Fake Memorial Plaque ??  

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In recent months there have been a number of "wide H" memorial plaques on the market named to one Ernest Edward Smith, in fact probably now exceeding the total number of Edward Ernest Smiths' killed in the war. A brief warning to buyers of these also appeared in the August 2007 issue of the "Medal News" magazine.

Regarding Ernest Edward Smith, "Soldiers Died in the Great War" records nine with this name:

3202, L/Cpl., KIA, F & F , 15/09/16, London Regiment, 6th (City of London) Battalion (Rifles).
41190, Pte., DOW, F & F , 19/09/18, Norfolk Regiment, 9th Battalion.
8063, L/Cpl., KIA, F & F , 22/10/18, Rifle Brigade (The Prince Consort's Own), 1st Battalion.
9572, Rfmn., KIA, F & F , 13/09/14, Rifle Brigade (The Prince Consort's Own), 1st Battalion.
G/15271, L/Cpl., KIA, 21/10/16, Royal Sussex Regiment, 11th Battalion.
L/10681, Pte., KIA, F & F , 09/04/17, Queen's Own (Royal West Kent Regiment), 6th Battalion.
L/7142, Sgt.., Died, Home, 13/09/15, Buffs (East Kent Regiment), 3rd Battalion.
L/9503, Pte., KIA, F & F , 08/11/14, Queen's (Royal West Surrey Regiment), 2nd Battalion.
L/9835, Pte., Died, Gallipoli, 14/08/16, Royal Sussex Regiment, 1st Battalion.

....and from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, two more
1587. Pte. 28th AIF (died 29/07/1916 F& F)
8/4024 Pte. Otago Regt. NZEF (died 5/04/1918 F&F)




Illustrated to the right is one of the  "Ernest Edward Smith" plaques

Firstly, anyone who has tried to find a plaque to a certain name, even a common name, will be aware of how difficult it is. For a number of plaques to come along in a short space of time with the same 'not so common' name is a very unusual coincidence, and may start alarm bells ringing. But when these plaques all turn up mounted in the same type of marble frame  (if it is marble, albeit in different colours) then there is almost certainly something up here.


As stated above one of the common features of these plaques is the marble mount, another is the enclosure slip pasted on the back.
Everything is aged to perfection, right down to the ring for hanging it on the wall.

The Plaque sits in a matching recess several millimetres deep with a gap of a couple of millimetres around the edge

So we appear to have a metal (cast?) plaque set in a solid marble frame. There is no access from the back (solid).


Suspecting the marble to be resin cast or similar we decide to try the hot needle test - anyone who has had anything to do with ivory or bone (ie scrimshaw, Japanese netsuke etc) knows that the fake item can be melted with a hot (red hot) needle. The marble failed this test crumbling under a hot needle - so we know the surround is not even marble. Just by chance trying the same test on the plaque...it  crumbled.... it's cast resin as well!!!

Anyway, just to confirm this our test meter is applied which shows the fake is a  non-conducting material,  i.e. infinity on the megohms scale for the fake [top picture] compared to an authentic plaque showing a low resistance.


Anyway, as the plaque appeared well and truly stuck in its surround we decided to break the "marble" frame to see how this was constructed and inspect the reverse of the plaque.... and guess what??......
............the whole thing is of one piece construction......

Broken edge showing the section: the "plaque" has been poured first in brown resin, then the mould topped up with the "marble" surround -that is the plaque and frame are a single cast object.
Conclusion; you cannot tell the difference between this fake and an authentic plaque without a few "tests". These fakes could be presented in a number of ways to deceive and I am sure we will see more over the years, perhaps to more desirable names. Even this plaque could be cut out and placed in a genuinely old frame quite easily.

The lesson therefore is the usual one: ! caveat emptor !


  Please note these images are copyright North East Medals 2007  all rights reserved

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