Picking with Reyne – Vol 14 – By Reyne Haines

August 9th, 2010 by

This was an exciting week in the world of picking.  CNN first reported a guy who was a garage sale enthusiast who had purchased a set of negatives some years ago for $45.00.

Recently the buyer took a closer look at them and thought they might be something. He showed them to an unnamed appraiser, only to be told they were the works of Ansel Adams and worth $200 million dollars.

Now, I can only imagine how visions of new cars, homes and trips around the world were running through his mind. I know they would be if it was me (ok, maybe visions of Christian Louboutin’s, a vintage Corvette, and a home on the ocean…)

In the meantime, the press catches wind of the story and reaches out to Ansel Adams grandson who reviews them and does not believe they are the works of his grandfather.

The owner of the negatives plans to setup a website to sell prints of the images on the negatives  for $45 for a poster and $7500 for a darkroom print.  The managing director for the Ansel Adams Publishing Trust is considering suing the buyer for using a copyright name for commercial purposes.

We’ve all had finds over the years we’ve thought were something, only to find out later they were a clever fake.  Whether is a reproduction piece of furniture, a lamp, or a painting…you have to be careful.  Take the time to do due diligence before buying, or making a claim like this owner has. That initial $45 investment might end up costing him millions before it’s all said and done.

Tell us your stories of great finds that turned out to be great duds here!


8 Responses to “Picking with Reyne – Vol 14 – By Reyne Haines”

  1. Cobayley Says:

    I think jewelry is the hardest…especially since some of the really quality pieces of high end costume have been reproduced. I’m pretty careful when it comes to purchasing jewelry unless the price is so reasonable, it won’t make a difference.

    Early on in my picking career, I did get fooled, really good. I was new to having a spot in an antique mall and shopped flea markets and garage sales to stock the shelves. I found this beautiful dresser set of R S Prussia porcelain. It looked good to me and I paid for it. As soon as I put it in my case at the mall, the manager approached me with a catalog from a big importing company. There was my set of not so real RS Prussia. You could order it for about $10.00. It was an expensive lesson for me, but it made me stop and realize, I couldn’t just buy anything because it looked like the real thing. I had to read and study and learn about what I was going to resell.

  2. Reyne Haines Says:

    Carolyn – Ahhh yes – RS Prussia has fooled many a people, along with fake Meissen, and so forth.

    Tell me, how can one learn more about the fake costume jewelry that is showing up on the market. What are some things to look for?


  3. Oh. Says:

    Your main point is sound, of course you need to be careful, 9—–+but there’s more to that Ansel Adams story. I’ve heard the man who purchased the slides has been researching them for years and has had them looked at by many folks, some prominent in the field, and you make no mention of the fact that the ‘family’ controls the estate which would stand to lose substantially if new works wee discovered. The family even said any prints from the new slides would be worthless even if the negatives were genuine since the value of an Ansel Adams photograph is in his darkroom technique. I’m paraphrasing from memory here, but I read quite a long article about it, and it seemed that the jury (so to speak) was still out on the authenticity of the slides.

  4. Oh. Says:

    Sorry about the “9—+” typo… kitty on the keyboard.

  5. Cobayley Says:

    Hmmm….You really have to study the old, to know the new. There is a different feel to the new. The old axiom, if it looks to good to be true, it probably is, holds fast with costume jewerly. Read. Many of the eBay guides address reproduction pieces and trends. There are untold websites and blogs that give insight to the ins and outs of new and old costume jewelry.

    The 1970′s brought a strong surge of “new” bakelite from Asia and France. Ironically, that 1970s jewlery is now very collectible. Christmas tree pin reproductions abound. Fake Weiss rhinestone jewelry is now mixed with the old in the market.

    If you are spending a minimal amount on a nice rhinestone pin you are going to wear, I say, don’t worry. If you are buying to resell or are spending a large some of money, ask an expert. Ask the seller to guarantee that the piece is as described. If they can’t, walk away.

  6. Reyne Haines Says:

    OH – The family is not who decides if the slides are authentic or not.
    There is a noted expert, like there are for many artists…and while I appreciate
    the “jury being out” – I think the jury has spoken.

    Did you not see the woman that stepped up with the photographs
    of the exact images? Her uncle took the photos ….

  7. Reyne Haines Says:


    Fake Weiss, really??

    I know about the bakelite and yea its funny how that has created its own market.
    And the newer stuff can be quite pricey!

    I love costume jewelry! and then I love fine jewelry too!
    Something for your jeans, and then something to go with that little black dress!

    Thanks for the alert!


  8. Antiques.com Says:

    Reyne, this story is true!

    I was once a flea market in Helsinki. I saw the vase on the table which seemed to vase which was designed
    by Gunnel Nyman. Vase is called “Serpentiini”(tickertape). I looked at it more closely, it seemed really
    genuine product. My alarm clock rang when I looked at the bottom. Signature was really clumsy!

    I say to the seller, that this is not a real Nyman`s product. Seller upset and said “how can I claim this ?”
    I said that the vase was manufactured Humppila glass factory ( Finland) and it was designed by Mikko Helander.
    Mikko Helander`s signature had been polish off and the vase was re-signed Gunnel Nyman Nuutajärvi.

    Unfortunately, this is often done, but this is a pure “HOAX” !

    Genuine “Serpentiini” value is about 2000€ ($2500) but Helander`s “Serpentiini” value is max. 100€ ($120).

    The “cheat” seller`s price request was 1000€ ( $1280), but she had sold the vase 900€ ($1150).


    fair trade to hoping : Marko……stay tuned :-)

    The pictures are genuine Gunnel Nyman`s “Serpentiini” ( 1st. image) and Mikko Helander`s “Serpentiini” (2st image)
    Looks the same, right?

Leave a Reply