The Fraud Amongst Us

By Cliff Jackson, AACA Task Force

 

     When archaeologist Gregory Perino first helped his close collector friends by weeding out fakes from their collections, he never dreamed of the trouble that would grow from it. This gentle intelligent man who tends his garden and gives vegetables to friends has become, through his fame as a popular publishing archaeologist and commercial relic authenticator, the victim of fraud and forgery.

     The first Perino papers from the mid-1980s were typed on his old typewriter and hand-signed.  To close friends, he sometimes simply wrote, “You don’t know what you’re buying….”, and then he would explain why he said that.  Those friends convinced Mr. Perino of the need for a commercial authentication service from an expert with his fine career credentials.  Within a few years, Perino authentication and typology papers were sought after, and soon, the first faked papers appeared.  These were simply copies of his paper, with a forged signature.  Some were so crudely done as to be comical, but many people had never seen any Perino papers before, so quickly the first “paper fraud” victims were born.

     To combat the faked papers, Greg Perino began taking certain measures that he believed would stop them.  He began sealing the outline drawings onto the paper. He got his friend Ray Fraser to make him an embossing seal with his signature on it. This is the very same seal used to make the authentic embossment featured in the AACA Fraud Alert on the AACA website.  This seal has been proved to have been used on every single embossed authentication that Greg Perino has done since 1989.

     Gradually, as the original Perino seal faded as the softer counter plate wore down, and the embossments got lighter.  Then, after the counter plate was renewed in late 1999 (but the brass signature remained untouched), the embossment got heavier.  Before the seal was renewed, however, Ray Fraser made Mr. Perino a second seal from the original signature.

The second seal was deeper than the first, so much so that it cut through the few test runs that Greg Perino ran, and he decided NOT to use it on his papers.  He placed it into a drawer, where it has remained until recently when it was returned to Ray Fraser for disposal. According to Mr. Perino, he NEVER used the second seal on a paper.

     By 1995, there were fraudulent Perino papers with fake embossments, as well as erased and altered papers on the relic market.  The problem was so bad that Mr. Perino requested that the Genuine Indian Relic Society publish this warning about those fake papers in Issue #1, 1997 of Prehistoric American journal:

Authenticity Certificates are being Forged- Fraudulent artifacts are nothing new. Of all the so-called G-10s on the marketplace, 90% are fakes. That’s why the sudden interest and requests for “papers”. Based on that, it’s not unexpected that the crooks now forge “papers” to sell their fakes. Mr. Greg Perino, who has saved thousands, millions (of dollars), has seen his certificates duplicated and forged in recent months.  I have personally seen some of these forgeries myself. Seems they are coming from Kentucky and Ohio for the most part. Plus I have seen some forgeries of others, not quite as prominent. How do they do it? Simple, with a computer and a scanner, the crooks insert their obvious fake and use the name of an unknown person out of the area. Is this something new? Hardly, some unscrupulous dealers give guarantees on obvious frauds all the time. Do be cautious.” (From Prehistoric American, #1, 1997, Col. John Berner, Editor)

     This warning was seven years ago, and the problem has only gotten worse since that time. More fakes have been made, and more papers made to suit the crooks. Many nationwide shows have featured these relics and papers-as AUTHENTIC, awaiting a willing buyer!

     Worldwide into our new millenium, collecting ancient relics is at an all-time high in popularity mainly due to the Internet and eBay auctions.  There is a larger variety and distribution of relics both modern and old available to new collectors.  Many new collectors do not have the skills or knowledge to discern old from ancient, so they use authentication services.  There are now over 40 different authenticators providing their opinions on relics, using a variety of both highly effective and blatantly non-effective criteria.  Choosing an authenticator is almost as important as the right choice of artifacts and dealers, and it is a task best accomplished after considerable research, thought, and discussion.

     The Granddaddy of Authentication, Greg Perino, at 90 years old, is still producing his opinions for his customers.  Several years back Mr. Perino announced that he would not be taking on new customers, but he continues to this day to review artifacts for his customers. Unfortunately his good work for collectors over the years has been badly disfigured by the unscrupulous sellers that have flooded the market with fraudulent authentication papers on high dollar relics, most notably on many perfect and questionable Clovis and Cumberland points from the Midwest

     The AACA Fraud Alert was issued to make all collectors aware of the counterfeit papers on the market.  It features high resolution scans of the original, genuine embossment and of several counterfeit embossments that have been found on a large number of relics.

Gregory Perino has been involved in this investigation and the identification of these frauds, and is concerned for those collectors that own them.  Collectors can compare these seals with their own papers and decide for themselves what action to take.  Rest assured that if the Perino seal is not identical to the genuine seal as pictured, further investigation is needed. Collectors are urged to check their papers and if any difference is seen, check with the collector that is named on the paper to see if they actually owned the piece, or have the paper and relic examined by an expert.

     We’ve all heard the saying, “Buy the rock, not the paper”.  This is a maxim that all collectors should follow, through education, study, and comparison of whatever they collect. Then, if a collector needs a Gregory Perino authentication paper as assurance that the rock is good, he needs to make sure that the relic and the paper are the “real Perino” and did not come from the fraud amongst us.

 

 

 

References:

Berner, Col. John F., Editor, Prehistoric American, Number 1, 1997

Published by the Genuine Indian Relic Society, Inc.

 

Fraser, Raymond, Personal communications

Perino, Gregory, Personal communications

 

Links: http://www.theaaca.com/Perino/index.htm

http://www.theaaca.com