Any item which has artistic or financial value, in time, will usually be copied or faked and Baxter Prints were no exception. There are a number of known fakes or forgeries, mainly produced at the height of the Baxter collecting boom of the 1920's.
Here we hope to describe the main types of fakes and illustrate as many as possible.
For ease we have tried to categorise them and have put them under the following headings:
1 - 1920's photographic reproductions
2 - Signed 'Baxter Patent Oil Printing'
3 - Hand coloured Baxter prints
4 - Later reprints in monochrome
5 - Baxter 'applied' signature
6 - Fake 'printed' signature
7 - Fake stamped mounts
8 - Sundry fakes
Some images fall into more than one category, for example, the plate of The Moorish Bride is a a 'posthumous Baxter' so falls into section 2. When the print is trimmed and the signature removed it is often found hand coloured and can then be categorised under section 3 (although technically not a hand coloured 'Baxter' print). It can also be found printed monochrome and in this state it is a good example of a later reprint, section 4.
Although we have tried to be as comprehensive as possible, we feel sure that we have not mentioned them all. Please fell free to tell us of any we may of missed, with images if possible. We always welcome contributions from our 'readers'.
1 - 1920's photographic reproductions
Reproductions of Baxter Prints produced by a 'three colour process', they tend to show very similar characteristics. Very flat in appearance, without the normal 'depth' of a Baxter print, they look like illustrations taken from a book from the early 20th century. When you look closely at the print, perhaps with a magnifying glass, you will see a uniform grid pattern over all the print caused by the printing process, it is especially noticeable in the backgrounds. Baxter's backgrounds were mainly printed by an aquatint process and appear very smooth, a solid block of colour.
Until you have seen these prints it is very easy to be mistaken, especially as the majority come with fake stamped mounts, with and without titles. The mounts themselves are always made of a rough card with visible fibres, usually an orangey cream colour, as against Baxter's smoother high quality card. These and Le Blond needlebox prints, also on a fake embossed mount which can be seen in section 7, are possibly from the same 1920's faker as a majority of them we see come in exactly the same, plain black frame.
The most common examples of this kind of fake are:
HRH Prince Albert CL 210
To the left the 1920's photographic reproduction. As well as the standard traits, in the fake, the blue sash always appears to stand right out of the print.
Napoleon I CL 224
An easier print to tell, to the right the Baxter, deep rich colours with a lot of depth. To the left the fake.
Nelson CL 222
Sky and face always tend to appear greyer in this fake, shown on the left.
Duke of Wellington CL 226
This is interesting, as the faker has actually faked a Le Blond Baxter. At the foot of the original print is a fake Baxter 'signature' applied by a rubber stamp, see 'Baxter applied signature'. This would have been originally applied to the print to pass it off as a Baxter. This Le Blond Baxter with fake signature has then been copied so this is a fake of a fake Baxter! For some unknown reason many of the examples we see have a very red overall colour.
Other prints are also stated to have been faked by this method but have not been seen by ourselves. They are:
Duke of Wellington CL 225
Morning Call CL 360
Copper your Honour CL 350
Christmas Time CL 261
Edmund Burke CL 223
Madeira CL 345
Children outside the gates of a mansion CL 68
2 - Signed 'Baxter Patent Oil Printing'
A curious and quite common batch of fakes that all have one similarity, the way they are all signed. 'Baxter Patent Oil Printing 11 Northampton Square' appears bottom right just under the print. However these do not come from from Baxter's presses and all but two prints were never printed by Baxter. These two, 'Boy Throwing Stones at Ducks' and 'Children Outside the Gates of a Mansion' were originally never signed in this way. There is some conjecture that Baxter may have engraved some of these plates before he died but this is purely speculation, because of this, this batch of prints tend to be known as the Posthumous Baxters. Although they are quite common it is one of the easiest types of fake to get taken in by. Many sellers advertise these, I am sure unwittingly, as genuine Baxters and the easiest defence is to familiarise yourself with them. Although we have seen all but The Trysting Place and Little Gardeners in colour it is usually of poor quality and always coloured by hand.
Boy Throwing Stones at Ducks
This image was one of the two in this section which were actually issued by Baxter, this one as CL 67 in 1836. It was one of his early book illustations and when issued had under the print 'Tales for Boys Baxter Oil Colour Printing Charter House Square' in the centre under the print. At some stage this printing plate was altered and issued with this fake 'signature'. This image has only a minimal amount of hand colouing, for a fully coloured example see under section 3.
The Little Gardeners
An interesting print, as Baxter issued a copy of the 'The Little Gardeners' as CL 358 - This image is similar to be the issued print but is in fact a better likeness to the original painting by Magnus from which Baxter's print is taken.
