FRAUD IN THE COMMERCIAL FOSSIL MARKET
scientist or museum curator and they will tell you. Fossil fraud and
become a huge problem in today's commercial fossil market. It is of
utmost importance for both dealers and collectors to be able to determine if
a fossil has been faked or parts of it fabricated. Here we have
dedicated a separate section on this vital topic.
An excellent paper
has been published on this topic that will provide additional information.
You can download it here.
are no fossil authentication services, no respected dealer guilds to
support, and no books on the market explaining how to detect fake or
restored fossils, the commercial fossil market requires the practice of CAVEAT
EMPTOR, or "let the buyer beware".
WARNING TO ALL WHO PURCHASE FROM
DEALERS WHO DO NOT PROVIDE A WRITTEN GUARANTEE OF AUTHENTICITY. MOST DEALERS DO NOT EVEN MAKE
ANY MENTION OF SUCH A GUARANTEE ON THEIR WEBSITES, AUCTIONS OR SHOW BOOTHS.
IF A DEALER WILL NOT GUARANTEE A PURCHASE'S AUTHENTICITY WITH A
WRITTEN LIFETIME AND UNCONDITIONAL
MONEY BACK REFUND THEN YOU HAVE NO ONE TO BLAME BUT YOURSELF SHOULD
YOU FIND THE ITEM IS NOT AS REPRESENTED.
A GUARANTEE NOT
IN WRITING IS NOT A GUARANTEE.
The fossil business is increasingly being plagued each year with better and more advanced
fakes finding their way into the marketplace. Add to this the
extensive knowledge a dealer MUST possess in order to properly identify
their fossils and recognize fake or altered specimens and you can see that the sale of
fossils is not a task to be taken lightly.
DEALER FULLY KNOWLEDGEABLE AND WITH EXTENSIVE HANDS-ON EXPERIENCE IN FOSSIL PREPARATION, RESTORATION, REPAIR AND FAKERY IS YOUR
PRIMARY DEFENSE AND BEST INSURANCE POLICY when
it comes to building a fine quality fossil collection of accurately
identified and authentic fossils. What determines a
"knowledgeable" dealer? The staff at Paleo Direct is fully experienced
and actively engaged
in fossil preparation, repair and restoration. To be clear - we don't
just KNOW how fossil preparation and restoration is done - WE DO IT.
We operate a large, fully equipped paleontological lab on our premises.
The majority of the specimens we sell were prepared by us and every specimen
we offer has been fully researched for proper identification and backed by
our written guarantee of its description and authenticity. It's not enough to brag about what
equipment you have if you really just show it off for promotional purposes
and fire it up once in a while for a photo op.
We feel that
the only fossil dealer that can be relied on when it comes to
this topic (assuming the dealer is honest to begin with!) is
dealer who PERSONALLY knows AND HAS CONSIDERABLE HANDS-ON EXPERIENCE in
actually preparing, repairing and restoring fossils. This
excludes many but many of the techniques used today to forge and fabricate
fossils have become so sophisticated that without this experience it becomes
dangerous "guesswork". Many dealers have been sold forgeries by their
suppliers who they thought were their "friends" only to find out the truth
at the expense of their customers and reputation. Stay away from
brokers and stick with a professional supplier who has the ACTUAL fossil
preparation hours under their belt if you want peace of mind. Without
this, you are trusting a stranger who is also trusting a stranger or
"friend". Sure, most fossil dealers will offer unconditional
guarantees and a refund if a fossil is found to be misrepresented but don't
you want to KNOW what you have without the fear of uncertainty? It's
good to check up and get second opinions on even dealers you know. We
at Paleo Direct encourage our customers to second opinions FROM THE
SCIENTIFIC OR SCHOLASTIC COMMUNITY. Obviously, from the massive amount
of information we provide on this website and encourage, we believe the more
you know, the better position you will be in.
HONEST BUT UNINFORMED FOSSIL DEALER IS MORE DANGEROUS THAN A
DISHONEST FOSSIL DEALER.
The end result is the same - you will not get what you are told you are
getting but worse yet,
honest dealer does not give you any "red flags" or negative vibe
so you drop your guard and in their ignorance, they sell a fake or
THIS IS A HUGE PROBLEM IN THE COMMERCIAL FOSSIL MARKET NOW as fakes become
more prevalent and sophisticated!!!
YOU DO AS THE CUSTOMER?
If you feel
you have been slighted by a bad dealer, one remedy is to contact any
professional organizations the dealer belongs to such as the AAPS for
fossils or for artifacts, the AACA. Regarding
Primitive man artifacts such as
there are several professional appraisers (contact the AACA for list) that
can provide a professional opinion for a nominal fee. As for fossils,
sadly, there are no professional appraisal / identification services
available. If in doubt,
the best unbiased advice you can seek for a second opinion on fossils is to ask a
paleontologist or related scientist affiliated with a local museum.
Some will be happy to help. Another valuable source is a professor
within a university geology, biology or ideally, paleontology
department. While they may not be fully aware of techniques for faking
fossils, they WILL know what the real specimen should look like or what it
may be if identification is an issue.
Only the most experienced
fossil dealers who possess necessary test and preparation equipment and who are
EXTENSIVELY EXPERIENCED WITH ALL TECHNIQUES OF FOSSIL PREPARATION, RESTORATION AND
FABRICATION should be trusted to know the difference when it comes to fake
fossils of ANY source or type!
Very, very few fossil dealers have any
more knowledge in this than the very customers that rely on them!
NOT be afraid to ask your fossil dealer about his or her PERSONAL and
immediate experience in fossil preparation, restoration and fabrication.
If they tell you they do not PERSONALLY possess
YEARS OF EXTENSIVE first-hand experience
preparation and restoration, and that they are relying on THEIR
avoid these dealers at all costs! These fossil dealers likely have
several specimens in their inventory
that they have no clue as to their degree of authenticity regardless of any
guarantee or assurances that they will provide you.
How could they know if they lack experience in the methods in which fossils
are restored in the first place???
best defense will be EXPERIENCE AND EDUCATION and that will come with time.
Learn all you can about what you collect, why it is rare, what makes it
rare, what it looks like, how to spot fakes or restoration and what is the
proper identification of different specimens. If you actively purchase
fossils from various sources and you do not possess this knowledge, you WILL
get burned, guaranteed! It's only a matter of time and it
will be a costly education! Remember, in the realm of collecting
fossils or primitive human artifacts, KNOWLEDGE IS POWER. Besides, you
will gain enlightenment and a far greater appreciation for this hobby and
your fossil collection if you know all about it.
Where there are
specific issues with specific types of specimens we offer, we try to point out what
to look for in the individual listing or page on this website. We will be
happy to help answer any questions on this topic BUT.... we will NOT
point out bad dealers or appraise or identify your fossils for you.
That was the responsibility of the dealer you bought them from. Go to
them or have a member of the scientific or scholastic community help
OF TYPES OF FOSSIL FRAUD
Keep in mind that
this is not an all-inclusive section but is meant to highlight some of the
fraudulent types that can be encountered anywhere. Also, as time goes on, the trends in faking and fabricating fossils changes.
It is a game of cat and mouse. As the market becomes increasingly
aware of a certain type of technique, the fossil fakers evolve and change
their methods, sometimes moving into classes of fossils that were previously
not plagued with this problem. We will strive to keep this section
current as these changes occur.
TYPES OF FOSSIL FRAUDS