Fakes and Forgeries
There are many fakes of 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 book about Baxter wasn't published until 1908 and then it only illustrated a few of his prints so during those years it would have been relatively easy to pass fakes off as the genuine article. When the book describes a print as perhaps two people in a woodland setting with no image it makes it easy for the fakers especially when they add the name of an actual Baxter print.
Today we regularly see prints at fairs, in auction houses and on eBay 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. I show many examples BUT PLEASE DO NOT BE PUT OFF and think most Baxter Prints are fakes, they are not. Many I illustrate are different examples of the same fake, like the fake embossed stamps which were most probably all applied by one or two 'fakers'. The same can be said of the applied stamps, apart from a couple of odd examples they all show the date as 'Oct 7 1854' or 'April 16th 1856'.
Your best defence is your copy of 'The Price Guide to Baxter Prints' which illustrates all known prints - if it's not in the book it will be a fake.
If you are looking to see if your one off print is genuine or a fake I suggest looking at section 1, especially the Le Blond needle box prints, section 3, especially 'Going to Church' and 'The Gleaners', section 4, especially 'Me Warm Now' and section 5, especially Nelson, Wellington and Napoleon I as these are most probably the ones most commonly seen. If you are still not sure you can always email me an image to email@example.com always happy to offer advice. All I ask is that if I unfortunately advise you that it is a fake please DO NOT then list it on eBay or similar as genuine!
Lastly, don't believe everything people say, which is a bit ironic as you are reading this. Perhaps I should say, don't automatically believe everything if they are not specialists in BAXTER prints. As you will see most of the fakes look on the face of it quite believeable. I see many auction houses calling these fakes Baxters, let alone dealers and online sellers. A hand written note on the back of an old print 'rare Baxter' means nothing. A print under black glass with gilt 'Baxter Print' also doesn't mean it is anything to do with Baxter.
Sometimes dealers claims are a little more unbeliveable, a small vignette by Baxter from a Robert Mudie book of the 1830's sold as a watercolour by G Baxter. Another genuine Baxter print on a stamped mount was advertised as a proof impression, "so printed before the main run of prints and as such are of superior quality". Both examples of totally false claims, I don't know where they get these ideas from.
I feel sure most people do not intend to deceive but are describing things as they see them, hopefully after reading this you can feel a bit more confident.
1) 'Baxter Prints' that have nothing to do with George Baxter but with an embossed seal
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. 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 to Baxter Prints' (copies usually available) you will not find any of these images. Most of these fakes just have 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.
Embossed on the print and the mount
With title - The Parting Look
With title - Prince Frederick of Prussia
With the title - The Reconciliation
With title - The Bride
Another print also with the title 'The Bride' this also has a fake 'applied' signature, which I will mention again later, giving the date April 16th 1856, which was the date 'The Gardeners Shed' was published
The Holy Family with title and again an applied signature exactly the same as The Bride above, including the date.
Another example of 'The Holy Family'
Two examples of the same fake image, of course it is Napoleon I but still nothing to do with Baxter, the one on the left is on a fake embossed mount with the title and the one to the right with an 'applied' signature. Although you can clearly see how this has been pressed into the paper the date can't be read.
This fake actually has the embossed seal in the corner of the print rather than the mount
So all the prints above have one thing in common, random images, nothing to do with Baxter but all with fake embossed seals. Some just have the Baxter seal but sometimes the forger went the extra mile and also embossed the title. When they did they usually picked a name of an actual Baxter print. If you look at the first eleven illustrated they show great similarities, round top corners etc and I wouldn't be surprised if they all came from the same hand. Usually the seal is a copy of one of the seals Baxter actually used but you can also find a different plainer version that just states G Baxter 11 Northampton Square around the outside and Printed in Oil Colours in the centre as per the two examples on this page.
With title - The Crucifixion
Usually in pairs, any two from one of 20 small needlebox prints from Le Blond's Regal and Fancy sets - at any given time you will find examples of these on eBay, genuine Le Blond Needlebox Prints with fake Baxter seal
As you can see a fake seal can be added to absolutely any print BUT they can easily be spotted by anyone familiar with Baxter's work or has a copy of The Price Guide to Baxter Prints as this book illustrates every known print - so if it's not in the book....
Some images might seem a little more familiar and you can also find a fake seal on prints produced by Baxter's patent by his licensees. Again you can find this seal on an array of prints but these two examples are quite often seen.
