See here for an article about Pitt-Rivers and fakes.

Pitt-Rivers identified some of the objects in his collections as fakes or possible fakes, see here.

Here are the items identified as fakes, forgeries or reproductions in the 2 Pitt-Rivers collections since Pitt-Rivers' day:

Founding Collection:

1884.41.193, a black pottery ware vessel said to be Chimu style from Peru. This object was examined by Dr Bill Sillar as part of the Characterzing the World Archaeology Collections project. He drew attention to the similarities between this pot (1884.41.193) and 1884.67.13 noting that this latter pot has exactly the same relief decoration on the body of the vessel as the black pot although it has a very different human head (the juncture of this head to the body of the pot having been disguised through the addition of a necklace). The red pot is smaller than the black pot and has a lower quality finish so that it is possible that the black pot served as the matrix to make a mould for the red pot.  1884.67.13 is a forgery, possibly using 1884.41.193 as a model, however the headdress, position of the spout and pierced ears of the black vessel suggest that it is not authentic Chimu either. Both these pots are clearly marked 'Peru PR Coll' and a faint inscriptions suggest that they were given to Pitt-Rivers by J Wickham Flower.  The pre-1884 date for these within the founder’s collection marks a surprisingly early example for the production of forgeries suggesting that there was already a strong market in pre-Colombian antiquities by this period.

1884.58.65 Religious emblems: Images and Accessories - Figure of fine faience, ?plaster (greenish brown), of ape with birdtail insignia of Isis and human legs, ?Thoth-ptah-sokar-Usar (?forgery) Anct Egypt [It is not known when this was identified as a possible fake]

1884.67.4 Human form in Barbaric Art and Civilised Art - Fine dark-grey pottery vessel in form of a head, aquiline type Peru Moche style ?genuine

1884.67.18 Human form in Barbaric Art and Civilised Art - Marble bust of Julius Caesar (poor stiff work) ?Roman (?Modern) (Ag 1438)

1884.77.5 Personal Ornaments Pendants - Jade tiki New Zealand. Thought by Dr von Konigswald of Utrecht to be a fake 19.5.50

1884.88.1 Clothing N American Indns - A brown leather coat with fringed sleeves, with scalping scenes and a bison hunt painted round the skirt: beaded rosettes on breast and back and beaded bands on arms: square chest and back lappets at the neck: 2 armed figures painted on the chest N American Indian A Added entry - of commercial leather with paintings not well-understood by executant, perhaps made for a Wild West Show. Dr Douglas, Denver Museum  [It is a similar story with another coat, 1884.88.2, and leggings 1884.88.3 and 1884.88.4 presumably these might have come from the same (faking) source]

1884.98.4 Writing &c - [One of] Three pieces of stone with Ogham inscriptions, from a pagan cemetery. Aghabulloge Co Cork. (black 1972-4) purch from Mr Wendell. This was identified very recently as probably reproduction, the inscription reads DINIS with an X at the end. The X shows that this inscription is from a comparatively later date, as the alphabet used is the so-called forfeda, which incorporates Greek letters to represent certain sounds. This is a later linguistic development. It is not always easy to tell which way round an inscription is to be read, but in this case the other way round would read LIQIC, but that does not make much sense. Information provided by visiting researcher Kaaren Moffat, University College Cork, February 2010.

1884.113.22 was identified as possibly fake by the first Director of the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford Music Stringed Instruments 1884.113.18 - 36 guitars - Similar instrument [to 1884.113.21], with glued membrane and small straight neck, with 2 pegs for tuning (Perhaps not genuine HB) W Africa (385) (19)

1884.140.126 Forgery purporting to be ancient cooking pot handmade representing a female cooking found in Malta and said to be from Bengazi in Cyrenaica.

1884.140.966 EUROPE, UK, ENGLAND. Bronze socketed axe-head and hammer head. Found unentered in the Upper Gallery of the Museum. Written on object "FORGERY  ENGLAND PR COLL."

1884.140.971 EUROPE, IRELAND or UK, NORTHERN IRELAND. Socketed spear head of bronze. Found unentered in the Upper Gallery. Written on the object "IRELAND, Forgery. P.R. coll."

AP June 2011

prm logo