Fakes and Forgeries
There are many fakes or Baxter prints circulating today, most were produced in the first couple of decades of the 20th century when Baxter collecting reached a bit of a frenzy. The first comprehensive Baxter book wasn't published until 1908 and then it only had minimal prints illustrated so during those years it would have been relatively easy to pass fakes off as the genuine article and in fact any old print off as a Baxter.
Today we regularly see on dealers stalls at fairs, in auction houses and on EBay these prints being described as Baxter Prints when they are not BUT don't worry with a little care you won't get caught too easily. Even I got caught very recently buying on EBay but more of that later...
This article is meant to be a pretty comprehensive study of the fakes produced over the years. If you are looking to see if your one off print is genuine or a fake all we can suggest is to look at the Le blond needlebox prints on fake mounts, Posthumous Baxter and photographic fakes sections which are the ones most commonly seen.
Your first defence against being sold a fake is the publication 'Price guide to Baxter Prints' don't be put off by the title the values are near useless but it does illustrate every known Baxter (as at 1974) so if it is not in the book, 99.9% sure it will be a fake or of course a seller just not knowing what he is talking about. I feel sure dealers do not intend to deceive but when they see an old label on the back stating 'genuine Baxter' it is not surprising they think that it is - you need to know better. I have split this guide in two main headings, the first are prints that are nothing to do with Baxter BUT appear to be so. The second category are a bit harder to tell, prints that Baxter did publish and have been faked. So on to the first category of fake, with your price guide in hand:
'Baxter Prints' that have nothing to do with George Baxter
There are always going to be old colour prints that someone has written on the back 'rare Baxter Print', I am not calling those fakes just a bad description, it is down to you to check the price guide but here I want to illustrate designs that Baxter never produced but have a fake Baxter embossed seal making everyone feel they are genuine. If you check your Price Guide you will not find any of these images. Most of these fakes just has the seal but some, even more convincingly also have a 'correct' Baxter title. In this category you literally could find hundreds of different examples, here are some we have put together over the years, many with the compliments of EBay.
With embossed seal
With title - Prince Frederick of Prussia
There is always an example of these at any given time on EBay, genuine Le Blond Needle Box Prints with fake Baxter seal
A genuine Mansell print but instead of a copy of one of Baxter's seal this seal is completely different
With title - The Bride
With title - The Parting Look
With title - The Holy Family
This time the embossed seal is in the corner of the print rather than the mount
With title another completely different image called The Bride
With title - The Crucifixion
No title? but called The Belle of the Village
Even on the day I finish writing this article one I have never seen before turns up on EBay. No title but embossing to the over mount and also the corner of the print. Sold very quickly, do they know what the purchased? Hopefully they do
The next batch also have nothing to do with Baxter but instead of an embossed seal there is an
Described as 'The Queen' - applied wording in black - Printed in Oil Colours by George Baxter patentee...
This is a very common fake and was applied to hundreds of thousands of Le Blond and Le Blond Baxter prints in the early 1900's to pass them off as genuine Baxters. It is always applied at an angle and the date is always the same Oct 7 1854 - the date the Belle of the Village was published.
Kronheim print with unusual applied G Baxter signature
Fake signature printed from the Steel Plate
Under the same general heading we include the next batch, these form part of a group of prints called Posthumous Baxters which please click on the link to see fuller details. They MIGHT (or might not have) anything to do with Baxter, they might have been plates designed but unused by Baxter but looking at the style and images I feel this is unlikely but they all seem to have a connection to his son George Baxter Junior. They were discovered in a Pawn Shop in Birmingham in the 1890's. Some were reproduced by the then members of the Baxter Society, these weren't fakes as they were clearly labelled, Posthumous Plate and with the owners name but if that description was then trimmed off... Unless they produced thousands of copies I feel these fakes must have been printed from the plates before or after they were found in the pawn shop.
What sets this batch aside is that they are all signed in the same way, engraved under the image on the actual steel plate: 'Baxter's Patent Oil Printing 11 Northampton Square'. The address and style is the same as used by Baxter circa 1846 - 1850 mainly for his pocket book illustrations but I feel the address has been added later.
