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The Must-Have Piece of Fake Detection Equipment

By Perry M. Frohne 

The different tools needed to detect fakes and frauds in old photography are not expensive to buy and are easy to use. These specialized tools come in handy for collectors on every level. The list, while not long, includes items easily found for sale on the internet or in local hobby shops. The small upfront investment in these specialized detection tools will be justified every time you avoid purchasing a fraudulent image.

I will cover the more specialized tools in more detail in a future article.

In this column, I focus on one tool every dealer and collector needs now—an illuminated 10x magnifier. Very few items meant to deceive can pass undetected under its strong light and magnification. This is particularly true of bad CDV’s and hard images at Civil War and photography shows. The lighting in the large halls or rooms used to host these shows is never adequate for a proper review of any image. While some dealers provide lamps to help you see better, most do not. These little magnifiers are also handy at home when you are inspecting a purchase you made online.

Using a magnifier with a built-in light should expose any problems with an image and can help you detect if it is a fake. I personally use the Lighthouse (Leuchtturm) Illuminated 10x Magnifier. 


Mine is well worn because I always carry it with me at shows. Appearance does not matter. You can find them in different styles. What matters is that you can easily inspect an image with it.

This magnifier has saved me a lot of money.

Perry Frohne is the owner of Frohne’s Historic Military. He has been investigating fake images for more than 20 years. He is a MI Senior Editor.

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