading military personalities such as Rommel, Model, Blomberg, Moelders and Hartmann. This category has everything from a field marshal’s baton to uniforms, documents, decorations and signed pictures
The third one consists of fantasy items such as created daggers and swords, altered decorations such as a wound badge in gold with diamonds or a standard Wehrmacht Army officer’s dagger gold plated and called a “General’s Honor Dagger.”
Outside of Germany, it is not illegal to manufacture items with a swastika attached and it is not illegal for a militaria dealer to purchase such items.
It is, however, illegal for a militaria dealer, or an auction house, to sell such items as authentic.
This constitutes fraud and in many cases, tax fraud and if prosecuted, would either imprison the perpetrator or heavily fine them. Or hopefully, both.
A dealer who buys a fake military buckle made recently in India, China or Poland for, say $5.00 and sells it as an authentic piece for, say $50.00 is committing fraud but at this level, no law enforcement agency would have any interest in prosecution.
However, if a dealer were to purchase, let us say, an embroidered Imperial German standard from a Pakistani embroidery firm for $200.00 and then advertise, and sell, it for $10,000, this is considered by law enforcement as a serious criminal fraud and easily prosecuted.
It is standard practice in law enforcement to apprehend an individual engaged in criminal activities, interrogate them and then offer them either a reduced sentence for a minor offense or freedom on the condition they inform on any other person in their field engaged in fraud.
So, for the past month, I have been gathering information on manufacturers of fakes with the intent of showing competent authority, and eventually the media, of the degree and extent of the merchandising of fakes and fraudulent items.
To facilitate this project, I have sent emails to many manufacturers telling them that I was a good friend of this or that dealer who recommended their products. In very many cases, the manufacturer has responded, stating this this or that dealer had purchased, and was purchasing, their products.
This ploy establishes the fact that the dealer is well aware that certain items he sells are completely fake and that he is committing provable fraud.
And once this fact is clearly established, the process begins.
By diligent searches on the Internet, we have located about fifty dealers in militaria who knowingly purchase and resell known fake items and have brought all of this factual material to competent authority.
In such matters, there is always initial caution in a field that is not known but once even a tentative investigation establishes fraud, then the process becomes active.
And a fraud is not considered to have been committed until it has been discovered.
16 thoughts on “Newsletter 241 February 21, 2017”
Thanks so much for your time and effort exposing these fraudsters. Are you going to publish your findings? Offenders and thier sources? I personally try only to deal with reputable dealers who offer a life time guarantee on authenticity. But even then, sometimes it can be a little nerve racking when dropping 2k or more on any item. I’ve inquired with a few dealers on the authenticity of items I found to be questionable. You can tell by how they respond wether or not you would want to purchase from them. Some have blatantly obvious fakes and swear to you they are real. I don’t know if they are just bad liars or they have some sort of denial in regard to thier inventory? Some dealers seem to have a sort of “collectors Stockholm syndrome” regarding thier inventory. It’s like they couldn’t possibly have bought a fake? I would be interested in seeing any information you have
dug up on the crooks. It would give me a peace of mind to know I was definitely buying from the “good guys”. I’m pretty confident that my sources for militaria are good people and honest dealers. But it would be interesting to see the results of your “study”. Thanks
I am indeed going to publish but there are constraints. Most crooked dealer keep lawyers on the string to shut up critics by threatening them with lawsuits for defamation. Only when I can prove that dealer x bought a fake Knights Cross formal paper from Italy and then resold it for big money as genuine will I publish but I prefer it if the dealer is in the toils of the law first. Then the lawyer is too busy defending him in Federal court to write scare letters. And I ought to make it clear that many smaller dealers simply do not know what is fake and what is genuine and are taken in as much as the swindled collectors. The same thing is true with illegal immigrants. Many are law-abiding, hard-working and productive, although illegal in status. Also, there are drug dealing or religious fanatical trash. Why not allow the productive ones to apply for citizenship in situ and deport the garbage? And I am always pleased to accept input on fakes and fakers and I always protect my sources.
I applaud your goals very much. But isn’t there a difference between an ignorant dealer who doesn’t know the difference between good and bad and the knowing dealer who does know the difference? I think you are dead on about knowing and even having things made. If you published their names, believe it all kinds of shyster lawyers would write letters to you demanding retractions, etc. so go around this and turn the man onto them. After all, if you know about a crime and don’t report it, they can gig you too.
I agree on this. Merely going after all the dealers is counter-productive to the collecting world. Separate the wheat from the chaff and clean up the hobby. And we don’t need forums filled with opinionated old ladies, screeching and purse-swinging over a fake dagger. Many collectors are decent and honest people who keep quiet because the grannies will attack them.
