There are not very many fake Victorian, Edwardian and Art Nouveau tiles around, there are many reproductions but few are intended to deceive. Unsurprisingly William de Morgan tiles have been copied due to their high price but it really is difficult to make a copy that will convince. Another style of fake has come on to the market. which are quite different and to some extent more difficult to spot as new decoration has been applied to old, plain, mostly white tiles, they are almost invariably tubeline decoration in Art Nouveau style.
Most people look at the verso, see it's original and don't think much more about it even though when asked almost everyone admits that the tile "didn't look right" or words to that effect. Once aware that such tiles exist, the purpose of this page, the reasonably astute collector will easily get the feel that the tile is 'wrong' and a specialist dealer should be able to detect them easily.
First to notice from images is that the tubeline is very poorly, even haphazardly applied, no flow to the lines, none of the essence of Art Nouveau. The lines tend to stutter and start showing a lack of confidence in the decorator's hand rather like a young child's early attempts at painting. Although originally there was a vast range of colours those used on these fakes are limited and look wrong, tending either to be garish or insipid compared to originals. The colours lack the translucency of original glazes, painting marks can be seen which would have melted away in the kiln when firing originals. The more knowledgeable collector or dealer will also recognise that patterns appear on the wrong backs. As the tiles have been newly decorated the condition is usually 'perfect' or nearly so.
Below are a few examples of fakes seen around the trade, all recent decoration on old plain tiles, many have been sourced from the internet over the last twenty years.
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On a Craven Dunnill tile back from around 1915 - 1920
On a H & R Johnson tile back from around 1915 - 1920
This appears on a book cover!
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