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Author Topic:   Autopens, conterfeits, replicas and knock-offs
Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-18-2006 09:23 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NPR (National Public Radio) is running a series of features this week on the subject of pirated and conterfeit goods (the one I heard yesterday was about knock-off automobile parts). The radio spots are timed with the arrival of China's President to the U.S., as its expected that his nation's problems with such will be a subject of discussion during some of his meetings here.

Applying that topic to our niche, why are patches produced by third-parties (other than those hired by the artist to do so) of interest and/or acceptable to collectors?

Among autograph collectors, labeling an autopen as an autograph is generally frowned upon, if not downright criticized. With few exceptions, the market for autopens is nil, even though they do have a degree of authenticity, having been issued by the space agency itself.

Stamp and coin collectors have no tolerance for counterfeit products. Riser and his covers are just one example.

Artifact collectors are always seeking provenance. While replicas are offered and purchased, there is an insistence that they are marketed as such and most manfucturers voluntarily add minor mistakes or changes to their product to avoid later confusion.

So why are patch copies acceptable to collectors?

nitro
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posted 04-18-2006 09:48 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for nitro   Click Here to Email nitro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm sure it has a lot to do with the fact that not all collector's have deep enough pockets to be so critical to only collect "authentic" items. Also, consider that a limited production "replica" is much more desireable than some authentic designs...i.e. a replica STS-61E patch is much harder to come across than an AB Emblems Apollo 11. How many of those have been produced...a few billion? As long as people aren't trying to pass the replicas off as originals, I don't see the problem. Proclaiming something to be something that it isn't, is just wrong! There's no question about that one. But who is to say that a young collector that is just getting started and has a limited budget, isn't worthy of having an example of some design in their collection because they don't have enough of a budget to spend a couple of hundred bucks on the real deal. And let's not lose the fact that there are MANY replica coins available to collectors. I know of a whole group of Morgan silver dollars that are produced currently. Oh, and there is that 1909 S VDB penny replica that is available. How about stamps? The famous upside down airplane stamp is available as a replica too. In anything that people feel the need to collect, there is going to be replicas available. There just aren't enough of the originals to fulfil the demand by new generations of collectors!

[This message has been edited by nitro (edited April 18, 2006).]

KSCartist
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posted 04-18-2006 11:51 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for KSCartist   Click Here to Email KSCartist     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Robert-

I understand your point-but I think the better question is why do those who manufacture replicas get away with not identifying them as such.

Nitro's on the mark when it comes to the price tag. I think your average collector just wants to own a patch that reflects the artwork accurately.

I used to think of myself as an educated collector-that is until I joined cS. I started collecting patches in 1969 but was never interested in Lion Bros. because I heard that AB emblem was the "official" supplier. But I've seen patches from overseas that are a better quality than AB. I've mentioned this before: during STS-32 I brought to my boss' attention that the patch we offered wasn't accurate because the two symbols at 9:00 and 3:00 were missing. He showed me a copy of a letter from Dan Brandenstein stating that those symbols could not be embroidered accurately (by AB Emblem) so they would not be on the embroidered patch. I have a replica that shows those symbols beautifully.

I'd like Ed H. or one of our other photo gurus to post a photo of the STS-32 crew to see their patch.

The best rule is to know what you are buying.

Tim

benguttery
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posted 04-18-2006 01:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for benguttery   Click Here to Email benguttery     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Believe it or not, there have been collectors who have helped enact Federal legislation to protect their hobby from fakes, imitations, reproductions, etc. It dates back more than 30 years and is called the Hobby Protection Act. It can be found in Section 304 of Title 16 the US Code of Federal Regulations (16 CFR 304). It deals almost exclusively with coins and political collectibles. Below are a couple links to give you an idea of what they did. Part of the rule deals with the proper labeling of reproductions or copies.
http://www.collectors.org/Library/Hobby_Protection_Act.asp http://www.harryrinker.com/noprotec.html

spaceman
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posted 04-18-2006 03:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaceman   Click Here to Email spaceman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Wow Ben,
and I thought space collectors and their habits were a bit weird.I visited the collectors club sites; the 'Old Spicers' and the 'Antique Doorknob Collectors of America' drew particular attention...but in their own way they preserve items that would otherwise be lost.Please don't tell me their are 'Brut' collectors out there.....might have a bottle left to go with my gold medallion and chest wig.....
Nick.
Spaceman

spacesouppatches
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posted 04-19-2006 12:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for spacesouppatches   Click Here to Email spacesouppatches     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
CBS “Sunday Morning” program also ran a segment this week regarding counterfeiting in China. In this case it was replicating art works that were done by the masters; Rembrandt, Goya, Dali, Monet, Van Gogh, Renoir. They were done by a town full of artists that set up a production line and hand paint each piece. In one program scene there were 10 to 15 easels of the same painting with the painter going down the line adding the next layer and color. I think this is a perfect example of what Nitro commented on in his post.

