Home Keeping: Forgery Detection

It is no surprise that hunting for antiques is a popular pastime here on the East End of Long Island, and we are in one of the most historic areas in the country. On any given weekend, there are a plethora of antique shows and markets bustling with busy consumers shopping for wares. It is very fitting that The East Hampton Historical Society is offering an exciting program for both the consumer and collector called “Fakes & Forgeries,” an informative day-long seminar on Saturday, April 21 at the Clinton Academy, 151 Main Street, East Hampton. This will be a rare opportunity to speak with expert Charles F. Hummel on fakes, forgeries and reproductions in regards to American decorative arts and antiques. With his encyclopedic mind and talent for teaching his craft, this program will educate on the intriguing and high stakes world of antique authentication. Hummel will lead an illustrated adventure investigating famous fakes and infamous forgers while informing collectors on how to become a sleuth when searching for antiques.

Hummel is one of America’s most important historians, as well as the author of With Hammer in Hand, the Dominy Craftsmen of East Hampton, New York. A retired senior director of the collection of American decorative arts at The Winterthur Museum in Delaware, Hummel has honed his connoisseur’s eye in period design, having examined thousands of examples of antiques made in America. Hummel will warn the consumer that antique merchants may use many expressive words and phrases that are meant to suggest an item may not be what it appears. In addition, he will offer up useful tools when shopping for antiques, tapping into his many years of hands-on research.

In 1953, Hummel was awarded a fellowship to study for a master’s degree in early American culture at the Winterthur Museum and the University of Delaware. The museum’s philosophy is that objects are to be used for the purposes of interpreting history and cultural values, and they place an emphasis on the authenticity of objects. In 1955, Hummel joined Winterthur, and has realized a life-long passion for revealing fakes, forgeries and reproductions. His Winterthur assignments have been varied and include the non-precious metals collection with John Hayward of the Victoria and Albert Museum; ongoing study and examination of its furniture collection; and teaching required courses in museum studies to subsequent classes of Winterthur Fellows. Since 1960, Hummel has been assigned by Winterthur to assist organizers of the Delaware Antiques Show. From 1960 to 1995, the Delaware Antiques Show was vetted before opening to the public, and for 10 years Charles F. Montgomery and Hummel were the principal vetters. From 1970 to 1995, Winterthur’s curatorial staff and Hummel were responsible for vetting the show. Since 1980, Hummel continues to have an interest in ethics and white-collar crime in museums and not-for-profit organizations. He regards his lectures and workshops as consumer education, espousing that “knowledge is power” when it comes to antiques.


This informative seminar will be held on Saturday, April 21from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Clinton Academy Museum, 151 Main Street, East Hampton. The registration fee is $60 for members of the East Hampton Historical Society and $70 for non-members. Fee includes morning and afternoon programs and catered box lunch. All proceeds will benefit the East Hampton Historical Society. Space is limited. Please call 631-324-6850 to register in advance. For more information on the East Hampton Historical Society, please visit: www.easthamptonhistory.org

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