The Moorish Bride
The signature 'Baxter Patent Oil Printing' appears bottom right as described, very often seen with the signature trimmed and hand coloured, as image. Also see section 4.
3 - Hand coloured Baxter prints.
This section could include every Baxter ever issued, as it is any uncoloured print either printed by Baxter himself or at a later date then subsequently hand coloured like Rev Wesley opposite. We also see some of the other classes of fake in this section e.g. the later monochrome reprints from section 4 are obvious targets for hand colouring.
Frederick Mockler in the late 1890's reprinted a number of Baxter's plates in monochrome and we have seen many of these hand coloured. The Mockler reprints can usually be recognised as he printed on thick cream dimpled paper. When his prints are hand coloured the surface of the print can resemble orange skin, HRH Prince of Wales is Illustrated. Driver also took monochrome impressions from the plates as did other members of the first Baxter Society, also in the late 1890's. Any of these could be hand coloured to be passed off as original Baxter prints.
The best defence here is to see as many Baxter prints as possible to allow you to familiarise yourself, perhaps our gallery could be a good source, in order to know what a genuine copy looks like. Our first copy of Peel took pride of place for many years ago until we saw our second copy, see illustration. At that moment the difference in the tones, the washy, thin look of the colours was so obvious, we wondered why we hadn't noticed it earlier, so we've all been caught out !
Once you are reasonably familiar with genuine Baxter prints and the look of the printing inks this category shouldn't present too much of a problem. Just always remember that any print can be hand coloured. If you need to check, a wet cloth lightly rubbed over a small area of the print will remove some of the colour. The fakers soon became aware of this test and started to mix the water colours with Gum Arabic, a glue, this also gave the prints a slight gloss, similar to BaxterĂs.
Any print could be seen hand coloured but certain one's can be seen on a regular basis and were obviously faked 'on mass', some examples are:
Boy Throwing Stones at Ducks
Although they could be hand coloured monotone pulls taken by Baxter himself and later hand coloured, the majority are later reprints and can be seen with the fake Baxter signature mentioned in section 2 above but when the signature is removed, the only way to tell the fake is the hand colouring. The fake on the left is very common and will be found with varying amounts of the print coloured. A lot of the prints have been hand coloured with added Gum, this giving a slightly shiny but always a very brown look to the print.
Children Outside the Gates of a Mansion
For this print please read as for 'Boy throwing stones at Ducks' above
Me Warm Now
Very common fake, varying quality of hand colouring, some examples have only a minimal amount of light colour, others show good all round colour and are harder to tell. The depth of colour in the genuine Baxter, shown on the left, especially to jacket and bricks usually gives this away.
Large First Impressions
As this is a rare Baxter, even hand coloured copies, which tend to be well done, are still desirable. The washy appearance of the colours tends to be more obvious due to the larger size of this print. All printed copies will show solid blocks of colour, usually very slightly darker at the edges from the pressure of the blocks, this larger print will also show the hand colouring's lack of depth more clearly
4 - Later reprints in monochrome
A number of plates, some printed from by Baxter, were discovered in a pawnbrokers in the 1890's. It is generally assumed that they were pawned by George Baxter Junior, his son, before he emigrated to Australia circa 1880. The plates included the 'posthumous' Baxters like 'Going to Church' as well as 'Me Warm Now'. Impressions where taken from some of these plates by members of the then Baxter Society. I should point out here, that at that stage, they weren't fakes as there was no intent to defraud but since then they have, on many occasions, been passed off as the genuine article.
The Drood Society (Baxter dealers in the 1920's ) also made impressions from some plates, at the time selling them as 'modern' reproductions. Many are impressions in red, perhaps The Little Gardeners, in section 2 was also printed at the same time? Impressions can also be found in brown, grey or black. Common examples are:
Never printed by Baxter but can be found with fake signature as in section 2, hand coloured under section 3 and here, a 'fake' Baxter reprinted in monochrome. Perhaps this plate, secured from the batch of plates from a pawn brokers in the 1890's had possibly passed through a number of fakers hands?
An intriguing print signed in the plate G Baxter but the only, fully colour printed examples, are reputed to have been printed by his son, George Baxter Junior.
Also in this category are reprints from about 100 - 150 plates taken by Frederick Mockler after he purchased all of Baxter's plates from Abraham Le Blond. They were originally issued as reprints, with no intention to deceive. They are always in black and printed on cream heavily dimpled paper.
5 - Baxter 'applied' signature.
