Skip to navigation – Site map

HomeEGG Special IssuesEGG 1Comptes-rendusScientific investigation of copie...


Scientific investigation of copies, fakes and forgeries (Paul Craddock,ed.)

Oxford, Butterworth-Heinemann, 2009
Nico Broers
Bibliographical reference

Scientific Investigation of Copies, Fakes and Forgeries, Edited by Paul Craddock, Oxford, Butterworth-Heinemann, 2009, 640 p.,7 7/16 X 9 11/16 inch, ISBN: 978-0-7506-4205-7

Index terms

Keywords :

art, science, copie, faux, contrefaçon


art, science, copy, fake, forgery
Top of page

Full text

  • 1  The author quotes on page 19 “ This book is dangerous” , the opinion expressed by H.Robert Campbel (...)

1This book is not dangerous1, but probably the most comprehensive account on copies, fakes forgeries and their disclosure ever written.

2The author, Paul Craddock, former material scientist at the British Museum, wrote numerous publications on metals and their use in antiquities and art. This book, however, describes all kinds of materials encountered in art, archaeological artefacts, and antiques and of course copies, fakes and forgeries.  The materials covered range from metals to plastic and the types of object discussed extend from ceramic pots and sculptures to paintings and photographs.

3The author treats the subject of authenticity by outlining the history of forgery. A comprehensive literature review on the topic is provided. The concept of authenticity is discussed in depth. The author stresses the need for interdisciplinary cooperation in the field of fraud detection. Some might think that a book that informs on how fakes are detected and consequently on how they are manufactured, might actually promote forgery. But as the author concludes “One does not fight fraud with ignorance”.

4A three step scientific approach to authenticity is proposed: visual examination; analysis of materials; establishing age. The first chapters outline the main observation and analytical techniques used to examine and authenticate antiquities and fine art as well as dating techniques. Past and recent technologies used in copying are described. The book looks at the process of making a cast, the pointing technique, digital scanning and electroforming as well as the history of the different techniques. Clues on how to detect the different copying techniques, when confronted with an object, are given.

5The knowledge gained can then be fine tuned by reading the upcoming chapters where artefacts and art objects are considered separately depending on their materials and techniques used in their creation. Metals, ceramics, glass and enamels, stone and sculpture, paintings, paper and prints, gold and silver, gemstones and jade, natural and synthetic organic materials as well as the patination of copper and copper alloys are discussed. For each topic, the history, the making of, the dating techniques, the scientific examination and analytical tools used to explore an object, the recognition of wear and tool marks as well as the making of copies and fakes is explained and also illustrated by case studies.

6The last two chapters are dedicated to scientific fraud and deception. The author reopens ‘The Dawson case’. Charles Dawson (1864 to 1916) was a solicitor in Sussex and amateur archaeologist. His most known con, and probably the biggest scientific fraud ever done, is the Piltdown man, the finding of the remains of an unknown hominid. In the last chapter, the impact of conservation treatments on the study of authenticity as well as the difference between conservation treatments and restoration aiming to disguise damage are discussed.  

7A most complete bibliography counting more than 2400 references shows the extent of the research undertaken to document this exceptional publication. This book is clearly a must for conservators, curators, scientists, art historians, archaeologists and everybody else who is interested in antiquities and the disclosure of fakes and forgeries.

Top of page


1  The author quotes on page 19 “ This book is dangerous” , the opinion expressed by H.Robert Campbell, president of the American Numismatic Society from 1999-2001, about a book by Larson C.M. entitled Numismatic Forgery: An Illustrated, Annotated Guide to the Practical Principles, Methods and Techniques Employed in the Private Manufacture of Rare Coins, which appeared in 2004.   

Top of page


Electronic reference

Nico Broers, Scientific investigation of copies, fakes and forgeries (Paul Craddock,ed.)”CeROArt [Online], EGG 1 | 2010, Online since 15 November 2010, connection on 25 February 2024. URL:; DOI:

Top of page

About the author

Nico Broers

Diplômé de l'ÉSA Saint-Luc de Liège et titulaire d'un Master en conservation de l'Université de Northumbria (Newcastle), Nico Broers exerce en tant que restaurateur indépendant ; il enseigne parallèlement au sein d’un Master spécialisé en Techniques et matériaux contemporains de la restauration. Il travaille régulièrement en collaboration avec les Monuments et les Sites luxembourgeois.

By this author

Top of page



The text only may be used under licence CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. All other elements (illustrations, imported files) are “All rights reserved”, unless otherwise stated.

Top of page
Search OpenEdition Search

You will be redirected to OpenEdition Search