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Thursday, March 19, 2015

More Prop Domain Auction Fraud


This is the second in a series of articles on the recent Horror Domain auctions on iCollector.  Since the auctioneer was selling obviously fake Star Trek costumes, Francis Scofield decided to do some serious investigation into the other costumes.  Here is what he found.

A guest blog by Francis Scofield

I’m a guy that believes in buyer beware (Caveat emptor), but I also believe in honest disclosure from sellers.  Sometimes you have to dig a bit to get to the truth, and homework is required.  Here is a second example of Propdomain being slippery with the truth of an item in the Feb 7, 2015 auction.
Lot # 39 is a Formal Dress Uniform from Buck Roger’s in the 25th Century as worn by Gil Gerrard.  Really?  Let’s look into this. 

Like the ‘Gordon’ covered a couple of weeks ago, it comes with that same LOA that has no name, title, or recognizable signature.  I believe this is done to give the veneer of provenance, without the risk of liability to the seller.  However, like last time, we will look at the uniform on its own merits.

First he says it was worn by Gil Gerrard as Buck Rogers.  When you look at this screencap, Buck has a single braid on his sleeve whereas the one in the auction has 3.  This clearly doesn’t belong to Buck, so it brings up 2 questions:  Is calling it Gil’s a simple mistake or lies, and which costumes do have 3 rank braids if any?   The only characters in the entire series with 3 rank braids are Col. Wilma Deering and Dr. Elias Huer.

 

So I call David and point this fact out, and he says (essentially) that it is definitely cut for a man so it must be Dr. Huers.  He then changes the title and description based on my information. So, now all of the sudden, it was made for Dr. Huer?   Well, maybe… so let’s look further.  Actual buck Rogers stuff is somewhat rare, but there are just enough costumes in private hands to make good comparisons. 
First, let’s look at the sleeve.  The spacing of the braids from each other is similar, but they are much closer to the end of the sleeve in the screencap.  If you watch the episodes where this type of costume is employed, all of the jackets are made this way.

Next is the Earth Defense insignia on the sleeve.  The first photo is of a known screen worn costume, and notice is that it is a sewn on patch.  The one in the auction was embroidered into the sleeve fabric (as per my phone conversation with David).  Moreover, if you look at the branches that bracket the Earth, the original ones stop at the top of the Earth, while the one in the auction goes all the way to the top of the shield.

Going further, the screen worn version shows buttons that are concave and the screencap verifies that Dr. Huer had those same concave buttons.  Though the picture is poor, the auction version has convex buttons, and again, my conversation with David verified this.                  

 
My final observation concerns something a bit less tangible, but no less important.  The overall feel of the auction jacket looks slack and made from weak materials, whereas the original ones in the screencaps and in private collections look structured and crisp with higher quality fabric.   


My instincts tell me this item is not screen used or studio made.  I hesitate to say these are ‘fakes’ as they may have been made by a fan whom simply wanted a costume to wear at a convention or other events, and down the road they ended up at an auction by the next owner.  There may not have been any intent by the maker to defraud.  However, if David would have made a small effort to investigate the details I pointed out to him, he would see this is not screen used or production made.  This is where it becomes a ‘fake’.  
I can’t say what is in David’s mind when these went up for auction, but I do know that auctioning this and other items with so many authenticity questions is irresponsible at best, fraudulent at worst.  $3,900 for the ‘Gordon’ and $1,800 for this costume seem steep to me for what I think are fakes, bur ultimately ‘Nicole’ will have to decide that for herself. 


Francis Scofield

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