chapter  9
14 Pages

Restoration, pastiche and fakes

WithSusan La Niece

The term fake evokes an image of a complete fabrication, like Van Meegeren’s ‘Vermeers’, made deliberately to deceive. In reality, such outright fakes are far outnumbered by the genuinely ancient objects which have been ‘restored’ to the extent that they are almost a creation of the restorer. A complete and undamaged example of a fragile ceramic is a collector’s item, but only the archaeologist is interested in a bag of sherds. There is clearly a strong incentive to produce what the buyer wants. Restoration has not always been carried out with fraudulent intentions; there are many objects in museums which have been repaired so skilfully it is not easy to find the joins. The aim was to restore the object to its ‘original state’ and make it easier for the viewer to appreciate. There was no intention to deceive. The dividing line between fake and restoration is a hazy one and has not always been consistent ( Jones 1990, 1992; Craddock forthcoming).