Your turn to say “real” or “fake”

Please send comments here or to my Facebook page So, you might have guessed since they are on the blog, that these silhouettes are all fakes. I’ve gone back and numbered the images below for ease in discussing them. Number 1 has a nicely cut watch-chain and watch hanging from the gent’s jacket, but none of the other details are the quality of Edouart’s cutting. Numbers 1 & 2 are supposedly four relatives. The backgrounds on both are too simplistic for Edouart, Edouart did not inscribe the names of his sitters on the front of commissioned silhouettes and the ink is much too black to be the iron gall ink that Edouart used. The hands in both 1 & 2 are in positions that allow the cutter to avoid showing detail although Edouart was very detailed in hands (which he thought the most important part). The cutter of these first two silhouettes turned out a lot of fakes, always [or, now it seems to be almost always] with dates that Edouart was in America (which are more valuable to Americans). Oddly the first three conversation silhouettes have no date at all…..I don’t know of a real commissioned Edouart without a date. The cutter made quite good silhouettes but they weren’t Edouart’s style. Number 3 depicting two men also suffers the problems of a simplistic background and black ink. This pair gave me pause as they do have rather good hands. I can’t figure out why the guy on the left is holding an oil can (okay, maybe it’s something else but it looks odd and it’s an accessory I never saw used by Edouart). Their clothes are pretty good but where are Edouart’s signature button holes? That goes for the gents in the first two pair. Oddly, the auction descriptions for numbers 1,2 & 3 say they are watercolor silhouettes–Edouart only did cut-out silhouettes (cut & paste). Number 4 went across the auction block on September 24 and was passed. Apparently, the consignor decided to lower the reserve because October 28, it sold. Same problems as last time I report–simplistic background, sitter’s name wouldn’t be inscribed on front of commissioned silhouette, the ink is signature is black. None of Edouart’s wonderful detail in the cutting–although she does have 4 fingers. No fly away strands of hair, no flow to her dress, her face is very flat. Number 5–egads! Please read about fake silhouettes with the impressed stamp “PEALE’S MUSEUM” under a spread eagle on my website “Silhouettist Bios“. There is also a very good article written by Anne Verplanck, former curator at Winterthur Museum, “Peales Museum Silhouettes“. Read one of those articles so you don’t get caught with these easy to spot fakes–you just have to know the key. It is an interesting story too! Number 6 has been thoroughly discussed on my facebook page and I thank all of you who played that game.

1. Coming up at auction. Real or fake? UPDATE: The silhouette above sold for $220 + 25% buyers premium.
2. Coming up at auction–if you got the first one correct, this should be no problem for you because all sitters are from same family. UPDATE: The silhouette above sold for $360 + 25% buyers premium.
3. Coming up at auction–Real or Fake? UPDATE: The silhouette above sold for $330 + 25% buyers premium.
4. Since this one didn’t sell last week, she’s being offered again! UPDATE: The silhouette above sold for $410 + 25% buyers commission. This is the silhouette’s second time on the block in just over one month. It was passed the first time.
5. These two have an impressed stamp saying, “PEALE’S MUSEUM” under a spread eagle. Real or Fake? UPDSTE; This pair of super fakes sold for $250 + 25% buyers premium.
6. How about this one? I had to study it for a while. UPDATE; This silhouette sold at a different auction house for $300 + 27%.
Signature for the silhouette above. It is blurry on the auction listing but it still tells the tale.

Yep, Another Fake Coming Up!

I just watched this fake Edouart sell at auction for $850 ($976 including buyer’s premium! I hope the buyer is not one of my readers! There is another fake coming up…but, at the moment, I can’t remember where I saw it so I can’t yet get a photo to you.

Just a warning that yet another fake Edouart is coming up. The “type” is familiar. They always carry the American years that he was here. They always have the name of the sitter on the front and generally have black ink. I can’t see this one closely enough to tell the color of the ink but those that don’t have black ink seem to have been signed in brown watercolor that widened as it was signed. Most are well cut silhouettes (which always makes me wonder why the faker didn’t just go out under his/her own name) but the style is not Edouart’s. This one is not well cut–at least not by Edouart’s standards. The cutting for the hand is not bad though.

You Didn’t Buy These, Did You?

