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Old 01-10-2009, 03:03 PM
Jeff Bollbach Jeff Bollbach is offline
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Join Date: 01-21-2007
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This is an interesting and dangerous subject. I use the word dangerous because I believe now is the time that fraudulent basses are apt to enter the market in heretofore unprecedented numbers. There have always been deceptive copies of the smaller instruments simply due to the fact that they had value. But most of us know older bassists who were able to pick up great Italian basses for a few hundred dollars not too long ago. No one is going to bother to expertly copy such an instrument without much value. However, nowadays with basses fetching hundreds of thousands of dollars its a completely different story. While it is a daunting task to construct a convincing copy of a golden age Cremonese bass it is a bit less challenging to create a replica of an Italian bass 50 to 100 years old. Like Ken's "Bisiach", instruments in this price range are now worth putting the effort in to make a fraud. Now in the violin world there are more than a few experts who would be very hard to fool, they have just so much history doing that kind of thing. The bass world is a different story. I think Ken has a really great eye and I have nothing but respect for Arnold. However I think that few of us [myself included] in the bass world are very well prepared if we start seeing masterful forgeries of basses. Here's a story to illustrate how one of the most prominent experts was fooled. I took in a bass on trade some years ago from Bill Blossom of the NYP. It was labeled as a Dalla Costa and in fact was apparently Italian and of that period although I doubted that name strongly. Pietro Antonio Dalla Costa was said to make a few basses but his workmanship was highly masterful and this bass was anything but. The bass came to me without a scroll so I resolved to fashion a convincing fake. I pulled out all the stops and was pleased with the result. I sold the bass to a nice fellow new to the Houston Symphony letting him know of course that the scroll was a new one. A little less than two years passed and he graciously called me to say he loved the bass but was trading it in for a bigger bass [it was a little delicate]. It went to a very large internationally known shop. Some time went by and I got a call from the then stranger to me Ken Smith. His keen observational skills had noticed that I detailed on my website the construction of the fake and in fact it was listed on this "internationally known expert appraiser's" online archives as a bonafide Dalla Costa with original scroll and was sold as such. Ken found that quite amusing as did I. I am still amazed he figured that out. You might say-well you did a good job and I did, but not that good. A real expert would have known it was a forgery. It is just my opinion that at this time it is not that hard to put over a forgery so anyone contemplating buying an old bass really needs to be aware of this.
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