This is a rubber stamp applied, more than likely in the 1920's, specifically to deceive. Technically this fake signature can be found on any print, including genuine unsigned Baxters, but mainly you will see this on Le Blond prints and Le Blond Baxters. The rubber stamp usually, if not always, states 'Published Oct 7th 1854 by G Baxter Proprietor and Patentee London'. It is quite often so feint it can hardly be seen and for some reason it is always applied at an angle.
6 - Fake 'printed' signature.
Quite hard to tell without having genuine prints to compare with, then you can see the appearance of the 'signature' is different. It is much more professional than the applied signature, they have made a good attempt to get it correct and atleast use the correct dates. When you look with a magnifying glass you will see that the fake is definitely applied on top of the print rather than being an integral part of it. Luckily we know it as only appling to a couple of Baxter prints namely The Cornfield and See Saw Marjorie Daw.
See Saw Marjorie Daw
The fake signature, on the left, has definitely been applied on top of the print. Apart from this the faker has not captured the bold text of 'G Baxter' as can be seen in the genuine print above. Finally, as the fake is only applied to Le Blond Baxters, the lack of skin tone and more easily distinguishable, the additional shading on the ground, as seen in the illustration, should help your identification.
7 - Fake stamped mounts.
Potentially you could find any genuine Baxter print has been placed on fake stamped mount to increase it's value. Luckily this is not that common and once familiar with the feel and texture of the card of a genuine Baxter mount and the look of his embossed seals it doesn't present too much of a problem.
Max Mitzman's book 'George Baxter and the Baxter Print' illustrates all known examples of embossed and other seals. The fake seals are very good but there are small ways to tell the difference between the real and fake embossing. Luckily, all the other ways to tell a fake mean that you don't need to call on these subtle differences very often.
To the unwary the main problem here is a vast array of prints, Kronheim, Mansell, Le Blond as well as completely unknown prints being on mounts having, what appears to be, a genuine Baxter embossed seal underneath, the print shown is a Kronheim print with fake Baxter seal and no title. A copy of Ball & Martin's 'Illustrated Guide to Baxter Prints' will instantly tell if the print in question is a Baxter or not. More in-depth books will be required to see if it is a Le Blond Baxter. The embossed title block is separate and only a few fake titles were produced so the majority of fake seals come without the title, but lack of title alone doesn't mean it is a fake, it could be a genuine mount that has been trimmed.
To the right you will see another example a Mansell print, this time the type of seal, which states 'Printed in Oil Colours' in two lines in the centre and 'G Baxter 11 Northampton Square' around the outside, was never used by Baxter.
In section 1 we mention that the photographic reproductions can be found on fake embossed mounts. Also commonly seen are two Le Blond needlebox prints on a small card under which is the oval seal. The mounts are of poor quality fibrous card and both these and the photographic reproductions can be found in plain black frames as seen at the head of section 1, so, more than likely from the same hand.
Recently we have come across three prints, one a Le Blond Baxter, Napoleon III, this print of Frederick Prince of Prussia, nothing like the Baxter example, and an unknown print all with the same fake seal. Underneath that, are embossed titles but in a completely different style, so presumably all these were faked by the same person.
8 - Sundry Fakes.
Everything that doesn't fit into the above headings. We do not include hand written titles, however old it looks, proclaiming it to be a genuine George Baxter print, maybe through lack of knowledge rather an attempt to fake.
We also see on regular occasions old frames with black glass on which is printed in gilt George Baxter. The age and appearance might make you think the print is genuine, few are!
Little Red Riding Hood
A Le Blond Baxter is signed at an angle in the folds of the cloth on her basket. It is too high up the print for someone to trim off, as they have done with many Le Blond Baxters so they try and mask the signature by scratching off the signature or applying something over the top as seen in the right hand image. A number of Le Blond Baxter's still have the title and Baxters name under the print. Le Blond only removed Baxter's signature from within the image and not from under it.
Princess Royal, Princess of Prussia
The Illustration is of a Le Blond Baxter, generally speaking these versions lack colour to the cheeks and lips. Here the faker has tried to add his own rouge. Obvious, when studied closely, but quite effective from a distance!
Sir Robert Peel and Nelson
It is said that these prints were reprinted from in the early 1900's. They are in fact quite effective. All would have Le Blonds signature (as well as Baxter's) bottom right of the print. Always be wary if the plate lettering is under the print. Any copies of both prints still joined on the same sheet are, in our experience, usually these reprints. The way we tell the difference is the spotted or stippled rouge to cheeks and most noticeably, the hands. It is possible that these are Le Blond versions of these subjects but we think this is unlikely as this colouring feature is nothing like anything we have seen before, most unlike other Le Blonds.