Not everyone can own an original of the Masters, and if you want to see one, you either visit a major museum or read a book. The CBS story related to thousands of these full size reproductions as being sold to people who want to enjoy them in homes, offices, and public places. Why NOT?

The quality of embroidery that Tim referred to in his post is another example of why people will buy patch copies. AB emblem has had issues with quality for a long time, even as far back as the ones manufactured in the Apollo era. Finding an original is not the problem for these, but finding one that was made correctly is. The artwork has certainly changed from the patches they produced at the time of the mission to the ones currently being produced. Gene Dorr’s website is a wonderful example of a collector that admires a patch that most closely matches the artist’s concept and work. He indicated to me recently, that some of the best patches matching original artwork are recent repros that he included on his site, in his words “because they are darn good.”

The most active posting on the CS “patches and pins” message board this year is the one with 72 posts advocating “quality reproductions”! Yes, it was pretty much a unanimous decision that patch collectors needed to have exact “REPLICAS” down to the “i.e. sizes, colors, features*, version, etc. (* e.g. for Gemini 5, do we want to attempt having a piece of fabric sewn over the "8 Days or Bust"?).” It seemed like every known collector on Earth chimed in to endorse and be a part of “making a copy of an original patch”

This is history we are collecting. You don’t have to have Kennedy’s hand written copy of the speech at Rice University to get excited about our space program. Reading a copy or having a copy as part of your collection captures and expresses that moment. In my mind, so does a patch copy!

Ron

Go4Launch
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posted 04-20-2006 10:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Go4Launch   Click Here to Email Go4Launch     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Robert,

This is an excellent question. My answer focuses on US manned spaceflight patches, but might apply to other space patches.

My view is that an authentic or official embroidered patch can be established for every manned flight from Gemini 5 to the present under the definition that it was either sewn onto the crews' pressure suits, or, in the case of Apollo 7 through ASTP, it was worn by the crewmen aboard their recovery ships (or had crewman ground use at the time of the mission).

Any variant to those runs of patches therefore becomes "unauthentic." Collectors who recognize that can correctly call them replicas or copies even knock-offs. One of my favorite terms is "commemorative."

I believe the major reason these replicas became acceptable to many collectors is that until Apollo 13, authentic patches were not commercially-available. Today as a result, I don't believe any single complete collection of authentic patches from Gemini 5 through Apollo 12 is in private or perhaps even government hands.

The problem arises when the remakes are misrepresented as duplicates of the official patches and have a big price tag attached. Then I think the label "counterfeit" starts to apply.

With regard to nitro's comments on a 61-E patch: I admit that's true in terms of numbers, and in a sense that's what "collecting" is all about. But is an authentic 61-E patch worth more than an authentic Apollo 11 patch? Probably not.

Plus any US stamp and coin reproductions must be a different size or have some way to permanently differentiate them from the real ones.

I'd say that like any hobby, the "serious" or hard-core space patch collector strives to only own the authentic patches (recognizing, like some stamps, that some will never be available to them).

The rest seem to me to be essentially placeholders and each collector must decide what value to put on them. Would a good analogy be having color photocopies of a stamp cover or an autograph in your collection of covers/photos?

I am uneasy about making up patches that never existed, however, since there's therefore no "originals" to compare them with. I worry too many collectors will come to regard these as genuine "period" patches when they are more recent remakes.

As far as duplicating a current patch that's not available, it's true there's not the "era" factor but still the danger of misrepresentation...

John Bisney

[This message has been edited by Go4Launch (edited April 20, 2006).]

[This message has been edited by Go4Launch (edited April 20, 2006).]

spaced out
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posted 04-21-2006 02:51 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaced out   Click Here to Email spaced out     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Go4Launch:
The rest seem to me to be essentially placeholders and each collector must decide what value to put on them. Would a good analogy be having color photocopies of a stamp cover or an autograph in your collection of covers/photos?

I think it's taking things to an extreme there by restricting things to the 'official' patches. Most people appreciate Lion Brothers patches, for example, and vintage AB patches, without treating them solely as placeholders.
Besides, the crews took patches by many companies with them on missions. NASA also used all kinds of patches in official presentations.
Also, the issue of an 'offical patch' is a tricky one in some cases. What if the embroidered patch used on overalls during training or for an official crew photo was different to the one used at the time of recovery? I would have said that after Apollo 1 you could only really call the beta cloth patches the 'official' ones.

[This message has been edited by spaced out (edited April 21, 2006).]

Go4Launch
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posted 04-21-2006 09:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Go4Launch   Click Here to Email Go4Launch     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I take spaced out's point that "after Apollo 1 you could only really call the beta cloth patches the 'official' ones" -- I tried to leave that escape hatch by including patches that "had crewman ground use at the time of the mission ('time' to be interpreted liberally!)."

It's also true that "the crews took patches by many companies with them on missions. NASA also used all kinds of patches in official presentations." But how can the 'real deal' be anything except duplicates from the original runs of what these amazing men actually wore. I personally define that for Apollos 7 through 17 as recovery ship jumpsuit use.

