South Yorkshire collector and auctioneer Alan Blakeman recently bought what he considered the best green glass cottage ink he had ever seen just prior to the January Coddswallop Bottle Show at the Elsecar Heritage Centre, near Barnsley.
Purportedly a great rarity, the asking price was £1000.
With a limited budget, he passed on a similar light blue inkwell from the same dealer (priced at £1550), although it was bought at the show by a collector. Bottle enthusiasts had also been excited to see a similar inkwell in a vivid cobalt blue that had been very much the talk of the show with its price tag of £10,000.
Mr Blakeman was offered another shortly afterwards priced at £4000 - an unprecedented run of 'discoveries' that seemed too good to be true.
After several weeks of detective work the conclusion is that these inks - in colours that do not compare truly with recorded examples - are fakes, most likely made in Norfolk.
As with most fakes, the small differences between the right and wrong become obvious when they are placed side by side with a genuine antique.
Suspect features of the fakes include:
• rounded corners and weak embossing
• exceptional condition save minor chips around the neck and 'glass paper' scratches done for effect
•the name C (rather than W) Chandler
• the absence of a raised seam down the sides and to the necks that usually characterises bottles that have been blown in a metal mould.
The latest copy of BBR magazine (issue 115) includes more detailed images.
By Roland Arkell