I have even seen one of these fake embossed seals on card with a genuine Baxter print, obviously trying to enhance the value of the print but perhaps this is beyond the scope of this article
A genuine Mansell print but instead of an exact copy of one of Baxter's seals this says G Baxter Printed in Oil Colours...
So how could they do this? The answer is quite simple. In the 19th and early 20th century every Limited company would have had its own company seal, just like the one shown and today used extensively as door stops! These seals would be locked away at the company's head office and would be used to 'seal' and sign certain official documents. As you can imagine the equipment would have been freely available to purchase and the making of a new set of embossing seals would have been just as simple to obtain, perhaps the makers would not have known what use they would have been put to, or would they?
I obtained this one from someone who thought it was Baxter's own embossing press. Although I have never seen such a machine, Baxter's embossing presses would have been a lot more substainial. The larger the
area of embossing, like the edge of Le Blonds ovals, the more powerful the machine required, I have even seen some described as steam powered. In the catalogue of Baxter's 1860 auction of his plant and equipment you can find "Two capital embossing presses fitted on a stand".
My fakers embossing press which must have produced a number of the examples on this page. To the left with card inserted and below what the metal die cut seals that fitted into the press looked like
My seal is now well worn and I can now only get an impression in very soft blotting paper but as limited pressure could be obtained with this type of press it explains why the card used was often soft, especially noticeable on the photographically reproduced items we talk about later.
The fake seal on the left is obviously not so finely produced, although now quite worn, an impression in soft blotting paper gives a good example of ones done at the time. Baxter used a number of seals which were all slightly different. In this signature type seal, to me the 'easy spot' is the fact that on the fake in the word 'Baxter' there is no little loop at the end of the 'r' or at the top of the 'B' both being clear and well defined in the quality genuine seal
To the left the fake embossed seal and to the right a genuine example, notice the clearly defined loop at the end of the 'r' in the genuine Baxter
This signature type seal is perhaps most commonly seen on the fakes seen above but you come across fakes of another of Baxter's seals. These are quite often seen on the photographic fakes talked about later. Again the small amount of pressure that can be excerted on the small fakers embossing press meant that quite often they would use softer, quite fibrous card and still the impressions made weren't as defined as the genuine one. In the example below the buckle at the end of the outer belt is hardly distinguishable in the fake example.
To the left the fake embossed seal and to the right a genuine example, note the ill defined buckle
Fake 'Licensee' stamp
Perhaps when they thought they couldn't pass them off as Baxter prints the fakers thought they would try and pass them off as Baxter Licensees by adding an embossed stamp which read 'Printed in Oil Colours by G Baxter Licensee'. No one ever used this stamp and if they did use anything similar they would have added their own name i.e. Bradshaw & Blacklock
2) 'Baxter Prints' that have nothing to do with George Baxter but with an applied signature
Everything said above also applies to this batch of prints but instead of an embossed seal placed on card under the print basically a rubber stamp is applied to the actual print rather than engraved in the actual body of the print.
Again the images can be a random, non Baxter, print but as before you can also find these stamps on licensee prints. In fact literally thousands of Le Blond prints had this fake siganture applied in the early 1900's trying to pass them off as genuine Baxter prints. The same warning as above applies, just look in The Price Guide to Baxter prints, if the image isn't there then it is a fake. Unfortunately occasionally you will find Le Blond Baxter prints i.e. Le Blond printings from Baxter plates with this stamp which makes it a lot harder to spot but many of the prints are stamped with the date Oct 7th 1854, the date the 'Belle of the Village' was published. In the section above talking about embossed mounts a couple of prints also had an applied signature and in both instances had a stamp dated April 16th 1856, which was the date 'The Gardeners Shed' was published. One give away is that the stamp is quite often set at an angle which although Baxter occasionally did this it was not normal.
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 along the bottom
A Bradshaw & Blacklock print "Tender Tale' with fake rubber stamp bottom left saying 'Baxter Patent' trying to pass it off as a genuine Baxter
Baxter's Dover Coast with an applied stamp saying Sept 1st 1853 or 1858. Baxter never signed this print so ironically this print most probably is a genuine Baxter but the faker didn't realise or thought they would help to confirm it - if it does say Sept 1st 1853 that would be the day that 'The Morning Call' and also Crystal Palace New York' were published
I can't even remember what this print was but with a rubber stamp that I have only seen once saying simply 'By G Baxter'
Prayer - Baxter produced this print, a version was also printed by licensee W Dickes as well as many others printers all after the well known painting by Reynolds. This print, which is nothing to do with Baxter, has an applied signature bottom right 'Published April 16th 1856 by George Baxter, Proprietor and Patentee, 11 and 12 Northampton square, London' the same date, well in fact exactly the same rubber stamp as used on 'The Bride' and 'The Holy Family' mentioned in the embossed seal section above, again obviously all from the same faker.