Still, is it really "taking things to an extreme there by restricting things to the 'official' patches?"

I don't suggest anyone restrict their collections except by their own desires; but I also collect only authentic autographs and covers, etc. so while it clearly comes down to what each collector personally values, the marketplace alone (and I think some respect for history and authenticity) says there's SOME premium on patches that are tied as closely as possible to the mission.

I also call replicas "placeholders" because I abide by the collecing school of thought that likes to "upgrade" an item when possible when something more mint or authentic comes along.


[This message has been edited by Go4Launch (edited April 21, 2006).]

[This message has been edited by Go4Launch (edited April 21, 2006).]

nitro
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posted 04-22-2006 12:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for nitro   Click Here to Email nitro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
John nailed it right there...I don't mind having a replica patch in my collection to fill a hole, but when the opportunity arises later to add the real deal at a price I can afford, that's what I will have. Of course, authentic patches require and deserve a premium price over a copy. Its all about representing an item honestly...if its authentic, GREAT...if its a replica, SAY SO...and if you are not sure, SAY THAT and let the buyer decide! Happy collecting , everyone!

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-22-2006 12:42 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Interesting responses by all... let me ask an additional question:

Should those who produce replicas be encouraged to introduce errors or hallmarks to the design to avoid any chance that the replica be interpreted as real? Or is the exactness of the replica more important to collectors?

KSCartist
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posted 04-22-2006 05:20 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for KSCartist   Click Here to Email KSCartist     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Robert-

I think the only way to avoid being scammed is for us collectors to educate ourselves. I understand the idea of a hallmark - but couldn't an unscrupilous (sp) manufacturer recreate the hallmark?

We have to be aware who makes the embroidered patch for the crew. The problem arises when the crews wear more than one patch. Take Apollo 10 for example - the crew wore one patch on their WSS for their portrait and another on their coveralls after splashdown. (for the sake of this discussion I'm only talking embroidered patches).
IMHO - we can only try to put patches in our collection that recreate the original artwork as faithfully as possible. Thats the reason we want to recreate the Gemini series.

The reason we collect them is to share an "espirit de corps" with the crews and those who put them in space. There will always be people who try and take advantage of a collector - but if we educate ourselves with the help of people like Gene, Jacques, Ron and cS - we can avoid being duped.

In my collection I've got vintage AB, current AB, Lion Bros, and only one I consider authentic, my flown Exp 11. But I consider them more than placeholders because I don't have the time or resources to track down every "official" patch out there. But thats just me. In no way would I criticize anyone else and their collection or criteria.

So while I endorse your idea of a hallmark, I don't think it will stop those intent on scamming.

Tim

benguttery
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posted 04-22-2006 09:08 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for benguttery   Click Here to Email benguttery     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Being a military patch collector in the 1970s when that market was first hit by a number of reproductions, some dealers, knowing what they had, stamped REPRO on the back of the patch with a rubber stamp. A kind gesture to help their fellow dealers who might not be as scrupulous to identify what they have. Great for collectors.

I also have some experience collecting political items. There are no shortages of reproductions in that area, but many are marked and if you know where to look for where it says COPY you are covered. If you also look to that spot and see an unusual mark that looks like it has been scraped off, you should also assume it is a copy.

Both areas have been hit by what are called “fantasy” pieces. These are items made by collectors or dealers which never existed either before, during, or after the real thing. These dupe both experienced and inexperienced collectors alike. The political collectors threw a fellow out of their organization because he had made a number of political buttons up passing them off for original when they were really creations from his imagination.

There is, however, nothing better than experience when it comes to looking for original patches. It is your collection; collect what you want and enjoy it.

Go4Launch
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posted 04-22-2006 11:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Go4Launch   Click Here to Email Go4Launch     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Tim is correct -- I was amazed to see the fake Lion Bros. patches as shown in an earlier thread here. Can they be worth that much effort??

On the question of whether exactness outweighs a hallmark - A cleverly-hidden hallmark likely would not detract from the appearance. I think any replica made by/for collectors intended to be so faithful to an authentic patch of significant value that it would tempt unscrupulous sellers to misrepresent it as such should always be marked.

John

John

lewarren
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posted 04-23-2006 08:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for lewarren   Click Here to Email lewarren     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In my opinion, ALL patches are replicas.

They are replicas of an emblem.

[This message has been edited by lewarren (edited April 23, 2006).]

spaced out
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posted 04-24-2006 02:32 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaced out   Click Here to Email spaced out     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Go4Launch:
I was amazed to see the fake Lion Bros. patches as shown in an earlier thread here. Can they be worth that much effort??


I wasn't so sure in the end that they were actually fakes. Since they came from the same source as a clearly genuine Apollo 17 Lion Brothers patch that had a plastic backing my impression was that perhaps these patches were experiments by LB. They could have been trying new machines or methods, just as they experimented with backings on the AS17 patch.

All times are CT (US)

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