I am really trying to ignore these super fakes. Calling them out makes me feel bad but I really hate when someone spends hard-earned money on something that isn’t what they think. I hope my readers have learned to analyze what comes up for sale with the basic Edouart facts I’ve harped on forever. I keep hoping that auctioneers will use my free service to just take a quick look to say “it’s real” or “it’s fake.” A few do but most sell things blindly without even trying to learn about some difficult items. Let’s face it, nobody can know everything about everything. That is why I specialize and it isn’t really hard to find someone who can help.

Caveat Emptor, my readers! Buyer Beware! It really makes me sick at my stomach to think that somebody paid for the pieces below.

Now, kind readers, tell me why we know these are not real Edouarts. I look forward to reading your thoughts.

The lovely above sold for $2,318
The one above only sold for $854

Do not buy!

I’m just going to say, don’t buy this pair of fake Doyle silhouettes.  Don’t blame the seller because everyone can not know everything about every category.  But the cutting of these silhouettes is very inferior to the work of Doyle.Ebay listing of fake Doyle silhouettes  I messaged the buyer to tell her nicely that they are not real.

Here is my message to her: “I am sorry but think you should know that the pair of silhouettes you are offering are reproductions. They were made in the early decades of the 20th century when interest in antique silhouettes was at its height because of pioneer collectors/scholars. A number of companies began making repros that were meant to be sold as such. As time passed, these became aged looking and began being sold as antique–19th century. If you take them out of the frames you will see that what is meant to look like reverse painted glass mats is (if I remember correctly from last time I opened a pair like this) actually printed on either thin matboard or on the silhouette paper. I’m sorry I can’t remember exactly about the mats, but I do remember that they are not painted glass. These silhouettes are inferior to the ones that Doyle and/or cut. They would have originally had a label on the back but that is almost always missing now.”

Here is her response: “You are incorrect these are original cut silouettes by the welknown artist Doyle. They are signed by the artist in pencil. They have been in my family for over 100 years.”

So, if they were in her family for 100 years, that says they were in her family since about 1920.  That is right about the time that reproductions of 19th century were being made and sold. Doyle died in 1828.  As I said, we can’t expect all people to know everything about everything.  My goal is to educate.  Right now, I’m trying to educate you not to buy repros and fakes–unless you are paying appropriately for what you are buying.

The Fake Edouarts Keep on Coming!

fake bust 01-401726160104The fake Edouarts on ebay never end.  Today’s fake is a bust-length. You likely have no reason to recognize Edouart’s bust termination line because he did so few.  I will add some real ones for you to compare–but even without that specialized knowledge, look for the problems. First, no eyelash. Since Edouart cut nice delicate eyelashes, you should see one. Second, Edouart cut away a sliver of a gent’s silhouette to depict the white collar. This white collar is chalked in–you have to enlarge and look closely at the edge of the white where you can see how the chalk goes into the black. Third, whether it looks real, don’t trust “granny notes” as if they are proof. I don’t know whether the collection label is legit or not. I found a couple of unrelated pieces of art that are said to have a provenance of Arthur De La Poer Rowbothem but haven’t seen the labels. I know that collection labels were faked in the early decades of the 20th century. I have seen multiples of a collection label for a collection that never existed…I can’t tell you anything about this one. The written inscription is in brown ink…when there is no reason for the ink not to be black since Arthur De La Poer Rowbothem was still alive in 1954–to late for iron gall ink to be necessary. I can’t read all of the inscription but I can “original inscription on Back of card.”  I have no reason to know that the inscription naming the sitter and artist exist at all or can be authenticated.  What I have reason to know is that this silhouette is not by Edouart.  If you want to see this item, ebay search 401726160104.fake bust 02-401726160104

Closer Look at Too Fake to Leave Along

I got a few comments which show that my readers have learned well about spotting fakes. Someone drew us to the heavy eyelashes, crude & jagged cutting, black lettering and a bit more. All good catches but I want to delve further with you.  First, another look at the whole then we will get to the details.fake-11

I am totally shocked at those horrid thick eyelashes!  Especially the two at the top.  View the fake and a real Edouart that has really been through Hell (went down with the ship) but still exhibits Edouart’s delicate eyelash.










Hands meant so much to Edouart and he cut them well.  Side by side fake vs real.  No contest.

fake-11-handsfake 3-hands

The poor lady above left has one claw and one club.  I can’t even imagine what happened to the above right gent’s hand!


Above is a real Edouart showing the delicate and graceful hands he cut.

I don’t know how to classify this issue but the harpist’s arm rolls over the harp like a snake!!!!  My goodness–Run Girl Run before that snake bites you!  His mouth is already opened!


