Ever since people started collecting things, part of the human race started making fakes to sell to them.
Some of the more famous ancient counterfeit items include Egyptian artifacts that were sold to European travelers. Thousands of viewers were fooled over the years by the “relics of Joan of Arc,” which turned out to include, among other things, an Egyptian mummified cat bone.
The ancient Romans were frequent victims of fake currency. Counterfeiters would mix various metals, cast them as coins and plate them with either gold or silver to create a much less valuable copy of the money. Old coin molds have been found that prove the existence of a widespread counterfeiting operation by Roman Empire-era criminals.
As in ancient times, embroidered patch collectors today can be fooled by fakes that are sold as the real thing. It is important to compare and contrast examples.
In the 1990s, the owner of a small patch company was arrested by the FBI http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1993-08-12/news/9308120250_1_jamboree-badges-traditional-civics-badges-michael-w-welsh for selling bootleg versions of unauthorized Boy Scout patches at a national jamboree. Rare Boy Scout patches are very desirable and as a manufacturer for the national Boy Scouts since the early 1950s, the Chicago Embroidery Company made many of the patches that are now collectable.
It takes a fine eye and knowledge of Schiffli embroidery manufacturing technique to spot a fake patch. Today, most embroidered patches are made using multi-head direct embroidery machines. These sewing machines produce great looking patches but the embroidery stitching tends to be “flat” compared to embroidery made on a Schiffli loom.
Schiffli loom embroidery machines tended to be used less, beginning in the 1990s when computerized sewing machines became more cost-efficient. Embroidered patches produced earlier than the 1980s were most likely made on Schiffli looms.
The pictured example shows a Super Bowl IX patch that was made on Schiffli loom, note the texture of the raised stitches. A counterfeit Super Bowl IX patch recently for sale on Ebay as “original” appears to be a fake, and shown here the embroidery looks tighter and flatter than the original. Note the difference in the backgrounds and other details.
To the embroidered patch collector, “buyer beware” is good advice to follow when buying old collector patches. For more information on ordering custom patches, visit the Chicago Embroidery Company at http://www.C-Emblem.com