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SS Yule Lighter, good or fake ?

Article about: by Erich S Again, I have no problem with it. There are few things you look for on these and everything looks right to me. JMO! What things exactly. I, and others here one would assume, would

  1. #21

    Default Re: SS Yule Lighter, good or fake ?

    This is precisely what makes picking up one of these leuchters such a problematic issue. When you are dealing with something that is intentionally made crudely and by hand from raw clay, as were the originals, it is a very simple matter to replicate them to a degree of near perfection. I've owned several of these over the last 50 years and unless it comes direct from a veteran with unimpeachable provenance, I would not purchase one today. (and, yes-red clay does, indeed, darken noticably over time, whether it is handled or not-it's just the way clay works) They have been making reproduction pieces of these since almost the closing day of the war and these pieces now have 70 years of age on them today. It is getting to the point now where it's getting very close to impossible to tell anymore. To find one for 20 Euros at a flea market today and buy it with absolute confidence that it is real is just not realistic or practical.
    William

    "Much that once was, is lost. For none now live who remember it."

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  3. #22
    NSK
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    Default Re: SS Yule Lighter, good or fake ?

    Quote by Wagriff View Post
    This is precisely what makes picking up one of these leuchters such a problematic issue. When you are dealing with something that is intentionally made crudely and by hand from raw clay, as were the originals, it is a very simple matter to replicate them to a degree of near perfection. I've owned several of these over the last 50 years and unless it comes direct from a veteran with unimpeachable provenance, I would not purchase one today. (and, yes-red clay does, indeed, darken noticably over time, whether it is handled or not-it's just the way clay works) They have been making reproduction pieces of these since almost the closing day of the war and these pieces now have 70 years of age on them today. It is getting to the point now where it's getting very close to impossible to tell anymore. To find one for 20 Euros at a flea market today and buy it with absolute confidence that it is real is just not realistic or practical.
    William, I like Julleuchter and I'm interested in your comment, especially with respect clays changing colour. How does red clay darken over time, what is the mechanism/chemistry behind this? Or do you mean it darkens from getting dusty, dirty and not from a chemical change in the material?

    I'm not a potter or anything like that, and I note you say its really simple to make them, in your mind so well its close to impossible to tell the difference between fakes and real ones. Is the making of the slip-cast mould, like the original process really simple?

  4. #23
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    Default Re: SS Yule Lighter, good or fake ?

    This is my own flea market piece.
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture Click image for larger version. 

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  5. #24

    Default Re: SS Yule Lighter, good or fake ?

    Natural red clay will oxidize over time and turn the familiar darker brick red in color. If you see a fresh from the kiln baked piece, it will be a brighter and more orangish in color tint, but over time, it slowly becomes darker and duller and turns a markedly different tone in color-whether handled or not. It changes even faster if handled with bare hands, as the natural oils in the skin affect the clay just as they leave finger prints on metals. The trouble with these leuchters is, as I said, it's a simple matter for anyone even half experienced with hand working clay pottery to find a genuine piece and set it down in from of them and duplicate it. There is, of course, no super fine details on the "original" leuchters(and never was intended to be-they were deliberately produced to be primitive)-nothing like authenticating a medal or badge where you have very subtle and minute differences to duplicate. Even the SS runes are not a bulletproof means of being genuine. I once purchased a leuchter years ago straight from a Dutch SS man himself, and it had no runes at all on it. Some have the six dots on the one panel, some do not. I've seen leuchters with actual finger prints in them from the clay modelers. And so it goes with hand made intentionally crude clay works.
    As far as I would say, there basically is no way to authenticate a 1938 leuchter from, say, a 1948 leuchter now. One is 74 years old and handled and toned, and one is 64 years old and handled and toned. After so many years have passed, there is very little if Any differences left to see. And, keep in mind, that the Yule Leuchters were not an exclusively SS idea. They have been produced for many many years now in various shapes and incarnations. They are still being produced even today. Some replicate the SS designs and some do not. The Allach leuchters may well be the near perfect repros that every one has striven to produce. So, unless you have an unimpeachable provenance and history with each piece, it is a Very precarious collecting field to get in to today. About the best we can do today is to try to judge the age of the piece to an approximate correct era by examining the coloration, the signs of usage, and come as close as we can to what is pretty much a near impossible exact decision on each piece.

    A question, though-do you own the NS-Kunst website? I notice that your leuchter is pictured there. You'll notice the coloration of both your piece and the one pictured in front of the red blanket. They both exhibit the darkening oxidation mentioned-something the 20 Euro flea market piece originally posted does not.
    Last edited by Wagriff; 05-27-2012 at 02:39 AM.
    William

    "Much that once was, is lost. For none now live who remember it."

  6. #25
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    Default Re: SS Yule Lighter, good or fake ?

    Hi William,

    Thanks for your words about the oxidation, perhaps the modulator of this would be the iron content of the clay.

    Yes that's my web page. The six dot is near mint condition, just a few marks from wax and slight edge darkening in places from handling.

    Whilst I can see your point about the need to be cautious, especially with the later forms of leuchter I find it difficult to understand how easy you think it is to reproduce a Julleuchter so well. You say an experienced potter could sit one in front of him/herself and just copy it? You mean without even making a slip-cast? Originals are not just formed by hand, they are poured liquid clay. There are features in the moulds that no handwork is going to copy exactly.

    If such a potter thinks it's easy to make such a thing purely by hand and then makes one just by sitting a 6-dot leuchter in front and copying it I'm sure collectors would be able to tell the difference. My preference for Julleuchter is the '35 and six dot versions and I don't think the potter would have a chance at passing off an early 6-dot as real just by hand copying! The kulturzeichen would be the easiest feature to reproduce as that's just a press mark, not part of the mould.

    I think to have a chance at fooling experienced collectors the process would have to be more sophisticated than looking at a leuchter and hand forming a copy. Surely a mould would have to be made and sized properly to allow for shrinkage, you couldn't just take a mould from a julleuchter.

  7. #26

    Default Re: SS Yule Lighter, good or fake ?

    Whether making a mold from an original or hand forming a piece using an original as a model, working with clay and pottery is not a deeply sophisticated process. Simply ask a potter who is familiar with clay working and they will tell you that these designs are far from elaborate or difficult to produce. If they were, you would not see the flood of reproductions that you see today. There are actual factories in countries like China and India making these things by the crate fulls-and all from the same methods and styles as were the originals. Basically, if you can work clay, you should certainly be able to make a decent replica of these leuchters. The photos on your website show leuchters being hand cut and finished by several serious looking young women. Certainly, each one produced must have exhibited small differences. If you took 3 pieces made by the same person on the same day, you would still see many small differences between the 3.
    I don't intend to go into a long drawn out explanation of working with clay, as that information can be found anywhere on the net you care to look. The original leuchter first posted is nothing at all in appearance when compared with your fine example. Set the 2 photos side by side and compare-it is glaringly obvious which is genuine and which is not. Unglazed clay will not stay the same fresh orange color over 80 years of time passing-even if it was stored in a bank vault. There are Thousands of these replicas out there on the market at any given time or day. The original poster paid 20 Euros, so he is not out any considerable money, but there are plenty of people being frauded from theirs by these now aging replicas. How many collectors today have one of these things proudly set in their collections? One can only sadly guess.
    William

    "Much that once was, is lost. For none now live who remember it."

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