I have only seen one of Edouart’s harps but compare the fake (below left) to real (below right).

When looking at the quality of cutting, compare the fake below left which shows ladies’ hair and dresses with the real one below right. 


The last point I want to make is the writing.  Some people got the fact that the writing is black whereas Edouart always used iron gall ink which has all turned brown by now. But I hope you will look at the writing itself to compare to Edouart’s real writing so you can see the fakeness.  Beyond the color, look at all of the handwriting and the differences between each entry which we are led to believe is an original grouping in original frame.  First, assume he cut and wrote each of these on the same day.  Find all of the capital letters “A”.  Edouart’s signature sometimes had a capital “A” to begin Augustin and sometimes had a small “a” made larger to show the capitalization.  One thing that never varied is that he used his signed his first name as Aug with a superscript n with two vertical lines below.  Please look at the fake signatures/dates/places directly below and compare them to the real signatures I have included below that.  There are so many discrepancies in the fake that I don’t have the time to discuss them right now.  If someone really wants more discussion about the writing, please let me know by comment and I’ll write more another day.


Fake above

Real signatures above.

This is all I can manage today.  The reason for this post is to make sure you don’t get screwed buying a fake, at least not a bad fake like the one on ebay now.  And educated buyer is a safer buyer.

Too Fake to Leave Alone

Pick out some features that scream fake!

UPDATE: It’s back up for bid on ebay.  Please don’t be fooled.  It is such a horrible fake.  If you want to see it for your self, search ebay for item number 313055466032.

I haven’t posted in way too long.  So much water under the bridge…too much to go into.  But, looks like I might be baaaccckkk!  At least, here is a push start.  I saw this on ebay and just can’t let it go.  If you bid on this I may have to spank your hand and suspend your buying privileges!  This is one of the worst fake Edouart silhouettes that I have ever seen–and believe me, I have seen a lot!  So, I’m going to play teacher and, students, before you read further, tell me what are some elements that tell you this is fake.

I am not sure I can leave this without more comment but I’m going to try to leave it and come back tomorrow….today, give me your thoughts.

Great American Folk Silhouettes Auctioned

Wow, what a great auction Skinner Inc. held May 21, 2016 for the Personal Collection of Lewis Scranton! Longtime dealer/collector Lewis Scranton hosted the auction at his home in Connecticut (preview in-home as displayed by the collector, auction under a tent outside).  Mr. Scranton insisted on the auction having no buyers’ premium!  It made for a very exciting auction.  I watched and bid online but couldn’t get a thing although I was underbidder on a number of truly extraordinary and rare American folk silhouettes. Here is a run-down of the fantastic silhouettes at this auction. The silhouettes are not in any particular order.  Congratulations to the high bidders on these profiles.

Bache hollowcut 1700

By William Bache, listed in catalog as a hollow cut. I sent an inquiry asking whether it was a hollow cut with shaded black paper behind (Bache did these but they are rare because the backing papers got separated from cutting) or fully painted. Answer came back that it appeared to be cut & paste–not words used but basically the answer. I knew that wasn’t the correct answer but didn’t bid. By price I would say it was hollow cut with shaded background.–$1700

not Whitcomb 7500

(In my opinion misattributed) to James Holsey Whitcomb in paint decorated frame–$7500. My attribution is to Justin Salisbury.


Wish I had not been saving up for the later silhouettes and had gone higher on this one. Unattributed at auction, but I attribute to Everet Howard because of the bustline termination and the painted dots around the boy’s clothing. $900.

Williams 1200

Charlotte Cummings by S. Williams–$1200. Interestingly, it appears that the silhouette is sewn onto the black backing (which is probably fabric).


Anonymous Artist, hollow-cut head with wood block stamped body. $900

Whitcomb 5500

Attr. James Holsey Whitcomb, in paint decorated frames–$5500

Tin frames 3000

Unsigned hollowcut in fabulous paint decorated frames–$3000

Newell 3000

Attributed to Anson Newell–$3000


Anonymous Artist, paint decorated paper mat. I’ve only seen two by this artist with the original painted mats. This is the 2nd time I’ve chased this silhouette but I didn’t get it this time either! $7500

Fraktur ringlets 4750

Anonymous Artist–A true American folk treasure–Published in A Loving Likeness American Folk Portraits of the Nineteenth Century–$4750

Fraktur 4750 under

Anonymous Artist–Another American folk treasure–1st child I’ve seen by this artist–$4750

Fraktur 4500

Anonymouse Artist–Another great one!–$4500

Fraktur 2000 question

Anonymous Artist–this one is different than any I’ve seen by this artist because of the very thin neck–$2000

Fraktur 1700

Anonymous Artist–1 of the few I didn’t bid on because I have several women by this artist–$1700

Davis 8000

Signed J.A. Davis, published in Silhouettes in America, 1790-1840, listed by Skinner as James A. Davis but I believe they meant Jane A. Davis–I really wanted this one!–$8000


Anonymous Artist–$5500.  I was a bit surprised by the price of this one because I have one by this artist and didn’t pay nearly this much.



