How To Know If Your Historical Photos Are Genuine - Some Tips

There is no denying it, in the world of antiques and collectibles, forgeries are unfortunately an irritating fact of life collectors must learn to deal with. On the bright side, a well informed collector can easily keep at bay the vast majority of these frauds from making their way into their collection. To help you in this endeavour, here are a few tips we can give to beginner collectors on how to spot  fake World War 2 German Photographs.

  1. Black light testing. This is perhaps the most effective way of proving if one of your photos is a post war forgery. By exposing your photo to a source of black light (ultraviolet light), most post war paper objects will emit a bright blue fluorescence that our naked eye can see. This effect is due to synthetic whiteners that have been introduced to the paper production process since the 1950's. 
  2. Sharpness of the photo. In most post war reproductions, an unevenness is detectable in the photo's sharpness. The centre of the image will tend to be sharper and the edges blurrier. 
  3. Colour Contrast. Another easy way to spot forged photos is by identifying photos with low colour contrast. In a reprint much detail and colour present in the original photo are lost rendering them duller than the originals. 
  4. Unnatural Brown or Yellow Shades. Forgers will often attempt to add "age" to their photos by adding artificial colouring agents to their forged items. 
  5. Side trimming of the photo. Photo paper from the war period was often adorned with fancy edge trimming. The presence of such trimming is not an outright guarantee of the photo's authenticity as this can also be easily replicated. As a rule, forged trimmings tend to be sharper than the genuine war and pre-war trimmings that are generally smoother. 
  6. Use Common sense. Using whatever experience you may have handling older documents. Does the paper, colouring, size and image found in the photo feel right? 

Tips before purchasing: 

  1. Be weary of purchasing "Too Good To Be True" photos. Beginner buyers are often keen on purchasing photos depicting famous events, people and symbols of the war. Whilst there are genuine photos depicting these elements, these are also the most forged given their historical and hence collectible value. 
  2. Pay attention to description of the photo before purchasing. Trustworthy sellers will mention "Copy", "Reprint" or something along these lines. 
  3. Purchase from trustworthy sellers that offer guarantees of authenticity on all their items.