Regularly appearing on the tat-bazaar that is eBay are faked lighters, cigarette cases, Vesta match cases and stamp holders bearing poorly soldered on ARP buttons and badges. A certain person is producing these items (and many, many others featuring army, air force and navy motifs) on a weekly basis and selling them on eBay. They are so clearly recent fakes that one would think no one would be taken in by them. Alas, they regularly sell. They are all bullsh*t of the highest order.
Doing the rounds again is the Shelter Marshal Hammersmith armband. Previous incarnations of this particular armband saw it having been liberally sprinkled with tea in a poor attempt to age the armband. Now we have a pristine example with a number stamp added (in the hope that adds some level of provenance). The armband also appears with a red cross poorly sewn to the front as well (a well-known auction house in the West Country, known for being rather lax in apportioning provenance, has had this particular armband for sale a few times...). I believe these were originally sold as repros by Andrew Butler Insignia.
Below are two fake Air Raid Shelter signs currently up on eBay. The seller has dozens of shedmade wooden signs from all sorts of areas across Europe (British and German). He adds spurious details on provenance - usually about salvaging or rescuing the signage from a factory in such-and-such a year - all utter bollocks. I'm amazed anyone would fall for such blatant fakes but it appears he's regularly selling this garbage.
This Fire Guard Zuckerman helmet with "Boots" hand-painted emblem sold on eBay for £142 (+£6 P&P). I'm never too sure when I see these company-marked helmets like this. A number have appeared over the past year or so on eBay and most have been called out as outright fakes (for example, London Underground ARP Shelter badges attached to Zuckerman helmets). I'm currently on the fence about this one. The boot lace is obviously not original but the liner is.
UPDATE: I was contacted via email regarding the Boots logo. The blue ovoid/lozenge background was not used by the company until the 1960s. It was also originally a black background before becoming blue in the 1980s. Consequently, this helmet is a fake.
More info on Boots branding/logo
For the love of Mary, will people please stop buying the fake ARP Shelter keys on eBay. A few weeks ago a key went for the eye-watering amount of £143. And that key was almost certainly knocked up in a shed. Since then any old key (and this is clearly an old wardrobe key) has had ARP SHELTER (poorly) stamped onto it. They are fake!
Regularly appearing on eBay are mementos featuring German incendiary bomb fins. These "souvenirs" of various city blitzes usually all have a find plonked onto a block of wood and a made up label added for that extra level of "authenticity". From Coventry Cathedral to Liverpool Docks, the London Blitz to Southampton fire-bombing, fraudsters have been faking these items for years. The sad fact is that collectors new to the hobby fall victim to the fakes. It may well be a real incendiary fin (but again these are now reproduced - I've seen them for sale at £30 a pop at militaria fairs) but the provenance is completely made up. The one below isn't even German and claimed to be a captured French example dropped in Reigate... They often come from the very same sellers who always seem to have them available. The below sold on eBay in June 2020, fools and their money...
A large number of fake and reproduction items are up at auction at East Bristol Auctions on 22 May 2020. The description of most of the fake ARP badges says "unknown origin" and for the buyer to ensure they know what they are buying. A large number of lots are from the same militaria forger found on eBay. Included is another fake London Underground Zuckerman as well as a Straits Settlements ARP badge added to a Zuckerman. There is also a pair of faked splinter googles. There'sa fake GPO Warden helmet and a stencilled LCC Ambulance helmet. There is also a fake Women's Home Defence enamel and embroidered badge.
Amongst the other lots are other items regularly offered for sale on eBay by shysters - fake First World War airplane fabric, WW1 tank metal face masks and WW2 linen flags. Caveat emptor...
Here are the four common ARP plaques or wall signs that are regularly sold as originals. These light weight cast aluminium signs have been doing the rounds for many years now. One is particularly egregious having two crowns on it and another replicates the use of "ARP" twice. Some have been painted, some sanded and shined. A few even have spurious marks on the back in an attempt to prove originality. There are even a few examples in brass rather than aluminium. As far as I can tell there are no original photos showing any of these designs being used during the war. They often appear on eBay (from the same sellers...there's a clue to authenticity...) and have filtered through to auction houses and regularly crop up on militaria websites. Prices vary but usually they sell in mid twenties but have been known to go for a lot more.
It seems I am spending an inordinate amount of time at the moment detailing fake WW2 ARP items on this blog. We have had a whole slew of fake ARP badges and faked helmets recently appearing on eBay. The seller of both the fake badges and helmets also has fake splinter googles for sale every six weeks or so.
The fake splinter googles are always the same and never have the original padding around the nose and forehead found on originals or the original adjustable head strap. There appears to be a few original styles with some articulated at the centre. Clearly the faker cannot manage to copy that but is listing these regularly. He's also using his acid bath to age the goggles. Sadly, they are always selling for over £40.
I should add that these googles are often marketed as being for RAF use. It appears a single reference in a book has led to this being taken as gospel. The truth is that they were not ever used by the RAF in WW2.
A few weeks ago I received an email from a collector asking about a recent purchase he had made. The item - a Zuckerman helmet with London Underground Public Shelter badge - was bought on eBay from a notorious faker of militaria and I informed the buyer he had been conned. The buyer subsequently found the badge had been glued on with modern adhesive and bent to fit on the helmet. The helmet had also been slightly dented to accommodate the badge. The fake blue residue was an attempt at enamelling but was just blue paint. Thankfully, the seller complained to eBay and managed to get their money back (over £150). The seller continues to hawk fake items and con collectors alas.
A new addition to list of fake enamel ARP lapel badges. Usually seller has listed this. Has all the same hallmarks of the fakes: acid staining for age, same rear, same old pin and clasp. Another fake to watch out for.