Recent “Edouarts” sold at auction

Such a shame that these fake Edouarts recently were offered at auction.  I’ll call upon my kind readers to tell me why we know these silhouettes are fake.

Neals Auction lot 202 151121Neal Auction Company sold this very fake Edouart for $735 in its November 21-22, 2015 auction.  It is signed, dated 1844 and inscribed “New Orleans”.  Realize there are very few Southern cut silhouettes by Edouart and fake ones come up much more than real ones.



Cresent City Lot 388 1411This same silhouette sold at Crescent City Auction Gallery LLC for $900 in November 2014.





Skinner lot 146 151026These two silhouettes came up for auction at Skinner Inc. in their October 25, 2015 auction.  Luckily they did not sell at auction, although they may well have sold after auction.  I hope not.  They are very nice silhouettes but they are not by Edouart.  Can you tell me what the clues are?


Not fake missed Skinner 1511Finally….this last silhouette is a real Edouart and she is lovely.  I’m showing her to you because she was such a good deal and I forgot to bid!!!  I was so sad to have missed her.  She was also at Skinner Inc.



Please let me hear from you so we can share the clues of what to look for in these silhouettes with the rest of the readers……this is another one of those tests where we see whether I’m a good teacher or not!

The images, with the information attached, is from

bh writes: Ok, I am new at this but will take a wild stab at it and risk showing how uneducated/ignorant I am. 🙂 First, the empty background sticks out being so blank but I am unsure if he always had them watercolored/litho’d or whatever. Next, the feet seem weird because they all look like they’re on tippy toes. I thought one could be pointed downward but the other is usually straight ahead. Now what seems the strangest to me is the way the 6 year old boy is dressed….as an adult. Didn’t young boys dress like girls at that age? This one looks like a shrunken adult.

Peggy responds, bh, thanks for your comment.  Your comments are anything but ignorant! We all start somewhere and you have been working really hard to learn about antique silhouettes.  I appreciate you enthusiasm and interest!  Edouart did sometimes do commissioned silhouettes with white backgrounds.  The price to the sitter would have been partially determined by whether a white, litho or watercolor background was chosen.  You are correct about the feet–they are nothing like Edouart’s feet.  Of the 3 figures, the boy’s feet are closest to Edouart.  The feet of the woman and girl are not even close.  The boy is wearing an Eton suit which was fashionable for young boys in the 1840s.

Look deeper…..things like placement of body parts, awkwardness of positions, the care he took cutting hair and hands, signature characteristics of Edouart’s figures of men and boys (a clue is look at the apparel).  The photos given by the auction houses are too small to see the faces clearly, but there are no cut eyelashes that I can see.  Keep studying and sending comments!

Ebay seller stole my copyrighted photograph

This morning I find that ebay seller “theprimitiveman” stole one of my copyrighted photographs to produce a print of the silhouette for monetary gain. I am, of course, livid. One may reproduce an old piece of artwork only if one uses the actual artwork or the reproducer’s own photograph of the piece. However, when someone steals a photograph that is copyrighted to use for monetary gain, one has infringed on the copyright. I haven’t found this in a while….since I started putting a watermark on my photos. But, I am always hesitant to smack the watermark right across the body of the piece and so have tried to hide the watermarks out of the way. Today, this selfish individual has assured that I will change my method and smack the watermark right across the body of the artwork. What a shame that someone can be so callous and selfish as to steal someone else’s material for individual gain.

$_57Here is the ebay listing (#131609039715)

Woman blue dress 5225 02c 144 px

Compare it to the photos of my silhouette at

He has even reproduced the horizontal crease in the original.  The only difference is that he extended her dress beyond the églomisé glass mat so that he could put it in a rectangular frame.

I would appreciate if some of you would send him a message through ebay telling him that his blatant use of copyrighted material is disgraceful and he should stop doing it immediately!