You can find this productions printed in red, in brown, crudely hand coloured and also well hand colour with a coating of gum arabic to replicate Baxter's glaze
The Trysting Place
Going to Church - hand coloured with Gum Arabic
The Moorish Bride printed from the steel plate in red
The Gleaners with basic hand colouring
Again but now printed in brown with hand colouring and Gum Arabic gloss
The connection between them all - the signature
The Little Gardeners, Baxter did produce a print of this subject but this fake is a lot larger, circular and in reverse
The Lake Scene, printed in red and unusually signed, as per the others, but in the body of the print bottom right. In the 1920's it was discovered that the original painting was by George Baxter Jr who also printed this in colour adding to the evidence that the signatures were added later
Actual Baxter prints that have been faked
This section gets little more involved and slightly harder to spot as all these prints have, at some time, been printed by Baxter but at a later date faked, a number from Baxter original steel plates. The first ones also come from the same batch as described above and known as Posthumous Baxters. Lady Chapel Warwick should also be included here but we currently do not have a copy of that fake, can you help with that?
Boys throwing stones at ducks originally printed for Tales for Boys published by Darton & Son circa 1835, very possibly, they kept the steel plates and possibly where they were re-discovered many years later.
The original wording was removed from the plate and the Posthumous Baxter signature "Baxter Patent Oil Printing 11 Northampton Square" added. Very regularly seen in various states of basic hand colouring to fully finished with a gum arabic gloss final layer. When compared to Baxter original on the right, which is quite a rare print, the difference is obvious
Girls outside the gates of a mansion originally published by Darton & Son circa 1835, for other details see above. Harder to differentiate but the Baxter original on the right is a lot more refined with softer and more varied colours
The next significant group are what we call photographic forgeries. Literally these are photographs of Baxter Prints that were then added to some cheap textured card and a fake embossed seal added. They frequently come in plain black frames, the same that can be seen on many of the Le Blond Needlebox prints with fake embossing mentioned above so more than likely produced by the same faker
Me Warm Now - a very common fake there are possibly even more fake copies than genuine ones. As with others you can find ones with very basic hand colouring and some very well hand coloured examples that I have to compare with a known genuine copy to make a decision. The only 100% way to tell is by looking at the red flecks in the smoke above the fire, the fakers never seemed to have got around to going into that much detail. The genuine copy is in the centre but some fakes can look just as good
The fake card is usually a good give away, textured, and fibrous (as against Baxter's smooth quality card) and usually of an orangery hue
The most commonly seen ones are as above: Napoleon I, HRH Prince Albert, Nelson and Duke of Wellington but I also include photo's below of others seen, Morning Call and Copper your Honour. Although these are quite faded you can clearly see the very flat overall appearance. Etheridge's, Concise Guide of 1929 states Edmund Burke and Christmas Time have also been similarly faked
Nelson - fake to the left with the original to the right. As with all these fakes they have a very flat appearance as compared to the Baxter and once you have learnt to spot the differences they can be recognised even without close examination.
If you get the opportunity to look at any of these fakes under a strong magnifying glass you will see a standard 'grid' pattern across the whole print as in the image top right as against the irregular spaced dots of Baxter's stipple engraving from the original steel plate in the lower image
Napoleon I fake to the left genuine print to the right, for details see Nelson above
Hand coloured fakes are most probably the hardest to discuss as literally any black and white 'pull' from one of Baxter plates, a pull that might have even been taken by Baxter himself and not fully coloured at the time can be later hand coloured. Apart from the mass hand colouring that can be found on the Posthumous plates only a few are regularly seen, most are ones off's and might have just been an amateur artists hand rather than an out and out attempt to defraud
HRH Prince Albert - top centre is the fake and the genuine Baxter to the right. To me the blue riband on the fake always looks a too 'obvious' and jumps out at you. As per the detail of Nelson above two close ups of the fake top left and the genuine Baxter which shows the subtle shading and build up of detail gained with the engravers tool on the steel plate
Some of the 'one offs' seen over the years, the Reconciliation is actually part printed and part hand coloured
The May Queen Set - another example of a commonly seen fake and a rarely seen genuine Baxter
Two hand coloured fakes worthy of mention - to the left a nicely produced HRH Prince of Wales, under glass it could easily pass as a genuine print. This is a Mockler print taken from Baxter plates circa 1896 and later hand coloured. The give away is that Mockler printed onto thick heavy duty cartridge paper that had a 'orange peel' effect to the paper which can be seen where the light is reflecting in the image
Above is a pull from from Baxter's Welsh Harper, crudely hand coloured but of course there is nothing stopping the faker adding a fake seal
The applied signature that we mentioned in the first section of course can also be applied to prints that Baxter actually produced. In the 1920's this standard rubber stamp was applied to thousands of Le Blond and Le Blond Baxters It is always at an angle and the date is always the same Oct 7 1854. It is the Le Blond Baxter's that can cause a problem here, a design Baxter produced and unless you know the difference between the Le Blond and Baxter printings can confuse. This example is on The Savior Blessing Bread and is particular hard to differentiate between the printings but if you remember that Baxter only produced the Belle of The Village on this date you shouldn't get caught
This is a very specific applied signature only found on See Saw Margery Daw. Rarely seen but it is very well done. It is applied to Le Blond Baxter versions of the print (which can be identified by the shading on the ground used to cover up where Baxter's signature was removed from the plate by Le Blond). A fake Baxter signature was then added again at a later date, the date is correct and if the 'G Baxter' had been faked in a bold font it would have been even harder to identify.
