Had this for a while, and just used part of it on another thread. I thought it may make a good post..........Here goes
If a faker is going to create a dagger intended to sell in the £1500.00 to £2000.00 range he (or she!) is perfectly happy to pay £500.00 for a dagger to start with.
After purchase of a subject dagger to be altered, a decision is made as to whether the new creation will be marketed as a pristine original in very fine to mint condition, or if it will be sold in good to excellent used condition. The original dagger is then stripped down and the parts are simply added to bins of similar parts from other broken down daggers
The blade to be used must be
1) used as it is,
2) fixed up slightly,
3) refinished entirely.
To add the greatest value to the end product, the faker will usually select option 3 and refinish the entire blade. Commercial metal finishers or people working inside the metal finishing business can duplicate the original Third Reich finish on a dagger blade quickly and cheaply and at the same time remove the original etching on the blade. This is not a job to be done at home, as any unevenness is easily detectable. A factory finish is perfect, and removes very little metal from the blade. Fakers almost always remove the original etching from the blades of daggers they are working on because it is so easy to replace. The process is known industrially as "photo-engraving" or "photo resist etching'" and it is used every day to make things like printed circuit boards.
A photo resists is a liquid lacquer-type substance to which photo sensitive material like ammonium bichromate has been added. It is applied to the blade of a dagger by dipping the blade in it or pouring the resist directly on the blade. The blade is then suspended or stood on end in a dark place so the excess resist can flow off and the remainder can dry. When dry, the blade looks like it has been varnished.
A film positive of the inscription to be etched on the blade is then positioned where it belongs on the blade, and is taped in place with transparent tape. The blade is placed in a plastic bag with a vacuum hose attached. When the vacuum is turned on the film negative is sucked tightly against the blade. The side of the blade with the film on it is then positioned in front of a carbon arc lamp (plain sunlight will also do the trick) for about one minute while light hardens the photo resist where it shows through clear film. Naturally, no light reaches the photo resist under the black pad of the film, so those photo resist spots remain soft and can be removed with a chemical developer. When the soft photo resist is removed it erases bare steel.
After baking the hardened photo resist to make it durable the blade is washed or sprayed with a solution like ferric chloride which removes exposed steel very quickly. To duplicate logo etching on a steel blade may require 2 or 3 minutes. To get a very deep etch as seen on the motto on some blades, or to replicate damascene work may require 5 to 10 minutes of etching depending on the temperature of the ferric chloride.
When the etch is correct the blade is removed, rinsed in clear water and then the hardened resist is removed with lacquer thinner. If it is desired, the etched spots can be chemically blackened prior to removal of the resist.
This type of etching is capable of reproducing extremely fine detail which has critically sharp edges and corners, even when examined under a powerful glass. A cheaper method which is capable of reproducing good, but not fine detail, is to silk screen a resist (like paint) on the blade leaving some areas of exposed steel. When silk screened resists and their resulting etchings are viewed under a useful glass
The least expensive method, but one often used by the fakers is to hand paint the resist on the blade leaving open areas to be etched.
There is absolutely no way to tell a good etched blade made in 1940 from a good etched blade made yesterday. Anyone who says he can is vastly over estimating his ability. The best experts in the field are fooled by new blades everyday. The processes can be identical to those originally used and the technicians of today are at least as good as those of 50 years ago. All facilities and equipment are better.
Interestingly, there are now people promoting the service of making"undetectable" repairs to edged weapons. These repairs including painting, covering with leather, the replacement of missing parts,etc., etc. Such repairs do not increase the historical value of the piece at all (if they did the Venus di Milo would have been restored years ago). All they really do is increase the value of the weapon for resale to someone who is unaware of the repairs made.
The salvation of the blade fakers are those collectors who seek a rare and unique piece - a one-of-a-kind knock-out of a blade, to exhibit for the even more gullible to look at. The best advice I can give is to BE VERY SUSPICIOUS OF ANY NON-STANDARD EDGED weapon.
Reproduction German daggers first made their appearance immediately following World War II. Enterprising Solingen manufacturers recognised the souvenir demand for their edged weapons and hastily assembled the first "parts" daggers out of war-time surplus with post-war parts. However, the major deluge of reproductions was not witnessed until the values of authentic pieces had escalated to a high enough plateau to make the manufacture of reproductions economical. Although the establishment of an exact date when the plateau was reached is an exercise in futility, the majority of collectors will place this date during the early sixties. During that time frame, the values of many authentic Third Reich edged weapons had reached the critical point making reproductions a very profitable venture.
The floodgates were opened and bogus pieces were soon to be manufactured in England, Spain, as well as in Germany.
Several of the original WorldWar II Waffenfabriken (arms factories) resorted to assembling and manufacturing spurious edged weapons as a source of additional income.
Little has been done to turn the tide against the unscrupulous occupation of marketing spurious collectibles. It is doubtful that any future international legal restraints will hamper this operation, and reproductions will continue to be dumped into the market place in ever increasing numbers. Thus, the only rational course of action is to identify reproductions in their true relationship to the original pieces rather than ignore and, subsequently, mistake them for originals. The only defence against the reproduction onslaught is to arm oneself with full knowledge of reproduction manufacture, types, etc.
So you thought you knew your fakes?