3) 'Posthumous Baxters' with fake signature printed from the Steel Plate
The next batch 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. 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 new owners name but if that description was then trimmed off... Unless these people produced thousands of copies I feel these fakes must have also been printed from the plates before or after they were found in the pawn shop.
What makes this batch of fakes different 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 it is universally felt that the address has been added later.
You can find these productions printed in red, in brown, crudely hand coloured and also well hand coloured 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 with the signature bottom right
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
4) 'Baxters' with fake signature printed from the Steel Plate
This section gets a 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, but printed from Baxter's original steel plates. The first ones also come from the same batch as described above and known as Posthumous Baxter with the same fake Baxter signature as above.
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's 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
Lady Chapel Warick, originally a plate from Baxter's Cabinet of Paintings, this fake is printed in brown and hand coloured. Initially hard to see the difference as the colouring is very similar to the original but the same fake signature bottom right gives it away so different than the original text found under a genuine example - very hard to spot when the signature is trimmed
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
5) Photographic fakes
This a commonly seen group. They are literally photographs of Baxter prints that were then applied to some cheap textured card and a fake embossed seal added. You can read more about the fake embossed seal above and why they most probably used quite soft card. 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. The regularly seen examples are Nelson, Napoleon I, Duke of Wellington and Prince Albert in Husaars uniform.
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
Others seen are Morning Call and Copper your Honour, shown below. Although the later is 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
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 too 'obvious' and jumps out at you. As per the detail of Nelson above two close ups of the fake top left with its overall grid pattern and the genuine Baxter which shows the subtle shading and build up of detail gained with the engravers tool on the steel plate
6) Hand coloured Baxter Prints
Hand colouring is 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 one offs and might have just been an amateur artist's hand rather than an out and out attempt to defraud, although the May Queen set, seen below was very much an intended fake, many examples being seen.
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 when
the light is reflecting on the image. To the right 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 even though the genuine print was never issued on any form of mount.
This is an interested example, Gems of the Great Exhibition No 3. The centre drapery and the statue bases are printed and as these are quite prominent features perhaps you wouldn't normally look that much closer, just looks like a slightly faded example.
In fact the blues, yellows and reds to the background have all been hand coloured and can be clearly seen on close inspection. The give away is the lack of stripes to the top canopy and the lack of the word 'Russia' on the sign centre left which is normally printed from the red colour block rather than engraved on to the steel plate.
7) More specialised / one off fakes
The applied signature that we mentioned above of course can also be applied to any print but when it is applied to a Le Blond Baxter (one could even be applied to an unsigned genuine Baxter) it makes it very confusing. 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 normally always the same, Oct 7 1854. It is the Le Blond Baxters that can cause a problem here, a design Baxter produced and unless you know the differences between the Le Blond and Baxter printings it can confuse. This example is on The Saviour Blessing Bread and is particularly 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.
A very specific applied signature that I have only found once on a copy of See Saw Margery Daw 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 see differences between Baxter and Le blond Printings). 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 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. For my accurate and detailed differences please see HERE. Someone in this Le Blond Baxter example of the Princess of Prussia has rather cleverly added colour to the lips and cheeks 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.
Another specific fake only seen on Little Red Riding Hood. In the 1920's thousands of Le Blond Baxter's had their 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.
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 or painted over.
As you can see Sir Robert Peel and Nelson were 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 regularly 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 Patentee. 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 upon Thames, confusingly the same area of London where Le Blond & Co operated from in their latter years.
I 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's signature on this plate why then squeeze his own signature into a very limited space. It is also engraved in such a manner that it is virtually illegible compared to his normally clear bold 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 applied by 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's 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 doing so in an attempt to deceive BUT why add Le Blond's signature? The only thing we can think of 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.
I mentioned at the beginning that I have been taken in only 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.
When it arrived, 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 but on opening up the frame
it was suddenly obvious, a greetings card published 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 covers colour images of Baxter prints from magazines over the last 80+ years.
An example of that are two prints that were on eBay for some time, initially they look very good bright copies, in fact perhaps too bright. On closer inspection you could see they look printed by a modern printing method. Could they be pages 166 and 167 from The Price Guide to Baxter Prints?