Another specific fake only seen on Little Red Riding Hood. In the 1920's thousands of Le Blond Baxter's had there signatures trimmed off to pass them off as genuine Baxters. So many that finding a signed Le Blond Baxter example of some prints is in fact quite a rarity. A couple of examples were signed by Le Blond quite high up, including this print so impossible to trim with out losing too much of the print
Another specific and hopefully rarely seen fake. Courtney Lewis always differentiated between the Le Blond and the Baxter printings by saying (rather generally in our opinion) lack of colour to lips, cheeks and eyes. Someone in this Le Blond Baxter example of the Princess of Prussia has rather cleverly added the colour to try and pass it off as a genuine Baxter copy. We now know that the jewels in the necklace and earrings of Le Blond Baxter copies are coloured and uncoloured in Baxter confirming this rouge is a clever fake
What is quite commonly seen are prints that still have the plate lettering underneath. This was never meant to be left intact so Le Blond never removed the wording stating printed by Baxter. When copies including the wording are found the Le Blond signature, as seen on the left confirms it is a Le Blond Baxter but it is so easy for a faker to erase the signature as can be seen on the right
As you can see Sir Robert Peel and Nelson where printed from the same printing plate. Nelson can be found above as a photographic fake and the pair can be found in various states of hand colouring. We mention these here as these prints, very often with the text below still intact are seen reglarly on EBay and at auction houses. The images to the left are different from the Baxter examples, the background to Nelson is more brown (or grey in some examples) as against sky blue in Baxter and Peel's trousers are beige against the same black as his jacket in the Baxter version.
For many years most people have assumed these prints are Le Blond Baxter versions as they are signed Le Blond & Co LA Elliot Boston US along with Baxter Patantee. Etheridge in the 1920's was the only person to mention that these prints had been reproduced in those early years by someone in Kingston up Thames, confusingly the same area of London where Le Blond ending up printing.
We at GB.com do not feel these are Le Blond Baxters based on the fact that the first thing that Le Blond did when he reprinted from Baxter's plates was remove Baxter's signature. Secondly IF Le Blond decided not to remove Baxter signature on this plate why then squeeze his own signature into a very limited space and also engraved in such a manner it is virtually illegible compared to his normally clear signature
Lastly although they are good (but not that good) impressions the treatment of colouring to hands and cheeks is totally unlike anything that Le Blond would have done. The colour to the cheeks is done from a separate stippled block as in the images above. We feel these were produced by a competent printer that had managed to get hold of Baxter plates and blocks. Kronheim reproduced a few prints by the Baxter process around this time but that doesn't explain about the signatures and we feel that whoever printed these was do doing so in an attempt to deceive BUT why add Le Blond's signature? The only thing we can think off is the fact that they knew their printings were not good enough to be passed off as Baxter BUT if they added the Le Blond signature they were they good enough to be passed off as the 'inferior' Le Blond Baxter versions. We only sell these as interesting fakes rather than Le Blond Baxters
In conclusion, I mentioned right at the beginning that even I had been taken in very recently. I regularly look at EBay and sometimes even buy from there and on one such visit noticed amongst the normal listings of 2nd and 3rd rate Le Blond ovals a particularly fine copy of Le Blond's
Wedding Day a print that I find very hard to get in good condition.
On arrival and now having the chance for a closer examination it didn't look right, the image to the left says it all, initially it looked like a Chromolithographic version
On opening up the frame it was suddenly obvious, a greetings card published as such by a well known and still in existence art gallery 20-25 years ago. When produced it was never meant to deceive but framed up....To some it might have been the best condition Le Blond Oval they had in their collection without realising exactly what it is was.
We have many example of greetings cards of Baxter prints published by card manufacturers, museums and art galleries over the last 30-40 years. If someone wanted to deceive it wouldn't take much. The same category also cover colour images of Baxter prints from magazines over the last 80+ years. It is down to us as collectors to be extra vigilant.