See a complete list of the known fake ARP badges on the market.
Here's another of the fake ARP badges that gets listed on eBay every couple of months or so. This one doesn't even have the fake pin and clasp. It does have the acid staining to 'age' the badge and piss-poor enamelling. I now know what this is based on. It's a factory Fire Watcher badge. The fraudster has copied the design but added Rolls Royce and whatever R & R means is anyone's guess.
See a list of the current examples of fake ARP badges.
Yet another fake variation of the Hong Kong ARP badge. This time using their copious supply of red and blue enamel we have this monstrosity. Always with the same fake features - acid dipping to age, crappy enamelling, the exact same pin fitting to rear.
For more information see this page on ARP badges that lists all the currently known examples.
UPDATE: the fake badge sold for £279. I'm utterly speechless...
Faked WW2 ARP helmets on eBay appears to be becoming a regular issue these days. One particular area the fraudsters are regularly attempting to exploit is the combination of ARP services (Warden, First Aid Party etc) and the various railway companies that existed during the second world war (LMS, GWR, LNER etc).
We recently had a Zuckerman helmet with a made up badge for the London Underground and the below is another fantasy piece. The fraudsters take a genuine WW2-dated helmet, often with original markings and then slap a railway badge onto the helmet. There's a reason there's no original photographic evidence of these helmets ever appearing and that is they were never made in the war.
Adding a badge, especially screwing it into a helmet makes absolutely no sense. First, you now have screw ends and bolts that can pierce your skull. Secondly, it comprises the integrity of the helmet reduces its efficiency. These fakes are complete and utter b*llocks but buyers continue to fork out outrageous sums for them.
Another fake ARP badge to add to the growing list of badges being sold as original on eBay. Featuring all the classic hallmarks of the fakes: acid staining, poor casting, identical pin and clasp. Previously sold by the same seller a few months ago. An absolute rip off.
Yet more fake ARP enamel badges on eBay (see these links for more information - fakes and more fakes and yet more fakes). This time we have a reproduction / fake of a Straits Settlements ARP badge. It features all the common traits of these fake ARP badges:
1) Acid dipped to give the verdigris look,
2) Same poor quality pic fitting,
3) Knocked about front to give the appearance of age.
Absolute garbage but the seller on eBay keeps offering this and several other fakes on a regular basis. If you did by mistake buy this os a similar badge get back onto eBay and send the badge back. It is not a WW2 badge.
The simple answer appears to be yes. Over the past year a large number of fake ARP and home front badges have reached the market that have distinctly modern manufacturing processes on them. More fakes are being detected every week. The key pointers are:
1) verdigris on the back (which is probably from dipping the badge in acid of some sort),
2) all with pin attachment (most wartime badges, esp. ARP ones are lapel fitting),
3) no maker's mark (this is one of the key giveaways of being a fake),
4) a stippling to the rear where originals are often smooth and well finished,
5) modern letter fonts (letters are machine cut using modern day fonts).
These fake ARP badges often have dings and marks to the front surface in an attempt to age the badges.
The fake ARP badge fronts appear to be well made (the enamel is not up to the wartime standards though) but the backs all appear very similar. It's peculiar that if someone is going to the effort of faking industrial ARP badges then omitting to cast the rear correctly is somewhat odd. It is probably down to the reproducing manner being unable to copy makers' marks. The flip of this is that the badges are readily selling online and at auction houses. Most of the badges are selling for over £100 to £150.
I have a collection of a few hundred WW2 Home Front badges and not a single one has this verdigris on the reverse. Other collectors have also noted that their badges are also without this colouration.
A small sample of the fake ARP badges being reproduced are:
1 - A winged AVRO ARP badge. There is a triangular badge that is genuine (and without a maker mark) but the winged AVRO ARP badges all have the verdigris and poor pin manufacture. They are without maker's mark. Badges have sold on eBay fro between £100 and £150 and the badge has also been sold at an auction house.
2 - Women's Home Defence shield. All original badges have the maker "Collins London" on rear and a sturdy brass pin. The fakes omit the maker mark and have a poor pin assembly. They also carry the verdigris. Selling on eBay for over £50.
3 - Austin Motor Works red ARP Controller badge. The original badge has a half-moon lapel fitting and maker's mark. The fakes all have a pin and no maker mark with verdigris to back (and sometime front). Several copies of this badge suddenly appeared on eBay in the last six months (date March 2020). Copies selling for over £100 on eBay.
4 - Rolls Royce R&R ARP badge. More of the same here with the back identical to other forgeries. One sold on eBay on 30 December 2019 for £260. Another almost identical badge was listed for sale on eBay on 15 March 2020.
5. Coventry ARP First Aid. Same pin, stippling and verdigris as the others.
6. Handley Page Ltd ARP Badge. Same condition as others.
- Auxiliary Home Guard blue and red shields. These are poor fakes as the the front enamelling is much poorer than the examples above. The poor example on eBay was pulled after the seller was inundated with messages about the originality of the badge.
- London Housewives Service. This circular badge is also now being faked. It is based on an original from a different area.
- WW2 Free Czechoslovak Field Ambulance England badge. Another verdigris fake that omits the maker of Miller found on all the originals. This fake also has the completely wrong style of pin that is found on originals. Below an original on the left and a fake on the right.
A spate of reproduction AVRO ARP insignia has recently been placed on eBay. The seller uses several accounts to sell similar items (always a good clue to fake items being fobbed off). There are no known photos of any AVRO ARP badge. It appears these reproductions copy some elements of this badge but they do not follow the font exactly (another good clue to them being fake).
Send me items to blog about via my contact page