“Knowledge is power” -Sir Frances Bacon
There has been much discussion lately about fakes and other NOS lanterns that show up from time to time. The new collector is foaming at the bit, trying to decide whether to pull the trigger on that shiny new-old-stock Gold Bond 200A that just popped up on Ebay with a “low” buy it now price. He knows that it should be more than that but he had better act quick or it will get nabbed out from under him. There he sits giggling when he gets it. It was the most he has ever paid for a lantern, but gee whiz; it’s a Gold Bond! It is worth it and he could sell it for more if he needed to. Panic sets in when he sports his new acquisition online and its authenticity is questioned. Did he just make a large and expensive mistake?
With the availability of reproduction parts, decals, replating and reporcelainizing, making fakes has become easy. Fakes have a market because many buyers simply don’t know what’s real and what’s a farce as nobody has educated them yet. They don’t know where to look or who to ask for details. We as collectors are passionate about it so that the history of the product line doesn’t get muddy or de-value what we have in our collections. We will never be able to stop people from making counterfeit products, the best we can do is learn what is real and recognize the features to look for to stay safe.
Now, I know the following information is going to make the hair stand up on some people’s necks. The feeling is that this information will make fakes easier to manufacture. This cannot really happen unless they have components of the same months/years/manufacture as the real ones. Finding common founts with the same dates as these rarer founts are difficult to do, probably the same difficulty as finding the real ones, so I see no real risk publishing this info. What it does is educate people to what to look for and the fraud products will not have a market as more people will pass over them, knowing they are not real. Why go to the pain of making something when you can’t reasonably sell it for your efforts, so here we go:
The Gold Bond Series
Gold Bond only came out in 200As, 228Fs, 228Hs and the 425E, 413G stoves. They never made coolers, heaters or any other model lanterns or stoves in the Gold Bond scheme. The 200A came out in 11/71, 5/72 and 2/73. The 228F came out in 1/72, 6/72. The 228H came out in 5/73, 12/73, 2/74. The 413G came out in 4/72, 10/73, 2/74. The 425E came out in 5/72 and 2/73. They all came in a plain box, no pictures with black printing. Get familiar with the mustard yellow color if you intend to search for one of these. Many fakes don’t even come close to the real Gold Bond color.
It’s Christmas time!
The earliest X-mas lanterns that I’ve found is the model 200 from 1/51. These have brass painted founts with nickel plated brass base rests. The 200A debuted also in 4/51 with a painted steel fount and a steel base rest that has been protected with a matte clear, anti-corrosive finish. The fount has a large stamping on the side of the fount. There is no decal on the fount. Decals debuted in 9/51 with a plain red logo without a border. It is located on the bottom edge of the fount, right above the lip. These continued until 12/51. I have seen some examples of X-Mas lanterns from 12/51 with a black band or a black burner frame which are probably one of the last to be made. The burner frames are the earlier type in which the ears of the bail sockets do not engage the ventilator and the bottom is perforated. Since the ventilators didn’t engage the ears of the bail sockets, the holes are smaller where the bail pokes through. The porcelain coating is not really a solid color, rather it is finely speckled.
The black bands are prevalent from 2/52 to 4/53. They have a steel base rest painted black along with the burner frame. The burner frame is still the short ear version as found in the X-mas lanterns but the later versions deleted the perforations in the base plate. The burner frame is painted except for the air tube. They have a red decal with a yellow border located at the bottom rim of the fount. The fount has a large stamping on the opposite side. The vents are the same as the X-mas lanterns with the small holes and the speckled finish. The black bands stopped in 5/53 in which the burner frame and base rest (still steel) have a matte clear anti-corrosive finish. The fount is the same as the black bands with the fount stamp and decal.
Burgundy. Would you like some cheese with it?
The burgundys came out in 9/61 and ended mid 1962. The end date is difficult as the color change back to red was gradual and was fully completed by 8/62. You can tell the difference in color using the decal as a reference for the original red color. They are typically not faked as they are plentiful.
A word about dates. The dates mentioned above in the X-mas, Black Band and Burgundy lanterns are the most prevalent dates fount. The cutoff has been defined when lanterns with different features are found in abundance either before or after the dates mentioned. It has been discussed that examples have been found ±3ish months outside of these dates but these examples are very limited. These founts or base plates may have been leftovers or may have just sat in the bottom of the supply barrel until they were finally painted or used. This cannot be easily determined but they exist nonetheless. If you come across one of these outliers, give it special attention and inspect much closer. This does not apply to the Gold Bond series. Again, this does not apply to the Gold Bond series.
The most sinister. The mint, new old stock
These are the most difficult to spot. These could be any lamp, lantern, stove or item. What you have to look for is more difficult as you are looking to recognize finishes, materials, packaging and other characteristics that the products had when the left the factory. You have to know what box style, what paperwork, what accessories typically came with the product you’re looking at.
Polish and buff – be wary of anything polished or buffed to a brilliant shine. The only thing that ever came from the factory with a brilliant shine is anything that was nickel plated such as founts and base rests. Burners, valves, burner caps, etc. never had anything but a mill or cast finish. Painted founts had a utility paint job. They were not buffed out. Steel parts had a protective finish such as galvanizing or cadmium plating. Also, even if a lantern has been sitting in a box for 30+ years, you will see scuffs on the lower lip of the fount and possibly on the sides where the side of the box has come in contact with the painted surface. Buffing is also used to remove burn marks. If it says it's never been lit, look closely for signs of cleaning and buffing to remove these heat signatures.
Painting - Much of the same issues with polishing and buffing apply here. If the paint looks too good, look closer. The bottom lip should have scuffing from sitting in the box, no matter what. Some series of early painted lanterns have the same drip on the bottom side of the fount from the original painting. Get to know the colors and what standard rattle can colors are out there. Krylon forest green is close but a little bluer than the original. Burner frames are another item often painted to hide rust. The early frames were painted but the paint was very thin. I've never been able to reproduce it and have it survive the heat.
Decals – water slide only on everything. You shouldn’t be able to see an edge on the decal like you would with a vinyl sticker. The style of decal is harder as you have to study other lanterns from the same era to learn what the decals look like. I have yet to see a reproduction decal that matches the very early 1950s lettering. They seem to have a taller aspect ratio than the later ones. Decals are crisp, not hazy like the edges from a inkjet.
Boxes – If a lamp or lantern looks pristine and the box looks like it’s had better days, wouldn’t you think the lamp or lantern obtain damage in the same areas as the box shows? Does the box show signs of being “soft” from being stored in a high humidity environment? The lamp or lantern should share the same effects as well as the paperwork in the box.
Does this mean that all sellers who paint/polish/clean/buff/reporcelain/restore are evil? Not at all – as long as they divulge that they have done so. Custom paint jobs, bright plating, newly plated vents are great and keep you from getting bored with the same old thing. So go ahead and buy away! If that fake Gold Bond speaks to you, be sure you are willing to pay for what you are getting – and you may be stuck with it. My goal is to not create controversy, but to prevent it. If one person is prevented from making a several hundred dollar mistake, the mission is accomplished.