January 27, 2016 - David Bernstein
AUTHENTICATION OF ARCHAEOLOGICAL GOLD
The oldest known forgery of a pre-Columbian gold object is from the 17th or 18th century. The forgery is a brass eagle complete with royal crown, and was found in late 1960s and published in 1965 André Emmerich’s 1965 Sweat of the Sun and Tears of the Moon: Gold and Silver in Pre-Columbian Art.
Tremendous growth in interest in archeological gold has contributed to a massive amount of forgeries.
There are two ways to prove that something has been forged; technical proof and stylistic proof.
Technical proof includes things like spotting the wrong alloy; stylistic proof is in the design of the piece. Often times an expert will notice a stylistic error which will in turn lead to technical testing.
Gold art work can be authenticated technically by several methods:
Or, a true expert can authentic a piece using this type of stylistic criteria:
Authentication by Experts
Most of our gold pieces have been approved of by the late Robert Sonin (1926-2011), a renowned expert on Pre-Columbian metallurgy who consulted with major museums, art dealers, conservators, and auction houses, and collaborated with institutions such as the American Museum of Natural History. His notes are on record at the Princeton University Art Museum.