This is true. I’ve sent you material on makers and sellers of fakes and I agree that many dealers and collector/dealers just do not know. Put up more comments and ask for input and you will have a good deal of good material. And did you see a fake Hitler secret phone sold for huge money? That isn’t even a German piece! This is the sort of thing most collectors could never afford and is only about 2% of the collectors. But the Atwood daggers and Hitler assassination rifles and the fake Sepp Dietrich honor sword are typical of the frauds. Your coverage of the real vs fake RODO buckles was first class. And did the stupid ones howl! You should have seen the spit flying on the forums!
Yes, there were many very disillusioned and unhappy buckle collectors. The Thayer article showed original buckles but the dealers, and some of the collectors, had a fit because there are many fakes, all different in construction, with RODO marks. If they were correct, Dold must have changed their dies three times a month.
I’ve been collecting for about fifteen years and during this time, I notice that there is a sort of elite group of dealers at the big shows. Their tables are full of diamond covered medals and pure fantasy medals like that gross ‘Blood Order prototype’, odd daggers all gold plated or with faked ‘Damascus’ blades, Riker mounts packed with very rare bevo SS cloth, cases of gorgets that have no age (the war was over in ’45 and items do show age) and many rare general’s and admiral’s caps and so on. These elite dealers all look at visitors as if they were scum and only are friendly with suckers who can pay their huge prices. And the same dealers trash any other dealer, most often ones with good pieces. And then we have the fantasy people with fake Hitler paintings, Goering hunting daggers, Himmler chairs and so on. All of these sell for enormous amounts of money and all are fake as hell.
And the auction houses are the worst. If you want to see real fakes then look at the auction house offerings. There are good pieces being sold by really honest dealers but the big boys and the nuts on the forums trash them to keep customers away. This isn’t collecting but it is merchandising.
And I notice that many of the big dealers are people whose families had to leave Germany for whatever reason, and I wonder why they would want to sell Third Reich items?
Probably because they can make money at it. Just keep after them, show real items like those excellent medal papers and so on and eventually the crooks will dry up and go away.
The market in the expensive fakes went way up, a bubble market for certain, and like all bubble markets, it topped and then started down. That means that a dealer with an “Anzio” faked helmet paid $1,500 for it, tried to sell it for $2,000 but is stuck now because many helmet collectors know about the fake paints used to “camouflage” a beat up helmet. (The original paint was always water color based and will come off while the fakes have hobby enamel paint jobs and that does not come off) and on and on. I see they are even now faking the SS skull buttons for field caps and dozens of EM steel and aluminum belt buckles. Pretty soon, some firm in India will start making trouser buttons and we can expect to see the famous Major Gregory Nuisance write a nicely illustrated book on “Trouser Buttons of the Third Reich.” Many nice pictures of “SS General’s trouser buttons,” and “Afrika Korps officer buttons.” Of course the author has a huge collection of trouser buttons which he reluctantly will sell and then we can see on the WAF a whole section dedicated to trouser buttons. A button costing 2¢ gets retailed for $30 but it does come with a wonderful Certificate of Authenticity (the sure sign of a fake)!
Here is something for you.
On the Germania International site we see, under Third Reich, Adolf Hitler, an advertisement for “Hitler’s Allach porcelain tea set.” The picture shows the set with the Reich eagle and ‘A.H’ flanking it in gold.
Sorry to tell the buyer that this is only state china, like the silverware so marked.
This never belonged to Hitler but was considered state property and was found in state or government building mess halls.
It is worth something for sure but also for sure, it never belonged to Adolf Hitler.
I have a large sized original color photograph by Heinrich Hoffman of the dining room at Hitler’s Berghof.
One can see the long dining room table set for dinner. The picture shows Hitler’s place settings and it is very interesting to see that on the crystal glasses, the linen, the plates and all the silverware there are no marks , initials, or State eagles shown.
Everything is absolutely plain and the picture is very detailed.
We see all kinds of kitsch purporting to be “Hitler’s dinnerware” but none of it fits the original.
Collectors ought not to buy any of this very expensive material unless it is cheap and they want it to impress their friends.
The Japanese used to make “Reischmarschall Goering’s Dinnerware” for Charlie Snyder.
Also, on the same site, Germania International, there is a painting of the Bavarian castle of Neuschwannstein supposedly by Hitler.
This is a 1920s piece copied by an unknown artist from a well-known postcard of the period. Hitler never painted after the 1914 war.
He did some ink sketches of buildings for Speer but no paintings and a painting alleged to have belonged to Hitler in oils is a stone fraud.
Hitler always painted in water colors.
Delighted to hear from someone who actually knows what they are talking about.
There is little to add to this other than to comment that the Berghof was cleaned out by the SS LAH troops stationed there and they burnt such things as every one of the Ehrenburger papers.
The building was later bombed by the Americans and burnt out.
Also, Julius Schaub, Hitler’s Munich-based adjutant , went to his apartment on the Prinzregentenstrasse and destroyed anything that was connected with Hitler such as several NSDAP uniforms, papers, and such like.
Also, Hitler always carried a pistol in his right pants pocket.
The pocket was lined with leather to protect the cloth.
The pistol, registered with the Munich and Berlin police departments, was a Belgian Browning 7,65mm pistol.
Hitler was a crack shot and used to practice in the Chancellery garden.
The Berlin and Munich police files still have the original ownership forms for Hitler so the legion of fancy gold-plated pistols floating around were not Hitler’s pistol.
The Browning was picked up by Otto Guensche, another Hitler adjutant, in the Bunker and later sold to an interested party.
It is a slightly worn and used piece, is not gold-plated and doesn’t even have ivory grips.
It does, however, have the correct serial numbers which match the police permits.
I think your site, sometimes few and far between, is doing wonders for the legit collecting world.
I know you have saved me a great deal of useful money by tipping me off about fakes.
You might have a problem if you named dealers because these creeps all have lawyers (they deserve each other!) and the moment you single them out in print, you would hear from them.
I can tell you this which might cheer you up.
A collector friend, a man with money, was sold two very expensive “rare” items about six months ago from one of the bigger dealers.
The pieces were fake but the dealer said that since he had had them for a few months, he would not refund his money.
The victim apparently wrote to you, at my advice, and you were able to locate the manufacturer outside the country and confirm that he had made the fakes and that the dealer had bought them as fake…and sold them as original.
You made this point in your last newsletter. What I am getting at is that he contacted the USPS mail fraud people and because of the money, and the collector’s background, the USPS quietly opened a criminal fraud case.
The collector has kept me up on this and not only are the USPS people going after this one dealer, they are also starting to look into a few others.
The collector mentioned your name as a fraud-uncovering expert.
So if you hear from these people, you will know what it is all about.
There will be a few empty tables at the next MAX show!
Thanks again for your splendid work!
You are quite welcome.
Yes, I know about this and I have been contacted by the USPS postal inspector’s office.
I have spent over two weeks with one of them, downloading reams of information and patiently explaining things to them.
At first they treated it like a routine matter but later, the visitor brought in another inspector and, get this, someone from the IRS!
I have been at this for some time and finally, the tree is bearing fruit!
Since this is a public posting, I will not mention any names so as to tip off the crooks involved but I can say that surprises are coming!
And bless the empty tables.
Collecting militaria, German, American, Russian, Japanese, has become a bloody mess.
We have the snotty, Big Dealers who won’t even talk to you unless you have big money.
They took over the hobby although most of them don’t know sheep droppings from shoe polish.
The big shows are packed with fakes and fakers and I can recall an incident at the last MAX show. I bought a Luftwaffe private purchase “dress bayonet” with the original brown leather frog and when I stopped by a fancy table loaded with all kinds of “Damascus” can openers and so on, the dealer sneered at my bayonet, told me it was a crude fake and tried to sell me one of those fake “Hitler Youth Olympic 1936” daggers for $1,500.
I told him it was a fake and he told me to get away from his table.
I asked him if his ugly wife would come out from behind the table and bite me in the leg.
I said I hadn’t had rabies shots and he threatened to have me evicted from the show! Who can respect a pile of fly-covered pig droppings?
No, we need to so discredit these creeps that they can go back to being crossing guards at an autistic school and leave the collecting world to real collectors, not pin-head “investors” and their crooked suppliers.
The Big Boys write “informative” books, control the forums and cover the internet with their garbage. The big shows are depressing, what with the black wound badges with diamonds or “Sepp Dietrich’s Very Own Cap” in a glass case. And that Hitler Youth knife is a known fake. One dealer had twenty made up and they cost him about $50.00 and he sold them for thousands. I feel sorry for the collectors who bought them but they can do nothing to get their money back. I think a blacklist of crooks ought to be set up and circulated, not to the forums but to legit collectors. Any ideas?
I read the post about a blacklist. I have an email master list of over 5,000 collectors and dealers all over the world. I will be happy to send it to you so you can send out a black list to all of them. I will circulate my collector friends for any info they can give me on fakes and fakers and then you can slam them good!
You mentioned earlier that you have input on the people who make fakes. If you can do to them what you did to the Polish sausage who makes Eva Braun napkin rings, then the market will dry up overnight. And what about that big dealer who is an illegal alien? Get the creep deported! Trump is after anyone illegal.
I could certainly use that list! I have a list of perhaps two dozen of the more important dealers, their offerings, where they fakes come from. For example, one dealer sells old books with SS bookplates in the front. The man who was buying the non-blacklight reactive paper for him to print these has letters from him and copies of his checks. Another dealer has “rare daggers” made to order(and I have their private catalog) and a friend touting them on the WAF. This is the sort of input that the legitimate collectors need to see. And all of this because of a broken sword! (More on this later) And thanks for the offer. I have your email address and will send you a place where you can forward your list. Arthur